Malegaon: Ayesha, 4, wears a blank look as her mother Badrunissa talks about her absent father. Raees Razzab Ali was arrested as a suspect soon after the September 8, 2006, Malegaon serial blasts and Ayesha, his daughter, was born when he was in police custody. “She doesn’t recognise him and runs away if he tries to hold her when we visit him in jail,” Badrunissa said.
Badrunissa and the families of eight other Muslim men, who were arrested for the blasts at a mosque in Malegaon that killed 37 people as they were leaving after evening prayers, are pinning their hopes on the confession purported to have been made before a magistrate by Swami Aseemanand, member of the right-wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat, acknowledging responsibility for the Malegaon blast. They all hope their men will soon be released.
Aseemanand is also an accused in the Ajmer, Hyderabad and Samjhauta Express blasts, all in 2007.
“We want an immediate pardon,” said Qamar Jahan, wife of Shabbir Ahmed, who had been named as the mastermind behind the Malegaon blasts in the chargesheet filed by the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS). Qamar is part of a delegation, leaving for Mumbai on Sunday night, which plans to meet the Maharashtra chief minister, deputy chief minister and home minister.
Advocate Momin Mujeeb Ahmed, who is representing some of the Malegaon blast accused, said the delegation would include wives and family members of the accused. “From day one, we claimed that they had been wrongly arrested, but no one was paying heed to us. Now, they will believe us,” Ahmed said.
“My only grudge is that they should have investigated the case in a better way and should not have waited for this man (Aseemanand) to confess in order to believe us.”
Ahmed said they would also seek compensation from the government for wrongful incarceration.
However, families of some of the accused say cannot give them back what they have lost. “Can the government return to us everything that we have lost in the last five years?” said Qamar.
Even the victims of the blasts support the families of the accused. Ashfaq Ahmed, whose sons – Mohammed Umar Farooq, 18, and Mohammed Owais, 8 – were injured in the blasts, said they never doubted that the arrested men were innocent.