After two years, NIA rethinks Malegaon case; pleads the court against the acquittal of Muslims youths
Two years after it said it had no evidence to link the Muslim youth in Malegaon blast case, National Investigating Agency (NIA) has made a volte face. The investigating agency has told the Mumabi court that it opposed the acquittal of nine Muslim youth accused in the case. Earlier the investigating agency told the court that it found no evidence linking the Muslim youth to the blast case in which 36 people were killed in 2006.
The NIA counsel Prakash Shetty told the court that NIA report in 2014 submitted to the court was not a fresh report and and hence should be seen as continuation of the investigations done by the local police and then the CBI. The Malegaoen blast case were investigated first by the State Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) and then by the CBI. While both these agencies claimed to have found evidence linking the nine Muslims youth to the blast, NIA report in 2014 to the court said they found no proof to suggest the involvement of the Muslim youths in the case.
It was in 2011 that NIA counsel Rohini Saliain told the court the NIA investigation has found the involvement of right wing extremists in the case after the revelations by Swami Assemanad. In fact the investigations found two sets of people guilty. While the ATS arrested nine Muslim youths, the NIA arrested four right wing Hindu extremists. Prakash Shetty told the court that it is not the right time to evaluate the evidence against the two sets of accused independently and therefore the Muslims accused in the case should not be discharged. The ATS counsel has also opposed the discharge of the Muslim youths. Defence lawyer Sharif Sheikh contended that since the case has been transferred to the NIA, the ATS has no locus standi in the case. The Sessions judge V V Patel is expected to pass final order on April 25th.
Rohini Salin was the NIA prosecutor to the Malegaon blast in 2008 in which four Muslims were killed. Last year she told the Indian Express that since Narendra Modi government took over she was asked to go slow on the case in which Hindu extremists were the accused.