Why is the Malegaon bomb blasts case of 2006 still hanging fire?

Of all the cases of terrorism, the one which required most attention but got the least is the September 8, 2006 bomb blasts of Malegaon. The case is linked with the second blast of Malegaon on September 29, 2008 and even the with arms hauls of May 2006. However, the official line is that the two are not related. This had influenced investigation and led it into a blind alley. Unless the highest authorities were involved, this could not have happened.

A significant lead is deliberately missed. What does Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur mean when she exclaims why so few died in 2008 blast at Bhiku Chowk? She had allegedly reconnoitered the site and was seized of the fact that the chowk as well as its environ of Anjuman Chowk was overwhelmingly crowded. Yet only six died and only about hundred were injured! In the first place, she was comparing and contrasting the 2008 blast with 2006 blasts which had killed more than 37 and injured more than 200. It is also known from news reports that the perpetrators including Ramji Kalsangra had tried to park the motorcycle at the Nukad (corner) of Anjuman Chowk. But the lady police there resisted this.

With the hindsight, one can see that the Sadhvi was contrasting Bhiku Chowk blast with February 2007 Samjhauta Express attack which had a toll of nealy 70 killed and many more injured. This would mean that she had been monitoring all these events along with Swamy Asimanand, Major Ramesh Upadhyay and others. The huge amount of money that exchanged hands in these three attacks naturally was sourced from Gujarat. A part of the fund that Chief Minister Narendera Modi had gifted to the Swamy could also have ended up in these operations. So far there is no verification by the investigation agencies.

All these would make one infer that 2006 was the precedent if not a dry run. The main accused in 2006 blasts Abrar Ahmed has clearly identified the Sadhvi to whom he was introduced in Indore in October 2006. What is interesting to note but not news to the informed ones is that the conspiracy was hatched at the Ashram at Valsad (in addition to Bhopal, Nasik, Indore, etc) run by Asimanand. There is greater ramification of this since Abrar was clearly used by the senior SP of Malegaon, Rajwardhan. Abrar’s meeting the Sadhvi and Lt Col Shrikant Purohit was also at the instance of that senior police officer. He on his own could not have taken such a risk. Abrar’s affidavit submitted to Judge YD Shinde has not been fully investigated as it should otherwise have been.

This negligence is mainly on account of the unusual hurry of concluding investigations as well as total lack of corroborative evidence in the matter of 2006 blasts. Mere confession under duress and torture is no evidence. In 1000 days, the CBI/STF/Mumbai have come out with only 65 pages of the purported investigation! The actual corroborative evidence such as the two clean-shaved youths who purchased the two new cycles and strapped the bombs on them which went off at the graveyard and Mushawarat Chowk and the initial questioning of 20 youths and the leading yarn tycoon Mahesh Patodia were not followed up. Nor was the call made to the editor of Marathi paper Dinkar probed seriously. Where had the two suspects, whose sketches were published by the police, stayed? They were outsiders, most likely members of the Bajrang Dal, trained by Abhinav Bharat.

Instead, the police changed horses in the mid stream and went for Muslim youths who had beards. They were the counterparts, in appearance, of Swamy Asimanand, Shankeracharya Dyanand Pandey, Sadhvi Pragya Singh. The bearded, skullcapped, kurta-clad Muslim youths are the counterfoils of the saffron-clad accused. Were they picked up to distract attention from the real perpetrators and destroy the trail? This is the material reason because the Muslim youths’ confessions under torture were used against them as the only evidence. The void of corroborative material evidence is staring us in the face.

Even a lay person can pick holes in these confessions! The confessions must have drawn blank as the accused had not done what they were imputed to have committed. Can the police be as naïve and obtuse as Shakespeare’s constable Dogberry to dictate by way of narrating that Zahid planted bombs in Malegaon when he was physically present in a mosque five hundred miles away in a village of Yavatmal district at the time of the blasts? As imam of the Phoolsanghvi mosque, he had led the Friday prayer there. Do the illiterate or semi-literate accused living in ghettos suddenly pick up Sankritized Hindi to tell and narrate their involvement to the recording officers? Conduct a survey, as this writer did, to ascertain how many hutment-dwelling neighbours of the accused number one Noorulhoda know the words of chaste Hindi found in his confession. Perhaps his recording officer SP of Thane, Archana Tyagi, is not only conversant but also erudite with chaste Hindi. To sample a few: adhikshak, adhikari, anya viyaktyo, bandhankarak, charcha, gramin, nishchay, parivartan, sambodhit, uttar, etc.

Accused number 3 is a second-standard drop out. Mohammad Raees Rajjabali Mansuri is certainly illiterate. Why didn’t then the police record his confession on tape or make a video recording of it? The recording officer must have himself narrated what the police wanted to put on the paper. Raees is also an Urdu-speaker like Noorulhoda and the other accused. It is an anathema that Sanskritized Hindi words are ascribed to him which he could not have even heard in his whole life! The English adage goes: style is the man. In the confessions of 2006 case, the gender is mixed. There was a woman, Archana Tyagi, with several other men working in the force at the time.