Mumbai: The special NIA court, which discharged eight accused in the Malegaon 2006 blast, observed that it was impossible that the accused who are Muslims themselves, would have decided to kill their own people to create disharmony in two communities, that too on a holy day of Shab-E-Barat.
The court also held that the ATS officers discharged their public duty in a "wrong way" and merely on suspicion projected them as accused in the case.
Ten years after a series of bombs exploded in Malegaon killing 37 people, the court had yesterday dropped charges against eight Muslim youths due to lack of evidence against them.
"In my view the basic foundation or the object shown by ATS behind the blast dated 8 September, 2006 is not acceptable to a man of ordinary prudence. I say so because there was Ganesh immersion just prior to it...Had the accused had any object that there should be riots at Malegaon, then they ought to have planted bombs at the time of Ganesh immersion day, which would have caused death of most of the Hindu people," observed special NIA judge V V Patil.
The court also said that after scanning of the investigation papers of ATS, it emerged that there is not sufficient ground for proceedings against the accused persons.
"I am also of the view that there is no prima facie evidence of commission of alleged offence by the accused persons, so as to frame charge against them for any of the charges levelled against them," the court observed.
"It appears to me that as the accused were having criminal antecedents, they become the scapegoat at the hands of ATS. However, it should be mentioned here that the ATS officers who conducted the investigation were having no animosity with these accused persons to book them in the crime, therefore, in my view as they discharged their public duty, but in a wrong way, so they may not be blamed for it", the court observed.
The serial bomb blasts outside a cemetry near Hamidia Mosque at Malegaon near Nashik had also left over 100 persons injured. Bombs were planted on bicycles parked near the cemetery and they went off after Friday prayers at the Mosque on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat.
Nine accused, suspected to have links with Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), were initially arrested in the case and charge-sheeted by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS). One of them died while the case was pending. Four others, including a Pakistan national, are absconding.
Later, CBI, which took over investigations, also confirmed the charges against them.
Subsequently, in 2011, NIA was asked to probe the case and the agency arrested another set of people belonging to the majority community, who continue to be accused in the case.
However, the case took a turn when Swami Assemanand, an accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjis bombing case, allegedly told the probe agency about the role of a Hindu right wing outfit in the 2006 Malagaon blasts case.
The NIA has arrested another set of accused in this case. They are Manohar Nariwala alias Sumer Thakur, Rajendra Chowdhary alias Dashrath, Dhan Singh and Lokesh Sharma. The agency has filed chargesheet against them and all of them are currently in jail pending trial.