Yesterday, two years after it told a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court in Mumbai that it did not have any evidence to link nine Muslim men to the September 2006 Malegaon bombings, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) went back on its stand and opposed discharging the men.
The blasts took place in Malegaon, around 300 km north of Mumbai, in September 2006, killing 37 people and injuring more than 100. There are two different sets of people accused in the case–the nine Muslim men arrested by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad soon after the attacks, and four Hindus arrested by the NIA after it took over the investigation in 2011. Prakash Shetty, the NIA counsel, told the court on Tuesday, “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] should not be discharged.”
In April 2014, the NIA had said there was no evidence supporting the ATS’ report recommending that the nine men be prosecuted. Before that, in 2011, then prosecutor for the NIA, Rohini Salian, acknowledged that based on new information, right-wing extremists were also involved in the 2006 blasts.