A special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Monday, which discharged the eight men accused by the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) in the 2006 Malegaon blast case, said the ATS officers acted wrongfully during the investigations.
Special judge VV Patil’s order read: “It is important to note that it is the case of ATS that the six bombs were assembled in the godown of the accused no. 2 (Shabbir Masiullah). Accused no 2 was arrested by the ATS on August 3, 2006, much before the bomb blast of September 8, 2006. It appears to me highly impossible and improbable that the ATS which is a most competent investigating agency in Maharashtra would not have conducted raid upon the godown of accused no. 2 after his arrest in serious crime.”
Sharif Shaikh, the advocate for the accused, said the NIA had cleared that none of these men, who were shown as planters, were present at the spots or around the places when the blasts took place. “Shabbir, who was declared a planter and was said to be present at the places where the bombs were made, was in crime branch’s custody in some other case at that time. While Zahid Majid, also accused of planting bombs, was at Fulsawangi, Yavatmal, which is 400 kms away from Malegaon, was teaching Namaz at the time of blast. Around 150 people supported this. Noorul Samshudoha too was away from the spot on the day of the blast,” said Shaikh.
The ATS had heavily relied upon a conversation between two accused and linked it with the blast. Negating this, the court observed that “even if the said conversation had taken place, it cannot be connected with the bomb blasts”. The anti-terror body had also relied on the confession statements of the seven accused and statements of some key witnesses. It had also claimed to have recovered traces of RDX from Shabbir’s residence.
The court, after perusal of the NIA records and other court documents, found that the accused had claimed that the ATS had recorded their statements under duress and they had retracted their statements.
Further, the NIA in their charge sheet, mentioned the instances where the key witnesses listed by ATS had retracted their statement and told the agency that they were being pressurised.
The court also noted the statements of the panch witnesses, who the ATS claimed were present at the time when they recovered traces of RDX from soil samples from Shabbir’s residence and the masjid. They had told the NIA they were never present at the spot and had never signed the panchnama of the recovery of the RDX traces.