In a turnaround on Friday, the National Investigation Agency dropped all charges against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and five others in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, while charges under the stringent MCOCA law have been given up against all the other 10 accused, including Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit.
During investigation, sufficient evidence was not found against Pragya and five others, the NIA said, adding it has submitted in the charge sheet “that the prosecution against them is not maintainable.”
Seven persons were killed and 79 injured in twin explosions when people were coming out of prayers during Ramzan on September 29, 2008.
The case was earlier investigated by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) under the leadership of slain IPS officer Hemant Karkare.
In its charge sheet, the NIA said the Maharashtra ATS used torture to extract confessional statements from some accused.
The Congress dubbed the NIA as “NAMO Investigation Agency”, alleging there was “politically partisan misuse” in the Malegaon blast case
The NIA has been ‘misused’ to exonerate those having allegiance to the BJP by any means, Congress spokesman Gaurav Gogoi told reporters.
The Congress allegations came even as the NIA’s special public prosecutor Avinash Rasal threatened to quit as he was reportedly not kept in the loop over the filing of the charge sheet. He later retracted this saying the issue has been resolved with the NIA.
He had earlier in the day expressed dismay over the fact that the charge sheet was filed just days after the NIA had asked him to move an application in the court to inform that it will be filed by the end of this month.
Sufficient proof not found: NIA
Before the National Investigation Agency took over the Malegaon blasts case in 2011, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad had booked 16 people but filed charge sheets on January 20, 2009 and April 21, 2011 against the accused in a Mumbai court.
Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur had moved several applications before the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court challenging the charge sheet and applicability of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case.
“In furtherance of the same, the confessional statements recorded under provisions of MCOC Act by ATS Mumbai have not been relied upon by the NIA in submitting the present final report,” the agency said in its charge sheet.
The charge sheet points to the time lag between the incident and the probe being handed over to NIA.
"The incident took place on September 29 2008, came to NIA for investigation on April 13, 2011. This has led to a situation wherein no additional evidence could be collected from the scene of crime and the veracity of the evidence collected by the previous investigation agency could not be fully substantiated.” Judge S.D. Tekale took cognizance of the new charge sheet and accepted the discharge application filed by Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh Choudhury and discharged the six from the case.