On 09/08/2006 at bout 13:15, three bombs went off, almost simultaneously, in the small city of Malegaon, 250 km North East to Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra State, India. The town of about 500,000 people is inhabited mainly by Muslims. 37 people were killed in the attack and over 120 were injured, 20 of them seriously. The bombs were timed to the time that many people left the Mosques after Friday prayers and the streets were crowded. Indeed most of the victims were Muslims.
Malegaon has been the focus of communal tension for some time, which spilled out into the open in 1984, 1992 following the Babri Mosque crisis, and 2001, when there were large scale protest over the USA invasion of Afghanistan. Police had killed 12 Muslim protesters. The erstwhile Taliban regime in Afghanistan had received large support from Muslims in Malegaon. In Malegaon a Hindu militant group ‘Bajrang Dal’ is active. Two ‘Bajrang Dal’ activists were killed in nearby Nanded District in the process of bomb making in 04/2006. .
The blasts come days after Mr Manmohan Singh, the Indian PM, told the country there were intelligence warnings of attacks.
According to some reports explosives were packed on bicycles. Police investigations have determined that the explosives contained a cocktail of RDX, ammonium nitrate and fuel oil — the same mixture used in the Mumbai Trains Bombing just two months earlier. Therefore Maharashtra Police associated the blasts to be the handiwork of banned SIMI.
On 10/30/2006 Times of India reported that first arrest was made in Malegaon blast case and identified as Noor-ul-Hooda, an SIMI activist.
On 06/11/1006 Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) reported that the prime conspirator Shabbir Batterywala was an operative of Lashkar-e-Toiba [LeT] and the co-conspirator is Raees Ahmad was from SIMI, both were still at large.
On 11/28/2006, Mumbai police stated that two Pakistani nationals were involved in the Malegaon explosions. The Anti-Terrorism Squad probing into the case has arrested recently eight suspects, including two booked in the Mumbai Trains Bombing in 07/2006, in connection with Malegaon bombings. According to the Indian police the suspects confessed they had a role in the Malegaon bombings. Two of the detainees, Mohammed ALI Shaikh and Asif Bashir Khan, alias Junaid, retracted before a magistrate, saying they had not made a voluntary disclosure.
Altogether five accused were produced before Judge Mridula Bhatkar who remanded four of them -- Salman Farsi, Farooq Anwar, Mohammed ALI Shaikh and Asif Bashir Khan (Junaid) to judicial custody till 12/15/2006 and Mohammed Zahid Abdul Majid to police custody till 12/16/2006 (see - Kolkata-Corridor). Today (02/2009) all 8 suspects are still in custody but their trial has been stayed by the Maharashtra Supreme Court. The case is not, yet, fully, solved.
Two years later, on 09/29/2008 evening, Malegaon was, again, a subject to double bombings. Two bombs were placed on motorcycles parked in crowded areas days before Eid-al-Fiter and set off after Muslims had broken their Ramzan fast, in the aftermath of Bangalore Bombs, Ahmedabad Bombings and Delhi Markets Blasts. Five Local Muslim residents were killed in the double blast, which police suspected was carried out by a Hindu militant group – ‘Hindu Jagran Manch’. The Indian police arrested an Indian Army officer Lt.Col Prasad Purohit as a prime suspect in the attack.
The blast in Malegaon had sparked mob violence as angry Muslims targeted the local police and grievously injured the first policemen to arrive at the site.