Mumbai: NDTV has learnt that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has finally concluded that the nine Muslim men who were arrested and jailed in 2006 in connection with the Malegaon blasts are innocent.
Five years ago, these men were accused of carrying out the twin blasts as part of a plot by the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). But sources have told NDTV that the investigation agency will now not oppose their bail pleas when they come up in court. Thirty one people were killed and 312 were injured in the 2006 blasts.
NDTV has also found that in a U-turn from its previous stand, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has submitted an internal report to the NIA saying only the right-wing Hindutva group activists arrested last year should be probed for the blast. In 2009, the CBI toed the Maharashtra ATS line and chargesheeted the nine Muslim men. The agency retracted in 2010, when Swami Aseemanand confessed that the blasts were the handiwork of a Hindutva group.
As a result of this error in the terror probe, these nine innocent men had to spend five years in prison. The Hindutva group, on the other hand, has not even been named in this case.
The revelation is significant as this is the first time an investigation agency has internally confirmed that the initial Malegaon arrests were wrong and is going to act to set the error right and prepare grounds to discharge them.