The National Investigation Agency has pointed out loopholes in investigations by the Maharashtra ATS and the CBI into the 2006 Malegaon blasts and said that nine Muslim youths the latter had arrested went on to tell the NIA that their confessions had been taken under duress. The NIA filed its chargesheet recently against members of a Hindu terror network. The ATS had earlier chargesheeted another set of suspects,men with alleged SIMI links,nine of whom it arrested. The ATS chargesheet was later validated by the CBI with no additional evidence.
The NIA’s chargesheet says the evidence the agency has collected in over two years is not in consonance with that of the ATS or the CBI.
The earlier investigations had relied on soil samples recovered from the godown of Shabbir Masiullah alias Batterywala. The NIA states that two star witnesses,both Malegoan residents on whose statements the case was built,have told the agency that they had never been to the spot and had not testified to any recovery from Masiullah’s godown. The soil samples collected from Masiullah’s godown had supposedly shown RDX traces.
The ATS chargesheet claims that Masiullah was a key conspirator and had procured the explosive material from Mumbai with the help of two others,Mohammad Ali and Asif Bashir Khan. It alleges Masiullah also provided shelter to two Pakistanis.
In 2011,the nine arrested Muslim youths were granted bail after Swami Aseemanand stated in a confession before a magistrate that the Malegaon blasts were executed by a Hindu group. Two of the nine,however,remained in jail for charges related to the 7/11 train blasts.
According to the confession by Aseemanand,he claims to have suggested that Malegaon,which has an 86 per cent Muslim population be chosen for an attack,but the NIA has not named him among its accused. NIA sources,however,say a supplementary chargesheet will be filed in due course.
According to the chargesheet,accused Lokesh Sharma,deceased Sunil Joshi,Shan Singh,Rajendra Chaudhary,Manohar Narwaria,and absconding accused Ramchandra Kalsangra and Nanded resident Ramesh Venkat Mahalkar alias Amit Hakla entered into the criminal conspiracy.
Kalsangra allegedly zeroed in on Malegaon as the place to execute the attacks,and the first conspiracy meeting was allegedly on August 2006 in a room rented by Mahalkar Sarvasampann Nagar in Indore,where the RDX was later assembled. The chargesheet says that the accused were trained and given bomb demonstrations at a camp in Bagli village,Indore. These places of training have been identified by the accused during the course of investigations.
The accused persons visited Malegaon thrice before September 8,2006 (date of the blast) and did reconnaissance of the area where bombs were placed and blasted, says the charegsheet,a copy of which has been accessed by The Indian Express.