A special court in Mumbai discharged eight of the accused in the 2006 Malegaon blast case on Monday, stating there was no material evidence against them.
All accused were granted bail by a trial court in November 2011 after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) gave no objection to their bail pleas. Of the nine accused, one Shabir Ahmed died in an accident in 2015.
The accused, including Salman Farsi, Noorulhuda Doha, Rais Ahmed, Mohammed Ali, Asif Khan, Javed Sheikh, Faroogue Ansari and Abrar Ahmed, were being investigated for four bomb explosions on September 8, 2006, that killed 37 people and injured more than 100. The explosions took place near Hamida Masjid in the Bade Kabarastan area of Malegaon.
Five days later, on September 13, a fake bomb was found on the staircase of Mohammedia Mosque.
The probe was taken over by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), which arrested the nine people, claiming the blasts were carried out by the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The case was later handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Endorsing the ATS’ claims, the central agency added four more names to the list of accused.
After Swami Aseemanand confessed before a court that the blasts were carried out by a Hindu group, the investigation was transferred to the NIA on April 6, 2011.
The agency claimed that Sunil Joshi, who was a key conspirator in the 2008 Malegaon blast and was found murdered later, was also the conspirator of the 2006 blasts.
The agency filed a charge sheet in the case against Lokesh Sharma, Dhan Singh, Manohar Singh and Rajendra Choudhary.