The National Investigation Agency on Tuesday told a Mumbai court it opposed discharging nine Muslims accused in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case. The move came two years after the NIA said it had no evidence linking these men to the attacks, The Indian Express reported.
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 who were arrested by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad soon after the attacks, and four Hindus arrested by the NIA after they took over the investigation in 2011. NIA counsel Prakash Shetty 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, had said the agency would review evidence in the Malegaon blasts after fresh revelations were made by an accused in another case. Salian then acknowledged that based on new information, right-wing extremists were also involved in the 2006 blasts, The Indian Express said.