Mumbai, Nov. 5: Malegaon residents celebrated an early Id today after a special court trying nine men accused of plotting the deadly 2006 blasts granted them bail in a case where a swamis alleged confession turned the glare on Sangh parivar fringe groups.
The relief came after the National Investigation Agency told the court it had decided not to oppose the bail application(s) of the nine minority community men who have been under arrest for the past five years.
Some residents of Malegaon, a communally sensitive Maharashtra town where seven of the nine come from, said Id, which falls on Monday, had arrived early.
The whole city will be celebrating. We have always believed that these nine men were falsely indicted, said Jamil, the elder brother of Shabbir Ahmed Masiullah, one of the accused.
Four bombs had ripped through the town on September 8, 2006, killing 37 people. Within a few months, the states anti-terrorism squad had arrested the nine — Noorul Huda, Shabbir Ahmed, Raees Ahmed, Salman Farsi, Farogh Maqdoomi, Sheikh Mohammed Ali, Asif Khan, Mohd Zahid and Abrar Ahmed.
The case was later transferred to the CBI, which filed a supplementary chargesheet with the same list of accused.
But a confession by Swami Aseemanand, arrested in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, alleged that Sangh fringe group activists were involved in the Malegaon blasts. It prompted the nine to file fresh bail applications before the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court.
Today, the NIA, which started probing the case in March this year, said after the Bengal-born Aseemanands revelation, the agency had collected fresh evidence and the investigation had brought out several new facts and circumstances.
After due deliberations, a decision was taken on the basis of the facts and circumstances not to oppose the bail application of all the nine accused persons who were earlier arrested and chargesheeted, the agency said. Judge Y.D. Shinde then granted bail to the nine.
While this does not mean that the nine will be immediately discharged in the case, seven of them will walk free after five years of confinement next week when their bail formalities are completed. Two of them — Sheikh Ali and Asif Khan — would, however, continue to remain in prison as they are also accused in the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts case.
Outside the special courtroom, a tearful Jamil, 47, made a quiet phone call to his 72-year-old father. My brother Shabbir and brother-in-law Raees Ahmed have been in prison since 2006. This was a small ray of hope we have been long waiting for, he told The Telegraph.
It proves that investigating agencies have without any evidence targeted and imprisoned these men for the blasts, said Faroghs brother Sibah Maqdoomi