Other States

Malegaon blast case | Victims urge NIA to take ATS’ help, as witnesses turn hostile

A view of the National Investigation Agency headquarters in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

A lawyer, representing the victims of the 2008 Malegaon blast, has written to the NIA superintendent urging him to take the help of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), which had probed the case earlier, citing that several witnesses were turning hostile.

Advocate Shahid Nadeem also submitted the letter in the special NIA court, where special judge P. R. Sitre took it on record.

A copy of the letter has also been marked to the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court.

As many as 208 witness have deposed before the special NIA court, of which eight have turned hostile.

“It can be inferred that the NIA’s competence regarding the trial is reducing based on the pattern of the witnesses. The witnesses are called on by the prosecution without studying their statements and without following any particular sequence,” the letter stated.

While certain accommodations can be made in exceptional cases when witnesses are unable to remain present, such lapses have become routine, it claimed.

“Many able officers [of NIA] assisting the special public prosecutor were not part of the original investigation conducted by the ATS,” it said.

The victims’ lawyer further stated in the letter that the statements of the prosecution witnesses, who have turned hostile, were also recorded by the ATS, and the squad was in a better position to brief and assist the NIA and the court on the issue.

No effort has been made to reach out to the ATS and seek assistance for the trial even though they are the ones that conducted the investigation and arrested the accused, including Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit and others, it said.

The victims have requested that ATS officers be called to assist the NIA in clarifying statements, investigation and any other queries, causing the prosecution witnesses to turn hostile.

Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a north Maharashtra town 200km from Mumbai, on September 29, 2008.

According to the police, one of the bikes found at the spot was registered in the name of BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur, who is currently out on bail.


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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 2:38:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/malegaon-blast-case-victims-urge-nia-to-take-ats-help-as-witnesses-turn-hostile/article37788860.ece

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