Malegaon: NIA unlikely to oppose bail for accused

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 17:40

Mumbai: The National Investigating Agency
(NIA) is unlikely to oppose the bail pleas of the nine accused
arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in the 2006 Malegaon bomb
blast case when they come up for hearing this week.

Sources privy to the investigations into the case said
on Tuesday the NIA may not oppose the bail pleas of the nine
accused hinting they may not have played any role.

The bail petitions are expected to come up for hearing
on September 17. All the nine are languishing in Arthur Road
prison since their arrest in 2006.

The NIA probe so far gave indications that the
Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police and the CBI
allegedly acted in undue haste in filing chargesheet against
the accused, the sources said.

While NIA is looking into a possible Hindu terror link
following a confession by Swami Aseemanand before a magistrate
during the CBI custody, it was not immediately clear whether
the agency would investigate the role of police officers who
are alleged to have framed the nine Muslim youth arrested
for allegedly orchestrating the blast.

Sources said even the CBI, which took over probe from
the ATS, can also be questioned.

NIA was handed over the probe after the case took a
twist following the confession of arrested Swami Aseemanand, a
member of right wing group Abhinav Bharat, before a magistrate
in which he claimed that the 2006 blast in the powerloom town
of Malegaon was carried out by Hindu extremists.

ATS, which was initially investigating the blast that
killed 36 persons, had arrested nine Muslim youth for carrying
out the blasts. According to the agency, the main accused
Mohammed Zahid was allegedly present in Malegaon when the
blast took place.

According to ATS, Zahid was involved in the activities
of the banned SIMI group.

However, several apparent loopholes in the investigation
led to CBI taking over the case. Contrary to the claims of
ATS, the central agency got eyewitnesses to testify that Zahid
was leading the Friday prayers in a village, 700 kms from
Malegaon, on the day of the explosions.

CBI during its probe had also hinted that ATS officers
in its rush to solve the case named two of the accused without
realizing that one of them was languishing in jail while
another was 700 kms away from Malegaon.

CBI officials had claimed that the then ATS officials
chose to ignore the eyewitness accounts and stuck to the
theory which was apparently worked out by some senior officers
who apparently wanted to close the case quickly.

The entire ATS investigation went into a tail-spin after
the confession of Swami Aseemanand before a magistrate in
which he claimed that the Malegaon 2006 attack was carried out
by Hindu extremist groups.

Aseemanand, who was arrested by CBI, has stated in his
confessional statement that the 2006 blast was masterminded by
Hindu group Abhinav Bharat and that a Muslim youth arrested in
the case had brought about a change in his heart which led him
to spill the beans.

Following Aseemanand’s confession, a second probe by the
CBI had also carried out preliminary questioning of the
arrested accused in the Malegaon 2008 blast case. The accused,
all members of Abhinav Bharat include Sadhvi Pragya Singh
Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Dayanand Pandey and Rakesh
Dhawde.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 17:40

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