National

Malegaon charge sheet in a month

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has recorded the statements of nine key witnesses in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, in which Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit are the main accused.

The agency is all set to file the charge sheet in the case in a month.

“The charge sheet will go through five layers of scrutiny before being submitted in court. We intend to complete the procedure in a month and then the trial will begin,” a senior NIA official said.

The case was earlier investigated by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which had arrested nine Muslim men from Malegaon for their alleged role in the crime. They are presently out on bail.

Statements videotaped

“Assessing the importance of cases, we generally record the statements of all the key witnesses on video and the Malegaon blast case is one such case. The video is not admissible as evidence in court, but it is an important tool during the trial when witnesses turn hostile,” the NIA officer said.

After the NDA government came to power, the NIA has come under the scanner for going soft on right-wing terror cases in which members of the Abhinav Bharat were involved. Earlier, special public prosecutor Rohini Salian had alleged that she was asked by the agency to go slow in this case.

The blast in Malegaon on September 29, 2008, left eight persons dead and 80 injured.

The NIA, which took over the investigation in 2011, arrested 11 accused, including Pragya Thakur and Lt. Col. Purohit. On the Supreme Court’s direction, a special court has been constituted to hear the case.

Pragya Thakur’s counsel J.P Mishra said the health of his client was deteriorating fast.

“She cannot move without a wheelchair and is presently undergoing treatment at the Pandit Khushilal Ayurveda Hospital in Bhopal. We are moving a bail application on October 23,” said Mr. Mishra, adding that she had not been granted bail since her arrest in 2010.

“First, the ATS investigated the case and filed a charge sheet. The NIA is continuing the investigation. They examined around 200 witnesses and submitted documentary evidence running into thousands of pages. We will see what new facts emerge,” said Mr. Mishra.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 9:25:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/malegaon-charge-sheet-in-a-month/article7778257.ece

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