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May 24, 2013 at 12:46pm IST

2006 Malegaon blasts: Minorities panel slams CBI for wrongful arrests

New Delhi: The National Commission for Minorities on Thursday slammed the CBI for putting "innocents in jail over serious crimes as terror acts". NCM chief Wajahat Habibullah called it dangerous and said that the police and investigating agencies should take utmost care while dealing with such cases.

Habibullah's remarks came in response to a question about National Investigation Agency (NIA) filing a charge sheet in Mumbai on Wednesday against four people suspected to be members of right-wing groups and not proceeding agsinst nine Muslim youths arrested by the Mumbai police and CBI.

Mumbai Police's elite ATS and CBI earlier had filed a charge sheet against nine Muslim youths and charged them with triggering explosive devices on September 8, 2006 at Malegaon, a communally sensitive area 290 km from Mumbai. The youths, who were behind bars for five years, were released after NIA did not oppose their bail pleas.

"This should not have happened as this can be dangerous. Also that this is an indicator that actual terrorists are still out," Habibullah told PTI. He said youths being falsely implicated in such terror cases left a deep scar on their lives. "I mean people desist in giving them jobs or marrying their sisters, daughters...How fair is this?" he said.

Habibullah said he would be taking up the case of the nine youths with the Maharashtra Government and the Centre about a rehabilitation procedure for them. These people need to be rehabilitated at the earliest, he added.

About the efforts made by NCM, which received a delegation from parents of the Muslim youths, Habibullah said it had sent a team to Mumbai to investigate the matter. "Even Mumbai Police had acknowledged its mistake but the case was transferred to the CBI and later to NIA. Now that some other people had been named, truth may finally come out in the open," he said.

Necessary steps should be taken so that a formal acquittal of the set of people arrested by Mumbai police is sought from the court which needs to be backed by a rehabilitation package by the Government, be it the state or the Centre, he added.

Four bombs planted in Malegaon had exploded on September 8. The fateful day happened to be 'Shab-e-Baraat', considered auspicious among Muslims, when they assemble to pay respects to their departed kin. Thirty-seven people were killed in the blasts. Police had arrested nine people immediately after the blast. The accused - Salman Farsi, Shabir Ahmed, Noorulhuda Doha, Rais Ahmed, Mohammed Zahid, Faroogue Ansari, Abrar Ahmed, Asif Khan and Mohammed Ali - were later released after the NIA, which took over the case, did not oppose their bail pleas.

With additional information from PTI