Will Swami Aseemanand's confession free 9 Muslims?

Mumbai: Will Swami Aseemanand's confession free the 9 Muslim men in jail since September 2006, accused of carrying out the Malegaon twin blasts?

Sabeer Ahmad Masiullah, in his 30s, ran a vehicle repairing shop in Malegaon when a bomb exploded in nearby Bada Masjid, during a namaz.

Two months later, the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad arrested him for masterminding the blast.

The charge sheet said he was a member of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, who received weapons training in Pakistan, and a sample of earth collected from his workshop showed RDX content, an explosive used in the blast.

Also under arrest is Noorulhuda, his employee, accused of planting a dummy bomb on the steps of another mosque, four days after the blasts to confuse investigators.

The ATS also arrested Salman Farsi and Farooq Iqbal, the Unani doctors, calling them co-conspirators.

In all nine Muslim young men, most of them power loom workers with some links to SIMI were arrested. Given that SIMI had its headquarters here till the late 90s it wasn't unusual for many young men to attend its meetings.

Abrar Ahmad is an accused on whose confession the ATS built its case.

Initially an approver, he had said he had participated in conspiracy meeting and planted the bombs.

He later turned hostile claiming he was forced by the ATS to fabricate a conspiracy

This prompted the government to hand over the case to the CBI.

Over the next three years from December 2006 to December 2009, the CBI did not submit any report only to reveal in 2010 that there is not enough evidence to charge the accused, though it believes these nine men were the culprits.

Now, as Aseemanand confesses relatives feel vindicated.

''They booked him as the mastermind. He was kept in prison for a month or more. He was subjected to narco-analysis thrice, and he was tortured,'' said Jamil Masiullah, brother of 'Mastermind' Sabeer Masiullah.

''Since Aseemanand has accepted responsibility for these blasts and said that Muslims are not involved in them, we had a good ground to file the bail application, and we have done so," said Jaleel Ahmed, Lawyer.

With the CBI expected to visit Malegaon this week, the reinvestigation gathers pace.