If questions about the credibility of its probe into the Malegaon blasts were not enough, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad on Monday stoked another controversy by opposing the discharge applications of nine Muslim youth.
The state probe agency had drawn a lot of flak over its arrest of the nine men after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested four people belonging to a Hindu extremist group for their alleged involvement in the blasts.
On September 8, 2006, bombs concealed in tiffin boxes and kept on cycles parked near a mosque in textile town Malegaon went off. The explosions claimed 37 lives and left over 125 injured.
The ATS, which began investigating the case, arrested nine men, claiming that they were members of banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India and responsible for the heinous act.
However, the case took a different twist in November 2010 following the arrest of a seer, Swami Aseemanand, by the CBI from Haridwar. Aseemanand, who was arrested in connection with the Mecca Masjid (Hyderabad) blast case, made a stunning revelation that the Malegaon blasts were the handiwork of his group – Hindu radical outfit Abhinav Bharat.
Investigation into the case was later taken over by the NIA which then arrested four Hindu men from Indore and charge-sheeted them. Once the role of Hindu extremists surfaced in the case, all the nine Muslims were granted bail.
In April, a businessman from Kandivali filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court, seeking action against senior IPS officers, including ex-ATS chief KP Raguvanshi, on the grounds that they had falsely implicated the Muslim youths.