Malegaon blast accused: NIA opposes Purohit’s bail plea

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur but turned down the plea of co-accused Colonel Purohit. The order is likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court

 PTI Photo
PTI Photo
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PTI

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Takhur, accused of plotting the 2008 Malegaon blast on a surety of ₹5 lakh, but denied any relief to co-accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit.


A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi directed Sadhvi Pragya to surrender her passport to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and not to tamper with the evidence. She has also been asked to report to the NIA court as and when required.


"We have said in our order that prima facie there is no case made out against Sadhvi," Justice More said while refusing to stay Tuesday’s order.


Eight persons were killed and nearly 80 others were injured when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded in Malegaon on September 29, 2008.


Sadhvi Pragya and Purohit were arrested in 2008 and are in jail for the past eight years. The NIA did not oppose the plea of Pragya Thakur but opposed the plea of Colonel Purohit. The NIA court had earlier rejected the bail applications of both.


The NIA had dropped Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) charges against the two accused while retaining charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Arms Act etc. against Colonel Purohit. While Maharashtra ATS (Anti-Terror Squad) had arrested Sadhvi Pragya Thakur because the motorcycle used in the blast was registered in her name, the NIA, which took over the investigation in 2011, had told the court that the motorcycle was used by another accused who remains an absconder, widely suspected to have been killed.


Senior Counsel BA Desai , appearing for some of the victims, opposed the bail plea and argued that the NIA court had found prima facie evidence against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, who is also accused of supplying the RDX used in the blast.


He also argued that there were data extracted from computers and pen drives, call records and confessions to prove the guilt of the Sadhvi.


Earlier, while rejecting the bail plea of the Sadhvi, the NIA court had also said, “It cannot be said that due to the filing of further report by the NIA, there is any change in circumstance. If this is the position, then merely on the ground that now NIA has given no objection, it is difficult to accept the prayer of the applicant.”


The families of the victims, who had filed an intervening application challenging Sadhvi Pragya's bail plea, on Tuesday sought from the court a stay on its order so that they can appeal against it in the Supreme Court.


According to the investigating agencies, the blast was allegedly carried out by right-wing group Abhinav Bharat and a total of 11 persons are at present in jail in the case, including Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya.


The families of some of the victims of the blast argued that the plea be denied for there exist ample evidence in the ATS' charge sheet to establish that Thakur was one of the main conspirators of the blast.


The NIA had opposed Purohit's bail plea and argued that there was prima facie evidence in the form of audio and video recordings, call data records and witness statements that prove his involvement in the case.


According to the NIA, Purohit had taken active part in the conspiracy meetings and even agreed to arrange explosives to be used in the blast.


Purohit had argued that the NIA was "selective" in exonerating some accused persons and that the agency had made him a "scapegoat" in the case.


With inputs from NH Political Bureau

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