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Malegaon blasts case: ex-cop Mujawar claims ATS actually killed 3 accused

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 5:46 IST

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is getting deeper and deeper into trouble in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case.

Former police officer Mehboob Mujawar, who was part of the probe and, in December 2016, filed an affidavit in a Solapur court claiming that the ATS had killed two accused in the case, has fired another salvo. He now claims that the number of accused shot down by the ATS was actually three.

NIA questions Mujawar

The affidavit had come as a major blow to the theories propagated by the ATS. And given the gravity of the fresh claims, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has been probing the matter since 2013, summoned Mujawar for questioning on Tuesday.

Sources said Mujawar, during his eight-hour long questioning, told the investigators that since he was not involved in arrest of the third person, he could not identify him. However, Mujawar reportedly did tell NIA officials about which ATS officials were involved in the killing.

It is suspected that the third person claimed to have been killed in custody could be Dilip Patidar. The other two 'killed', as per Mujawar's affidavit, were Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra.

Officially, as per NIA and ATS records, Dange and Kalsangra are 'absconding', while Patidar is said to be 'missing'.

However, the three do share some things in common - all of them resided in Indore, and were arrested from there. Kalsangra had been Patidar's tenant before being arrested by the ATS.

Pressure increases on ATS

The ATS has dismissed Mujawar's allegations, and claimed that Kalsangra and Dange were seen in Jharkhand in 2013. However, Atulchandra Kulkarni, head of the Maharashtra ATS, could not be reached for comment.

However, advocate Prashant Maggu, who represents Kalsangra and Dange's kin, said: "The ATS cannot be believed, as it appears to be a story created just for face-saving. If it claims that Kalsangra and Dange were seen in Jharkhand, why weren't they arrested? We demand thorough investigations into the claims made by Mujawar, so that the truth is unearthed."

Maggu also alleged that ATS has fabricated the evidence and implicated innocent people in the case.

Background of the investigations

This is not the first time the ATS has been under the scanner in the Malegaon blasts case. In fact, the agency, then led by Hemant Karkare, hit the headlines when Sadhvi Pragya Singh and serving army officer Col. Prasad Purohit were arrested on charges of planning and executing the bomb blast.

It was for the first time that a serving army officer was arrested for terror links and such a heinous crime.

Karkare and his team had received lot of flak from right-wing organisations and political parties, such as the Shiv Sena for arresting the Sadhvi and an army officer. However the then Congress-NCP state government strongly backed Karkare and his team, and gave the ATS a free hand to carry out investigations and take the case to its logical end.

The investigations got a setback when Karkare was martyred in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The arrests of the Sadhvi and the Colonel were claimed to be concrete evidence of the involvement of Hindu radical organisation Abhinav Bharat in terror activities. The NIA too continued the investigations on the same line.

However, the case took a dramatic turn in December 2016 when ex-cop Mujawar, who was part of the ATS team investigating the case claimed that two of the accused, Kalsangra and Dange, said to be absconding, were actually killed by ATS officials eight years back.

Mujawar is currently facing trial in a Solapur court for amassing disproportionate assets, and also under the Arms Act.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 18 January 2017, 9:50 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.