NEW DELHI: The nine Muslim men arrested and charged in connection with the 2006 Malegaon blast case may soon find an official stamp of their “innocence”. The NationalInvestigation Agency (NIA), which has chargesheeted Hindutva radicals in connection with the case, is likely to tell a Mumbai court that the arrested men do not stand accused in the Malegaon blast case.
The NIA’s statement will be in reply to a discharge application filed by two of the nine accused in Mumbai’s Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act ( MCOCA) court on the basis of NIA’s chargesheet. The two accused, Mohamed Ali Shaikh and Asif Bashir Shaikh, on Wednesday filed an application seeking discharge from the case stating the NIA chargesheet had proved the involvement of a right-wing terror group.
“As and when the court asks us for a reply, we will state that they are not accused in our case. The court has two more chargesheets (one filed by Maharashtra ATS and another by CBI) to look at. It will be the court’s prerogative to discharge them,” a senior NIA officer said.
The statement will be a big relief to the nine men and of great significance to the case as investigations are still on. It will, in a way, be the first official clean chit to the nine men, seven of whom are out on bail. The other two, Mohammed and Asif, who have moved court, are still in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail in connection with the 7/11 train blasts.
Mohammed and Asif said in their application that the NIA chargesheet had contradicted those filed by the ATS and CBI. “The supplementary chargesheet of the NIA prima facie reveals that statements of all witnesses recorded by the ATS was taken under duress,” the accused said in the plea.
According to NIA’s chargesheet, Lokesh Sharma, deceased Sunil Joshi, Dhan Singh, Rajendra Chaudhary, Manohar Narwaria and absconding accused Ramchandra Kalsangra and Nanded resident Ramesh Venkat Mahalkar alias Amit Hakla are responsible for the blast.
Meanwhile, sources said Dhan Singh, one of the accused chargesheeted by NIA, has contested the discharge application filed by Mohammed and Asif and has also questioned investigations done by the agency.
After the blasts, Maharashtra ATS had chargesheeted nine Muslim men in the case. On the day it filed the chargesheet, the case was transferred to CBI which later filed a supplementary chargesheet supporting ATS’s case.
However, following Aseemanand’s confession of Hindutva radical hand in the blasts, the case was transferred to NIA.