NIA gets custody of 2 more in 2006 Malegaon blasts

The special MCOCA court on Thursday sent two more accused, Dhan Singh and Rajendra Chaudhary, to National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody till January 17 for their alleged involvement in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case. Last week, NIA was granted custody of Manohar Kumar, an alleged bomb-planter in the case.

Without elaborating much on their roles, the agency told the court on Thursday that Singh, also a key accused in the 2007 Samjhauta blast case, played a vital role in the blasts. NIA has claimed that Singh had allegedly done a recce of the target spot days before the blast. Singh's role, like that of Kumar came to fore following a confessional statement given by co-accused Chaudhary.

According to the agency, Chaudhary is the prime conspirator and mastermindes the planning and execution of the 2006 Malegaon blast. Singh has told NIA investigators that he visited Malegaon along with Ramji Kalsangra, Rajender Choudhary and Amit alias Prince on September 1, 2006 and left for Indore the same evening after a recce of target locations. Ramji and Amit alias Prince, also known as Ashwani Chauhan, are absconding.

The bomb explosions in Malegaon, a communally sensitive powerloom town in Nashik district, occurred near a mosque on September 8, 2006, killing 37 people and injuring over 100.

Handing over investigation papers to the court, Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian said both the accused are key to finding several absconding accused. "They had vital roles to play. There are several absconding accused in the case," said Salian.

Meanwhile, Chaudhary told the court that he is under severe pressure from the agency and that his confession was made under duress.

The NIA has also sought production warrant against another key Samjhauta blast accused, Lokesh Sharma, in connection with the 2006 Malegaon case. Sharma, earlier arrested in the 2008 Malegaon blast case was released on bail after the agency failed to file chargesheet against him within the mandatory 90-day period under MCOCA.

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