the slow progress of probe, this is what Dr Nafees Aimi, wife of Dr
Salman Farsi,one of the accused, has to say. Like Nafeesa, there are
four other women who support each other to deal with the isolation
of being seen as a terrorist’s wife
Five women, dressed in a burkha gather once every fortnight in a
dark, dank room sharing parenting tips -- and discussing the nuances
of criminal and anti-terror laws.
Here in their little world in this North Maharashtra town of dying
powerlooms, they provide each other the hope and support needed to
deal with the isolation and stigma of being seen as a terrorist's
This all-women's club is made up of the wives of nine suspects
arrested for the September 8, 2006, blasts that rocked the textile
town of Malegaon. The three blasts -- in a mosque, a graveyard and a
bustling market -killed 31 people, injured 321.
If the 2006 bombings stigmatised Malegaon as a town seething with
Muslim anger and alienation, another bombing in 2008 turned on its
head the national discussion over homegrown terrorism.
The 2008 Malegaon bombings which killed six and injured close to a
hundred stood out among the hundreds across India this decade; they
were the only ones in which all the suspects were Hindus, including
an army Lt Colonel, raising fears that terrorism in India was taking
a dangerous new turn and that at least some previous investigations
The 2008 investigation started by the late chief of Maharashtra's
Anti Terrorism Squad Hemant Karkare, shot dead by Pakistani
terrorists in the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, is getting back on track.
But the 2006 blasts, which police said were the work of the banned
Students Islamic Movement of India, appear to be largely erased from
Loopholes in the Investigations
Investigation is stagnant: 33 months after handed the
case the CBI is still to file a fresh chargesheet. All arrests
and detentions have been made on the basis of investigations of
the local police and the ATS.
Sketches not matching: The local police had released
sketches of the accused who had brought cycles from the a cycle
shop in Malegaon. All the sketches showed clean shaven men. All
the accused have been keeping beards for years.
Chief conspirator in Police custody: The chief
conspirator Shabbir Masiullah was in police custody since August
2006, a month before the Malegaon blasts took place.
Accused was 700 km away: Mohd Zahid has been accused of
planting a bomb. Zahid, a known SIMI activist, was an Imam at a
Phoolsangvi village in Yavatmal. The place is 700 km away from
Malegaon. Residents of the village have submitted affidavits
stating he was leading Friday congregation prayers at
Phoolsangvi when the blast took place.
Main approver retracts his statement: Abrar Ahmed had
turned approver in the case. Abrar retracted his statement and
claimed that he was offered money by the police to frame the
The euphoria and the vindication that Malegaon's Muslims felt after
Karkare's probe coexists with a growing frustration with the stalled
2006 investigation, now being run by the Central Bureau of Investigation
As Malegaon -- the town is 70 per cent Muslim -- continues its
protests over its Muslim residents say is the "framing" of local
Muslims in the 2006 blast, the wives of the nine suspected bombers
get by with their fortnightly counseling sessions.
"Shoot them in a public place if they are guilty but at least let
the investigations move ahead," said Dr Nafeesa Aimi (38) the wife
of Dr Salman Farsi, one of the accused.
Like hundreds of women in this town of 4.09 lakhs, Aimi is a doctor.
Malegaon's stereotype of a backward, Muslim town (largely second-
and third-generation migrants from UP and Bihar) doesn't work: The
literacy rate at 65.77 per cent is marginally higher than the
national average of 64.8 per cent and way better than the national
Muslim literacy of 59.1 per cent.
Farsi and his co-accused were arrested by Maharashtra's Anti
Terorrism Squad, which in its chargesheet claims are SIMI members
who planned the blasts to incite local Muslims to riot.
The arrests were made on the basis of the confessional statement of
an unemployed man called Abrar Ahmed Gulam Ahmed (38) who turned
approver in the case. Abrar in April 2009 retracted his statement,
claiming the police forced the confession out of him to frame the
It's clear that the ATS chargesheet has loopholes (see box). For
instance, Mohammed Zahid, accused of planting a bomb at Mushawarat
Chowk, was seen leading prayers 700 km away in a village called
Phoolsangvi in Yavatmal district. Nearly 200 Phoolsangvi villagers
have signed an affidavit saying Zahid was there on the day of the
blast, September 8.
"Our only demand is that the CBI should undertake an impartial
inquiry into the case," Iqbal Magdumi (62), a retired Maths teacher
who is the father of another accused Dr Farogh Magdumi (36) said.
The filing of a chargesheet is a formal documentation of accusation.
It is usually done when the investigating officers are sure of
making a water tight case against the accused which would be able to
stand the scrutiny of the Judiciary.
The Supreme Court in February 2008 stayed the Malegaon blast trial,
filed under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA),
which makes confessions made to police admissible in court. Indian
Criminal Laws apart from the ones like MCOCA prevent confessions
made to police from being admitted as evidence in court.
There's no verdict yet from the Supreme Court on whether the nine
accused can even be tried under MCOCA.
Many Malegaon residents, including families of the bombing victims
and families of the accused met Home Minister P. Chidambaram this
year in New Delhi, claiming the innocence of the suspects and
demanding a "proper investigation" by the CBI.
"Have you ever," asked Afia Magdumi, wife of Dr Farogh Magdumi, one
of the nine suspects, "Seen families who have suffered due to the
blasts speaking in favour of people who are alleged to have
committed the crime?"
(Courtesy: Hindustan Times)