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Malegaon blasts victims and families seek justice, not compensation

For the past nine years, Malegaon has been under the shadow of the blasts that rocked the textile town in September 2006. In the first of a three-part series, we look at how the blasts affected the people of the town, and why some victims have refused compensation from the government.

By Special Correspondent, TwoCircles.net,

Malegaon (Mahrashtra): Nine years after deadly blasts rocked Malegaon, some of the victim families continue to refuse compensation offered by government.
Their only demand? Give us justice and punish the accused.

Malegaon, a textile town in Maharashtra, was rocked on September 8, 2006 with three serial bomb explosions near a Muslim cemetery at around 1.15 pm soon after Friday prayers that left 37 dead and 125 injured.

Within a week of these explosions, the UPA government announced Rs 50,000 as compensation to the families of dead. This amount was increased to Rs 1 lakh after the families protested against such meagre compensation during a meet with Sonia Gandhi and then home minister Shivraj Patil.

However, amongst these victims there were some who rejected the compensation outright and instead sought justice. These families were approached a number of times by government functionaries to accept the compensation, but the families always repeated that they were seeking justice, not chasing money.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested nine Muslim youths from Malegaon and accused them of having orchestrated the blasts. These arrests and investigation were never believed by residents of the town, including the victims.

Malegaon blasts victims and families seek justice, not compensation
Shafiq Ahmed

Shafeeq Ahmed,49, was the first to refuse government’s compensation and raise the demand for severe punishment to the guilty.

Speaking with TwoCircles.net, he said, “I was injured and my 17-year-old son Sajid lost his life on the spot. When government officers came to us I decline their money and told them to find original culprit and punish them first”.

He was not content with the arrests of Muslim youths and rejected ATS investigation outright, terming it “false and misguiding”.

“I never suspected that Muslim youths from my own town can kill their own people. Therefore, I had always demanded arrests of original offenders”, Shafeeq, who runs a medical store, said with gloomy eyes.

Malegaon 2006 blastsvictims
Sajid Ahmed

In 2010, CBI arrested Aseemanand who subsequently confessed the Hindu radical outfit Abhinav Bharat’s involvement in the blasts. This helped National Investigation Agency (NIA) nab the original accused Lokesh Sharma, Dhan Singh, Rajendra Chaudhary and Manohar Narwaria.

This paved way for release of earlier arrested Muslim youths from the case. NIA did not object to their release on bail and despite objection by ATS, the Special court granted bail to the nine accused in the end of 2011.

Shakil Ahmed,50, was another person who refused compensation. Shakil lost his 18-year-old son Shahbaz Anjum, in the blasts. He too refused compensation from government and echoed demand justice for the innocent Muslims arrested in the case and to those who have died in the blasts.

“I was happy when accused from right-wing associations were arrested in the case and innocent Muslims were finally released on bail. But this is not the complete justice as larger conspiracy behind the blasts has not been uncovered yet, “Shakil told TwoCircles.net.

Currently, there are two contrasting charge sheets filed in the case – one by ATS against nine Muslim youths and another by NIA against the right-wing accused.

Malegaon 2006 Blasts victims
Shahbaz Anjum

The court has not yet rejected any of the charge sheet altogether, but the nine Muslim youths were granted bail as NIA, the main investigation agency in the case, did not object.

Shakil says, “Even after nine years of the blasts, we have not felt a sense of justice in the case because right wing’s involvement has came to the fore in 2010 and NIA has not yet interrogated prime accused Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur”.

NIA’s plea for custody of the three main accused in the blasts: Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, Sudhakar Udaybhan Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey and Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyaya has been pending before Supreme Court since November 2011.

According to Shakil, justice is more important to him than compensation. He says, “Our compensation amount is ready with collector and we have been told that we can collect it from there any time but we want to obtain justice first than the money”.

All the victims of the blasts had sent a memorandum to the government in 2010 stating that if government was serious in helping them then it should provide employment to the needy families of some of the victims.

“This demand was never considered by the government”, Shakil said.

Laiq Ahmed was injured in the blasts and he too had rejected compensation amount from the government. Six years after the blasts, he died without claiming the amount but with the demand of justice.

Salman Ahmed, 15, son of Laiq Ahmed told TwoCircles.net, “Even after death of my father, we will not take (compensation) amount and will seek only justice. My father’s soul would be happy if all the original culprits are punished.”

Although the demands made by these families comes across as extremely justified, there is no one to convert their demands into a movement through which government and investigation agencies may be compelled to provide speedy justice to these victims. As of now, the families continue to live with the pain of having lost their loved ones, but their fight will not be over until they achieve their one true goal: justice.