New Delhi, October 29 Five years after being picked up by police — and almost a year after Swami Aseemanand’s confession — nine Muslim youths accused in the 2006 Malegaon bombings have their best chance of getting bail. The National Commission for Minorities has asked the government to ensure that they are released at the earliest.
NCM Chairman Wajahat Habibullah recently wrote to the ministries of home and law, asking them to proactively intervene and clear the way for bail to be granted.
“We have learnt that the NIA has carried out polygraph tests and found nothing. So, I have formally asked the government to end the suffering of these young men. After all, five years in prison is a full prison term in many offences. The longer this process takes, the more negative is the impact on the Muslim community, particularly among the youth,” Habibullah told The Sunday Express.
The commission wants the National Investigation Agency to spell out its stand. The NIA, which is the third agency looking at the same evidence, has been saying that it has not investigated the matter enough to give a “clean chit” to the nine accused, but is unlikely to oppose their bail plea at next week’s hearing.
Despite assurances from ministers and other politicians, the matter remains caught in investigations and legal formalities. The Maharashtra ATS, which had filed a chargesheet, found it difficult to retract after Aseemanand confessed that rightwing Hindu groups had carried out the bombings. It sought a copy of the confession, which the court could not authorise for the technical reason that the matter was being heard in another court.
It was also pointed out that the CBI, which had subsequently got charge of the case, too had filed a chargesheet against the nine Muslim youths. CBI director AP Singh appeared before the NCM along with the investigating officer and argued that the agency could not suddenly drop the charges.
After much persuasion, it was agreed that the CBI would not oppose the bail plea. Matters went according to this understanding in the next hearing three months ago, but the MCOCA court still refused to grant bail.
One of the principal reasons for this was the fact that in March, the home ministry had transferred the case to the NIA. So the process started again, and Habibullah discussed the issue afresh with NIA officials, who said they would have to re-examine the entire case.
While much of this process is now over, investigating agencies fear that the accused youths might file cases against them after getting bail. (Courtesy: Indian Express, October 30, 2011)