Malegaon blast: NIA takes U-turn, opposes acquittal of 9 accused Muslims
Mumbai: Two years after failing to produce any evidence against nine Muslim men accused in the September 2006 Malegaon blasts, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Tuesday opposed their discharge application before a sessions court, contradicting its own stand on their involvement in the case.
The agency's sudden change of stand came as surprise to everyone in Sessions Judge V V Patil's court.
The NIA counsel Prakash Shetty demanded that the evidence against both sets of accused be evaluated independently.
In possibly a trial of its own kind- this case has two sets of accused- nine Muslims arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad just months after the September 8, 2006 blasts; and four Hindus arrested by the NIA after they took over the case in 2011.
"It wasn't the right stage to evaluate the evidence against the two sets of accused independently and "therefore it is my humble submission that they [the Muslims accused in the case] should not be discharged," Shetty told the court.
The nine men — Noorul Huda, Shabbir Ahmed, Raees Ahmed, Salman Farsi, Farogh Magdumi, Shaikh Mohammed Ali, Asif Khan, Mohammed Zahid and Abrar Ahmed — were arrested in 2006 for the Malegaon blasts that killed 37 and injured over 100. In November 2011, they were granted bail.
The court is likely to pass its order on the discharge application on April 25.
Two of the men were convicted later in the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts case of 2006 — they remain in judicial custody. Shabbir died in an accident in March 2015. One was exempted from appearance in court Tuesday while the remaining five were present.
Thirty-one people were killed and over 300 injured in a series of blasts in a cemetery adjacent to a mosque on shab-e-baraat on 8 September 2006 in Malegaon, a town in the Maharshtra's Nashik district.