Mumbai: The court on Monday dropped charges against eight Muslim men who were accused of carrying out bomb blasts that killed 37 people and left more than 100 injured in Malegaon, Maharashtra, on September 8, 2006.
The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court’s order comes two years after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the court that it did not have any evidence to link them to the blasts case. The men had spent five years in jail before being granted bail in 2011 after the NIA took over the case. They have alleged that they were tortured into making confessions by the police.
Nine Malegaon residents — Noorul Huda Samsudoha, Shabbir Ahmed Masiullah, Raees Ahmed Rajab Ali Mansuri, Salman Farsi Abdul Latif Aimi, Farogh Iqbal Ahmed Magdumi, Mohammad Ali Alam Sheikh, Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid, Mohammad Zahid Abdul Majid Ansari and Abrar Ahmed Gulam Ahmed — were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad in 2006 for their role in the blasts. Shabbir Ahmed, one of the 9 accused in the case, died in an accident few months ago.
The Malegaon blasts were first investigated by Maharashtra’s anti-terror squad or ATS, which had arrested nine Muslim men alleging that they belonged to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and had carried out the explosions with the help of the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar e Taiba. One of them died later.
The case was later handed over to the CBI, which confirmed the ATS findings. But when the National Investigation Agency or NIA took over the case in 2011, it booked another set of people associated with a right-wing group called Abhinav Bharat.
The NIA also said it did not oppose bail for the Muslim men accused in the case as no evidence had been found to link them to the blasts.
Members of Abhinav Bharat have also been accused in the 2008 blasts in Malegaon in which seven people died.
During arguments recently, however, the NIA had opposed the discharge petitions of the men discharged today.