The NIA probe into the 2006 Malegaon bombings seems to have punctured the Maharashtra ATS investigation that had led to the arrest of nine Muslim youths in the case. In the coming days,the NIA is set to file a chargesheet based on evidence that point to the role of right-wing fundamentalists in the blasts that killed 37 people.
The chargesheet will name Swami Aseemanand,an accused in 2007 Samjhauta train bombings,Lokesh Sharma,Rajender Chaudhary and Dhan Singh. All four have been arrested and are in judicial custody.
The other names are slain RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi,Sandeep Dange,Ramji Kalsangra,Amit Chauhan. The latter three are absconding.
Officials said the chargesheet will be filed before a special NIA court in Mumbai in the next few days. It is also likely to mention the common links in Samjhauta,Mecca Masjid and Ajmer bombings.
Earlier the Maharashtra ATS had claimed to have cracked the case based on soil sample of a fake bomb found in the godown of Shabir Ahmed. It led to arrest of nine Muslim youths who,the ATS claimed,had carried out blasts during Friday prayers in Malegaon on September 8,2006.
The ATS had also planted a witness to support their claim but he later turned hostile,leaving the police red faced. Once the NIA files the chargesheet,the nine Muslim youths are likely to be acquitted and can even claim damages. Seven of them were given bail by a MCOCA court in November 2011 as NIA did not oppose their plea.
The NIA probe is learnt to have found that Rajender Chaudhary along with Dhan Singh planted the explosives on a bicycle. Both of them were nabbed in December 2012. The bombs reportedly were assembled by Ramji and Dange and the logistics was arranged by Sunil Joshi,who died under mysterious circumstances in December 2007. The agency,which is also probing Joshis murder,has claimed that Sharma and Chaudhary had killed Joshi after they fell out with him.
The NIA said Aseemanand harboured the people who planted the bombs and also arranged the money. He was held by the CBI in November 2010 in connection with Mecca Masjid bombings and was the first to confess the role of Hindu fundamentalists in Malegaon blasts.
Though Aseemanand gave his statement before a magistrate under section 164 of CrPC,he has since then retracted. After his disclosure,the government ordered reprobe and transferred all the right-wing terror cases to the NIA.
The NIA is also yet to find the source of explosives in Malegaon blasts and doubts that it was provided by a someone who used to collect scrap from military camps near Indore and Nasik. Sources said the role of Lt Col Srikant Prasad Purohit has not been established in the 2006 blasts. The agency may file a supplementary chargesheet after obtaining custody of Purohit,who has moved the apex court opposing the NIA move to question him.