The Central Bureau of Investigation got the nod to re-investigate the 2006 Malegaon case on Thursday. The decision by the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court throws open a lot of questions regarding the earlier investigation and the CBI now has its task cut out since it will not only have to deal with the new set of accused but also with the nine other accused from the Muslim community, who have been languishing in jail ever since the attack took place.
When the Malegaeon attack took place, several accused were picked up and the ATS said that this was a Students Islamic Movement of India styled attack, to create a communal divide. However it was the same ATS under the leadership of Hemant Karkare which brought to light another angle to the case.
The first person to be picked up in this new angle to the investigation was Sadhvi Pragya Singh.
Investigating agencies consider this case to be of supreme importance since it was the first time that a terror probe in India focussed on the 'Hindu angle'.
Analysing the manner in which the probe has gone it looks as though there are three different angles to this case, since 2006.
Between 2006 and 2008, the ATS maintained that there was a SIMI angle to the case. They made nine arrests and even filed chargesheets against these persons. However in 2008 things began to change and the very same ATS began to say the Malegaon blasts were the handiwork of fringe Hindu groups.
'The Malegaon blasts were at Sadhvi Pragya's behest'
The CBI now has three things on hand. First and foremost they will need to give a clean chit to the first set of accused who continue to languish in jail. Sources say that it would tell very badly on the ATS if they had to do this and hence it required another agency to take up this task.
After Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur's involvement in this case came to light, the arrests of two other important players such as Colonel Shrikant Purohit and Dayanand Pandey took place. Although the Sadhvi has been in complete denial of her involvement, both Purohit and Pandey's statements have nailed Thakur.
Purohit and Pandey's statements clearly state that the Malegaon operation was carried out only because of Thakur.
Pandey in particular was very vocal during his interrogation regarding Thakur's involvement. Pandey continued to say that Thakur was in a relationship with Sunil Joshi and she believed that some members of SIMI killed him and hence the Malegaon blasts were carried out to avenge Joshi's death.
Pandey further adds that the Malegaon blasts were masterminded by Sadhvi and the entire operation was carried out at her behest.
Aseemanand's confession has turned the case on its head
No where in the first half of the investigation does Aseemanand's name crop up. There were just references in general being made about a godman who was the mastermind of this attack. Now with Aseemanand's arrest, the theories put forth by Pandey and Purohit are almost negated.
Aseemanand's confession has thrown open a whole new angle to the case. Pandey's role is almost minimal and Purohit had no direct reference to the Malegaon case, said Aseemanand.
Aseemanand claims that the main players in the Malegaon case are Sunil Joshi, Ramji Kalsanghra, Dange and Thakur. In fact the latest revealations run contrary to what has been said in the earlier part of the investigations.
According to Aseemanand, the Malegaon attack was carried out by Dange and Kalsanghra and was masterminded by Joshi. He says that he was once asked to be picked up Kalsanghra and Dange and they had told him that they were coming back from Maharashtra and it was days later he realised that a bomb had gone off in Malegaon.
'SIMI members helped build the bomb'
Sources said that it is almost like starting the case afresh. Nothing that has been said in the past matches with the current statements and they will have to interrogate every one involved yet again and file a fresh chargesheet.
Only once that is done can a clean chit be granted to all the rest of the accused involved in the case.
Another interesting angle that would be subject to investigation in this case is the fact that Purohit goes on to say that since there were no experts in the bomb making, he had used the services of some SIMI members to undertake this job.
Ganesh Sovani, counsel for Thakur, however, is not impressed with this new development, "I am still looking into this. I would however like to bring to your notice that the Supreme Court had confirmed the imposition of MCOCA in this case and the court would not have not done that unless there was some kind of evidence. I don't think this is a wise move, but I will comment more on this later since I am still looking into it."