It is a fact that the blasts right from Nanded to Malegaon were all inter-linked. Although a different set of persons carried out the attacks, the fact remains that the entire operation emerged out of one similar module. The National Investigation Agency has managed to ascertain that the ammunition for the blasts at Nanded, Modasa, Samjautha, Ajmer, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid were all procured from Mhow in Madhya Pradesh.
The NIA has many in its custody and there are also some who are absconding. It has been almost a year since the NIA was handed over the charge of all the above mentioned cases. But there appears to be something drastically wrong with the manner in which the probe is taking place today as there is no concrete breakthrough as yet.
For starters the probe into cases involving some extremist right wing activists went wrong right from day one. The Nanded blasts which is considered to be the mother of these set of incidents was badly probed and investigators who continued the probe found it extremely tough to make a start. Going into the investigations into the Nanded blasts, the police at first did manage to get a grip of the case, but then again the time lag in probing the matter gave the accused ample time to give the slip.
Today the NIA is faced with this herculean task of cracking all these cases which are inter-linked and sources in the agency say that the foundation of the case itself is extremely weak that they are finding it hard to give it closure. There are leads in every case, but in none of them have they managed to achieve a break through. On one hand the NIA has been finding it hard to dish out the evidence as most of it seems to be lost of destroyed and on the other there are teething problems within the agency which are specifically probing these cases. Take for example the Modasa and Malegaon blasts- it has just two officers on the job. The Ajmer blasts on the other hand does not have a leader at the moment as three officers have stepped out due to personal reasons. The Samjautha blasts investigations too appears to be hitting a dead end as there is no leader in that team as well. In fact this team was pulled up for its slow pace in investigations.
Nearly a year back there was this sensational confession by Swami Aseemanand. The NIA thought it had it all cracked. However there was a turn around when the God Man refuted his statements alleging that the confession was forced. Had Aseemanand stuck to his confession the scenario would have been entirely different and would have made the job of the agency easier. However now they have to start right from scratch as most of the statements will be denied. To make matters worse most of the chargesheets that were filed in these cases were very much dependant on the confession of Swami Aseemanand. Now with him refuting the statements, it would be a herculean task to piece together the evidence that they would have to give the court.
NIA sources however point out that they alone cannot be blamed for the slow progress or no progress into these cases. They were probably the third agency to investigate the same case. It started off with the ATS then the CBI and now the NIA. There has been a lot of activity in between. Ideally the ATS ought to have got it right in Nanded itself as this could have prevented a series of blasts in the days to come. The CBI which took over the investigation too had teething problems while investigating this case. Both the CBI and the NIA point their finger at the ATS and say that had the foundation been laid strongly the investigations would not have been this weak.
However the Maharashtra ATS has its defence. A source who was part of the Nanded probe informed that their hands were tied at that point in time. In a case of terror one cannot restrict themselves to one place only. During our investigation we did find that the men who took part in the Nanded blasts had trained in Pune. However we were not permitted to probe the Pune angle as we were asked to restrict ourselves to Nanded only. They also say the other draw back was that three persons who were involved in this attack were also killed during the preparation of the bomb and this weakened the case.
This shows that there was utter confusion since day one and more importantly there will remain several unanswered questions in this case. Till date the agencies are not able to tell who exactly the mysterious Mithun Chakraborthy was involved in this case. The ATS says it is a fake name, but the fact remains that there was a man like this who played a very vital role in these cases.
While these are details specific to the cases that the NIA are probing, the other headache was the arrest of innocent youth in all these cases. This had to be undone and only then could they start their investigations afresh. The NIA may question some Maharashtra ATS officials who were involved in these cases and find out how exactly such a turn of events take place and why was the matter probed in a different direction.
Status- NIA officials say that there is no cause for panic and these cases will be cracked in good time. There has been plenty of confusion and it would take some time before the wrong has been undone.
In the Modasa blast the chargesheet is yet to be filed. Most of the work has been done by the Gujarat police and they have registered cases under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and also the Explosives Act.
In the Samjautha blasts case, the chargesheet has been filed, but then again the NIA says that the case would result in a closure once the main accused who goes by the name Amith and alias Prince is arrested.
The case of Mecca Masjid is almost similar. There is a supplementary chargesheet that has been filed, but then again they have not been able to nab two important players, Dange and Kalasanghra and have also not traced the local module behind this attack. Moreover there is still confusion as the Hyderabad police continue to hold on to half the case which deals with the unexploded bomb.
In the Malegaon and Ajmer case, the chargesheets have been filed, but the NIA is yet to corroborate the evidence and this job has become tougher as Aseemanand who gave the leads through his confession has retracted his statement. Moreover the accused persons who are the same in the Mecca Masjid case are absconding. In addition to the two names the NIA is also trying to track Amit, Mehul, Suresh Nair, Bhavesh Patel and Jauyanti Bhai Gohil.
As part of the investigations apart from ascertaining that the material had been procured from Madhya Pradesh and a major part of the financing done by Aseemanand, the agency has also got leads regarding the use of mobile phones. The agency says that the SIM cards were procured from Faridabad and all these have a similar series. However the NIA is also tasked with an additional headache in these cases and has also been entrusted with the job of probing the mystery murder of Sunil Joshi. It is believed that this killing had a lot to do with these blasts and Joshi could have threatened to spill the beans which eventually led to his murder. However this one too appears to be having a tough time since by the time the NIA took over the investigation a lot of material had gone missing. Once again the NIA would point its finger at the Madhya Pradesh police who they feel had gone slow which led to this mess.