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Malegaon blast case: NIA likely to quiz Maha ATS officials

January 29, 2012 16:16 IST

The National Investigation Agency, which has been struggling to collect evidence in the 2006 Malegaon blast case, is likely to quiz some of the Maharashtra ATS officials who had probed the case.

In the light of a confession by Swami Aseemanand before a magistrate, the nine youths arrested by the Anti-Terror Squad in 2006 were released on bail recently by the court as the NIA did not oppose the same due to lack of evidence against them.

The NIA now plans to examine the role of officials of Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad, which had chargesheeted the nine youths in the case, and re-visit their investigations into the case, official sources said.

As many as 35 people were killed in the blast that rocked the powerloom city of Malegaon in 2006.

The NIA has been focusing on growth of saffron terror in the country. It has formed special teams to probe various cases including Malegaon, Samjhauta train blast, Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and Ajmer blasts.

The sources said that the NIA team camped in Malegaon and examined all the forensic evidence that had been collected by the ATS, which was led by the then Joint Commissioner K P Raghuvanshi and his Deputy Inspector General Subodh Jaiswal.

The arming mechanism of the three explosions was not identified by the ATS, but it was quick enough in making the arrests and later filing charge sheet against the nine youths -- Shabbir Ahmed Masiullah, Noorul Huda Samsudoha, Raees Ahmed Mansuri, Salman Farsi Aimi, Farogh Iqbal Magdumi, Mohammed Ali Shaikh, Asif Khan, Mohammed Abdul Ansari and Abrar Gulam Ahmed.

Right-wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat member Swami Assemanand, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation, has stated in his confessional statement before a magistrate that the Malegaon blast was masterminded by a Hindu group. He had also said that a boy arrested in the case had brought about a change in his heart which resulted in him spilling the beans.

Abrar had alleged in his petition that he was made to speak on the phone to someone by the then Superintendent of Police (Rural) Rajvardhan, a 1997 batch IPS officer.

NIA is now planning to examine Rajvardhan as well in connection with the case, besides some other religious organisation in Malegaon.

Assemanand, alias Jatin Chatterjee, had stated in his statement that slain RSS worker Sunil Joshi and others were responsible for the Malegaon 2006 blasts. However, he recently attempted to back-track from his confessional statement.

Four bombs planted in Malegaon, the communally-sensitive powerloom township had exploded on September 8. The fateful day happened to be 'Shab-e-Baraat', considered auspicious among Muslims, when they assemble to pay respects to their departed kin.

Malegaon had seen another terror attack in 2008 allegedly by right-wing Hindu groups. Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and former Lt Col Srikanth Purohit were arrested in connection with the incident.

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