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19 November 2011

'Give our dignity back' say released Malegaon blasts accused

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By Shahid Raza Burney

Mumbai: Seven out of nine accused charged in the Sept. 8, 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts that killed 37 people and wounded hundreds, were released on bail on Wednesday on the order of the Special Court in Mumbai, ruling that they were innocent and were falsely implicated in the case by the police.

Speaking to Arab News on Thursday, prior to leaving for their homes in Malegaon, the seven released accused Salman Farsi, Shabir Ahmed, Nur-Ul-Huda Doha, Raees Ahmed, Mohammed Zahid, Javed Shaikh and Farouq Ansari said “The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad falsely framed us. We want our dignity and five years of life back."

The seven were released on bail except for the other two accused Asif Khan and Mohammed Ali, who were also granted bail in the case but were not released as they are also accused in the serial train bomb blasts in Mumbai in 2006.

A large crowd of more than 2000 Muslims had gathered outside the high security Arthur Road prison to accord welcome to the released accused that walked to freedom and into the eager arms of their loved ones, relatives and friends amid emotional scenes with the accused crying bitterly.

A special Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Nov. 5 had given them bail after the federal National Investigation Agency (NIA) decided not to contest their fresh bail applications, claiming that there was not enough evidence against them. The National Minorities Commission chairman Wajahat Habibullah had also forcibly argued with the government early on November that all the Muslim youths framed in the Malegaon bomb blasts were innocent and should be released on bail and that the federal government instruct the prosecution lawyers not to oppose their bail application.

The ATS had picked the nine Muslim youths from Malegaon within days stating that they were Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) members and had plotted and executed the bomb blasts. Even as the arrested Muslim youths were languishing in prison waiting for their trial to begin, there was a dramatic turnaround and late last year when Swami Aseemanand, who was arrested in 2008 for his alleged role in the Malegaon bomb blast, reportedly confessed that Hindu militants and not Muslims were behind the 2006 blasts.

Swami Aseemanand’s confession led to a fresh campaign to secure release of the nine arrested Muslim youths. As the accused emerged out of the prison gates, the large crowd shouted "Allahu Akbar" and all of them said that they were thankful to Allah for their freedom.

Gulzar Ahmed Azmi, secretary of the Legal Cell of the Jamaat-Ul-Ulema of Maharashtra unit which fought for the bail of the nine accused said: “We have stood our grounds that innocents should be released. The fight is only half won; we still have another struggle ahead: To get all the nine Muslim boys cleared of all allegations.”

(Courtesy: Arab News)

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