Charges against eight Muslim youths accused in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts case were on Monday dropped by a special court in Mumbai due to lack of evidence against them.
The accused were discharged by V V Patil, Designated Judge of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), nearly 10 years after the serial bomb blasts outside a Muslim cemetery near a Mosque at Malegaon, near Nashik, on September 8, 2006, killing 37 people and leaving over 100 injured.
Bombs were planted on a bicycle parked near the cemetery while Friday prayers were on at the Mosque on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat.
Nine accused were initially arrested in the case and chargesheeted by the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS). One of them died while the case was pending. Later, CBI, which took over the investigations, also confirmed the charges against them.
Subsequently, NIA was asked to probe the case and the agency arrested another set of people belonging to the majority community, who continue to be accused in the case.
The judge said that he was accepting the discharge application filed by the 8 accused as there was no evidence to prove their guilt.
The case was later handed over to the CBI, which endorsed the findings of Maharashtra ATS, before it was transfered to NIA after it came into existence in 2009. After the confessions made by Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast, the role of Hindu right wing organisation ‘Abhinav Bharat’ in the blasts came to light.
Following Aseemanand’s confession, the accused moved the court with discharge applications. In May this year, NIA filed its charge sheet in the case against four accused– Lokesh Sharma, Dhan Singh, Manohar Singh and Rajendra Choudhary, contradicting the findings of the ATS and the CBI.
Malegaon had seen another terror attack on September 29, 2008, also allegedly masterminded by ‘Abhinav Bharat’ in which seven persons were killed.