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Free Malegaon innocents: minister

Maharashtra’s home minister RR Patil has written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take a fresh look at the demand being made by the relatives of 13 men arrested for the September 2006 Malegaon blasts, considering the recent revelations of Swami Aseemanand.

mumbai Updated: Jan 11, 2011 02:14 IST
HT Correspondents

Maharashtra’s home minister RR Patil has written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take a fresh look at the demand being made by the relatives of 13 men arrested for the September 2006 Malegaon blasts, considering the recent revelations of Swami Aseemanand.

The 13 men, all Muslims, most of them locals, were arrested by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) soon after the blast and have been in jail since.

Following Aseemanand’s confession before a magistrate in New Delhi last month that the serial blasts at Malegaon were the handiwork of his radical Hindu group, a delegation of family members of those arrested — led by Malegaon-based lawyer Momin Mujeeb Ahmed and Naseem Khan, Maharashtra minister for minority affairs — met Patil at his official residence on Monday morning.

“In view of Aseemananda’s confession, we think the case has assumed new dimensions that need to be looked at and demands made by the relatives should be revisited,” Patil later said.

Aseemanand, member of the right-wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat, is also an accused in the Ajmer Sharif, Hyderabad (Mecca Masjid) and Samjhauta Express blasts that killed more than 100 people in 2007.

“We not only want those who have been wrongly arrested released but the families that have suffered should also be compensated,” Khan said.

“Also, the police officers who framed innocent people should be punished.”

“I have four children and it is difficult to keep living off my relatives. I have approached all possible ministers but nothing has happened,” said Qamar Jahan, wife of blast accused Shabbir Ahmed. “Like the Aarushi murder case, CBI should reinvestigate the Malegaon blasts,” said Naseem Siddiqui, president of Maharashtra State Minority Commission.

The state government, in December 2006, had transferred the case to CBI, after various organisations alleged ATS had arrested the wrong people. Four years later, CBI filed a chargesheet admitting it had failed to find any new evidence against those arrested.