‘NIA not to oppose bail plea of Malegaon accused’

P Chidambaram announced that NIA will not oppose the bail pleas of the nine accused arrested by the police in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast case.

New Delhi: In a decision that could come as
an embarrassment to Maharashtra`s Anti Terror Squad, Union
Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday announced that NIA will not
oppose the bail pleas of the nine accused arrested by the
police in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast case.

"As far as the NIA is concerned, which is in-charge of
investigating the case, they are not opposing the bail.
Whether the bail will be granted or not, it is not for me to
say. It is for the court to say," Chidambaram told reporters
after presenting his ministry`s monthly report card.

All the nine are languishing in Arthur Road prison since
their arrest in 2006.

Asked whether the move not to oppose the bail meant that
the nine people arrested by the ATS were innocent, Chidambaram
said "no, until any other person who is involved is actually
found and chargesheeted, and until the old chargesheet is
revised, we can`t come to any conclusion one way or the

"But since there is a confession and investigation is in
progress in some areas, in some other directions, the NIA has
concluded that it is no longer necessary to keep them in
judicial custody and, therefore, the NIA will not oppose the
bail. But the decision is not of NIA, the decision will be
court`s decision," the Home Minister said.

The probe by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has
indicated that the ATS of Maharashtra police and the CBI
allegedly acted in undue haste in filing chargesheet against
the accused, official 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 allegedy orchestrating the blast.

NIA was asked to probe the case after it took a new
twist following confession of Assemanand, 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.

However, accoridng to the NIA, the main accused Mohammed
Zahid was allegedly present in Malegaon when the blast took
place contrary to claims of ATS which alleged that Zahid was
involved in the activities of the banned SIMI group.

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.

The sources 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 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.


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