The move to question the right-wing groups in the 2006 attacks, which left 35 people dead, comes in the light of confession made by Swami Aseemanand, a member of the Hindu right wing group Abhinav Bharat, before a magistrate, official sources said. The CBI is likely to question Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Pravin Mutalik who have been arrested in connection with 2008 Malegaon blasts case, the sources said.
In a related development, a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court will hear the bail application of nine accused arrested earlier by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in the 2006 case on Monday and the CBI counsel is unlikely to oppose their plea.
Aseemanand, who was recently arrested by the CBI, has stated in his confessional statement that the Malegaon blast was masterminded by a Hindu group and that a boy arrested in the case had brought about a change in his heart which led him to spill the beans.
Assemanand, alias Jatin Chatterjee, had alleged in his statement that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activists had murdered worker Sunil Joshi, who along with others was responsible for Malegaon 2006 blasts.
Besides Thakur, Purohit and Mutalik, the CBI will question Rakesh Dhawde, Ajay Rahirkar, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, retired army official Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Jagdish Mhatre, Dayanand Pandey and Sudhakar Chaturvedi also in the case, the sources said.
All of them were arrested by Maharashtra ATS for allegedly carrying out blasts at Malegaon on September 29, 2008 that left six dead and several others injured.
These arrests had given a new direction to the probes into the terror acts in the country with the role of Hindu extremist groups being exposed by ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who fell to bullets of Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists on November 26, 2008 during the Mumbai attacks.
All the accused have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, MCOCA, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Arms Act and Explosive Substances Act.
The sources said that a team led by Joint Director Kandaswamy is camping in the power loom city and will examine all 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 CBI was re-examining all the forensic and explosive material seized from the area in connection with the four bomb explosions in the communally-sensitive Malegaon on September 8, 2006.
Besides examining the material evidence, the CBI was also likely to question some of the officials attached with the investigations which include the then Additional Superintendent of Police (Rural) Nashik Rajvardhan, a 1997 IPS officer, who has been accused of being behind the alleged wrongful arrests earlier in the case.
The CBI plans to examine the role of officials of the Maharashtra ATS, which had filed a charge sheet against nine people in the case, and re-visit their investigations into the case, official sources said.
Those arrested were 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.
The day happened to be Shab-e-Baraat, considered auspicious among Muslims, when they assemble to pay respects to their dead kin. The police claimed that 20 kgs of RDX were smuggled to Malegaon and around five kgs were used to make the bombs that killed over 35 people.
Both the CBI and the ATS had failed in identifying the two persons who had planted the explosives on the fateful day and also did not succeed in detecting the arming mechanism of the bombs.
The agency will also seek the help of Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad which had had considerable headway in exposing the terror network of right-wing groups.