For ten years, 64-year-old Mohammed Amin had forced himself to be busy to ease his worries, brought about by the disappearance of his son. Last week, wounds were reopened after a court verdict on the Malegaon blast case.
“They say the biggest pain of parents is to lose their child. For us, this pain is double because we do not even know whether our son is dead or alive. I may seem normal to you but this is false normality,” says Mohammed Amin, a former muezzin standing outside his ramshackle tinsheet house in Pharamacy Nagar on the outskirts of Malegaon.
Malegaon may have cheered after the recent ruling by a special MCOCA court which discharged eight men — all Muslims arrested in connection with the 2006 Malegaon blast. But three families, including Amin’s are waiting in anticipation that the verdict would ensure that their family members who disappeared return home.
The Maharashtra ATS and then the CBI had chargesheeted 13 men for their role in the 2006 Malegaon blast. A total of nine were arrested while four others including a Pakistani were declared as absconders who have disappeared and never been sighted since 2006.
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Amin’s son, Munawwar Ahmed — 36 years old then — was accused of being one of the main conspirators who had directed that bomb blasts be carried out at Bada Kabrastan and Hamidiya Masjid complex. A former member of SIMI, Munawwar had run-ins with the law but his family says he was never a terrorist.
He, along with Riyaz Ahmed Shafi Ahmed and Ishtiyaq Ahmed Mohammed Isaaq, disappeared from Malegaon in October 2006, never to be seen again.
The Uttar Pradesh police in 2007 had claimed that they were on the lookout of the trio as they were probable suspects in the blasts that had taken place in court complexes in UP.
An affidavit filed by Muslim activists from Malegaon in court had stated that Munawwar was last seen inside a police vehicle.
“The entire Malegaon case was a fabrication. How could my son have been part of this fictional conspiracy? I do not know where he is, whether he is hidden by police or has run away out of fear. I just want to know his fate before I die,” Amin says.
The family of Riyaz Ahmed Shafi Ahmed, accused of placing an IED at the blast site, is also seeking his whereabouts.
“We are happy that people have been freed in the case. However, in all these years nothing was written about those who disappeared. My brother was religious but not violent. He would not hurt a fly, yet he was branded a terrorist,” Nizam Khan, his younger brother, said.
A worker of SIMI, the police had earlier interrogated him for his role in the Auranagabad Arms Haul but had let him go.
“They would detain him and send him back even before the blast took place. There used to be heavy surveillance on him and on our house. I fail to understand that inspite of this monitoring how he could have been a part of the conspiracy or even disappeared, as the police claim,” Khan says.
Khan claims his brother’s disappearance has destroyed their family. “My father passed away in grief. We have not been able to come to terms with his disappearance. I just wish that if he is free he reads about this judgement and comes back home,” Khan said.
Activists claim that the disappearance of the three is a mystery and needs to be properly investigated.
“This entire case is fake and these three men were mere pawns. There needs to be a thorough investigation into
their disappearance. For people who were under so much surveillance, it is suspicious how they could have managed to vanish without the knowhow of agencies,” Irfana Hamdani, a lawyer who had earlier represented the Malegaon blast accused, said.