They were arrested in 2006 for their alleged part in three bomb explosions that took place in Malegaon in India’s Maharashtra state. The blasts took place on 8th September, 2006 , close to a mosque immediately after the time of Friday prayers. 37 people were killed, mostly Muslims.
After 10 years, on April 25, 2016, they were set free by the court saying there is no evidence against them.
With in few weeks of the blast in 2006, the state Police had arrested them. They were 9 men, most of them members of banned Students Islamic movement of India, an Islamist organisation which had played its part in trying to radicalize Indian Muslims and also in some terrorist activities. Police claimed that those arrested had close links with Pakistani terror groups. The investigation was later handed over to India’s premier investigation agency, the Central bureau of Investigations (CBI). CBI also confirmed what the state Police claimed.
After the Mumbai Islamist terror attack of 2008, a separate National agency was set up by Indian government to investigate terror attacks. The National Investigation Agency, NIA , while probing other cases caught hold of one Swami Aseemanand. In 2010 he confessed before a magistrate that he and some of his Hindutva activist friends of a group called Abhinav Bharat were responsible for the 2006 Malegaon blasts. Later the NIA came to a conclusion that Hindutva groups were probably responsible not only for Malegaon 2006 blasts, but also for blasts in Indo-Pak Samjhauta Express (February 2007), the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad (May 2007), the Ajmer Dargah (October 2007), and then Malegaon once again in September 2008.
In 2011 the NIA did not oppose the bail plea for the 9 men. Thus after 5 years they were able to get out of jail. In 2013 NIA told the court that there is no good evidence to incriminate them. Now after another 3 years the court has pronounced them not guilty.
Many a time Indian Police has been accused for “manufacturing” terrorists in high-profile terror cases . With a Hindutva supporting government in Delhi and many of the states this may not be the last time that innocent people are put in jail for terrorism while real culprits roam free. Also there is a question mark on the future of terror cases in which members of the Hindutva outfits are the accused. Still this judicial verdict give us hope that though delayed, justice will be delivered in the end.