[Raees Ahmed making a point. On his right is Nurul Huda, another accused in the case. (Photo: Special arrangement/ummid.com)]
Malegaon: Putting on a brave front in the wake of the possible impact the statement of the public prosecutor in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, Rohini Salian, may have on their case, Raees Ahmed said his arrest in the 2006 Malegaon blast case brought him closer to Allah and Islam, and he is now fearless.
"I was not a practicing Muslim before I was framed and consequently arrested in the 2006 Malegaon blast case. However, after I was arrested and sent to police custody and then to jail, I became closer to Allah and Islam", he said while talking to ummid.com.
"With every passing day, I became more and more religious - that I never was", he said.
Malegaon in North Maharashtra had seen two deadly blasts in the span of two years, and in two Muslim holy months.
On September 08, 2006 bombs planted inside the Hamidiya Masjid of Malegaon Bada Qabristan exploded a little after the Friday prayers. Minutes later, a bomb exploded at the Mushawerat Square - some 500 meters from the Hamidiya Masjid.
It was 14th of Shaban, and later in the night, thousands of people were expected to visit the Bada Qabristan to offer special prayers. The serial blast had left 32 people dead and over 300 injured - mostly the children.
Raees Ahmed, with eight others of the Muslim dominated city, were charged in the case.
Even as Raees and other Muslim accused in the case were pleading not guilty, terrorists struck the city again - this time on September 29, 2008, and in the month of Ramadan.
Initially, it was suspected that this blast too was the handiwork of the 'Muslim terrorists". Hemant Karkare, then Maharashtra ATS Chief, however cracked the case and arrested 11 accused including Sadhvi Pragya Singh and Col Prohit - a serving army officer.
Swami Aseemanand was arrested later allegedly for being part of the conspiracy hatched for Samjhauta Express train and Ajmer blasts.
The Swami, in a surprising turnaround, not only confessed to his crime but also said the Muslim accused arrested in the 2006 Malegaon blast were innocent. He also said that the blast was carried by the same people who were involved in the 2008 blast. It was in January 2010.
"Day in and day out, we were pleading with the Almighty Allah to prove our innocence. Swami Aseemanand's confession was like a divine gift for us", Raees said.
In the wake of Swami Aseemanand's confession, recorded before a magistrate, Raees and other accused charged in the 2006 Malegaon blast case were released on bail.
Rohini Salian's statement that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is exerting pressure on her to go soft on the Hindutva terrorists came when Raees and other accused in the 2006 blast case are seeking discharge in the case.
On the possible impact of Rohini Salian's statement on their case, Raees said they are neither worried nor scared.
"Our innocence has been proven, and the real perpetrators of the heinous crime are in jail. We are sure, they will be punished for their crimes very soon", he said.
He also said if the case takes a different turn then it would be harmful for the country.
"Jo qaum logo par zulm karti hai aur us par pachtava nahi hota to woh Allah ke gazab ko dawat deti hai. (A society invites wrath of Allah if it commits atrocities on weaker sections and doesn't show remorse", he said.