Sadhvi, five accused let off in Malegaon terror blast
Sadhvi, five accused let off in Malegaon terror
Mumbai: In a complete about turn, the National Investigation Agency
(NIA) on Friday, 13th May 2016, gave a clean chit to Malegaon blast
key accused Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur and five others, paving the way for
their early release from prison.
However, eight more accused, including
LT. Colonel Prasad Srikant Purohit, will continue to be prosecuted for their
role in the September 29, 2008 terror bombing that claimed at least seven lives
in the Muslim majority town of Maharashtra's Nashik district.
The NIA in its supplementary charge-sheet
filed before a special court here decided to drop terror charges under the
Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against all the accused, an
official said. Confessions made before a police officer are admissible in a
court under the dreaded law.
Those who remain accused will now be
prosecuted under the lesser stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or
UAPA, for their role in the bombing that had brought to fore the so-called
"right-wing terror" in India. Most of the accused in such terror
cases were linked to Hindutva groups, including the Rashtriya Jagran Manch and
The accused given clean chit on Friday
include the Sadhvi, Shiv Narain Kalsangra, Shyam Bhavarlal Sahu, Pravin
Takkalki alias Mutalik, Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh Choudhury.
"During investigations, sufficient
evidences have not been found against (the accused) and the NIA has submitted
in the final report that the prosecution against them is not
maintainable," the NIA said, after public prosecutor Geeta Godambe filed
the charge sheet in the court of Special Judge S.D. Tekale.
The premier terror probe agency said no
offence was established under the MCOCA in this case against anybody and the
NIA made it clear that it didn't not rely on the confessionals recorded by the
Mumbai Anti Terror Squad (ATS)
under the law.
The Sadhvi's lawyer Sanjiv Punalekar
told IANS that the NIA had decided to drop charges against his client due to
lack of sufficient evidences against her.
"The charges against the six
accused have been dropped while the charge sheet is being filed against the
other remaining accused," Punalekar told. The six accused are likely to be
released from prisons soon, he told reporters.
The Malegaon 2008 blast was the first
terror case involving the hitherto unknown "Hindu extremists" and was
initially investigated by police and later by the ATS led by its chief Hemant
Karkare, who was killed in the November 26-28, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks.
In April 2011, the case went to the NIA
which was formed in 2009, months after the Mumbai carnage. The NIA earlier had
maintained the list of 14 accused named by the ATS. Two more - Ramchandra
Kalsangra and Sadeep Dange - had been declared absconding.
The NIA took charge of the Malegaon
case in view of its nationwide ramifications and because of the involvement of
the accused who were also wanted in other terror cases in different parts of
The Malegaon blast case probe had riled
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing groups, accusing the then
Congress-led government of giving religious colour to terrorism by going after
Hindutva activists without any evidence against them.