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NIA drops charges against Pragya, 5 others in Malegaon blasts case

In an apparent turnaround on Friday, the National Investigation Agency dropped all charges against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and five others in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, while charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) have been given up against all the other 10 accused, including Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit.

‘Not maintainable’

During investigation, sufficient evidence was not found against Pragya and the other five, the NIA said, adding it had submitted in the charge sheet “that the prosecution against them is not maintainable.”

Lt. Col. Purohit and the nine others will now be tried for charges including murder and conspiracy under the provisions of the anti-terror law UAPA, the IPC, the Arms Act and the Explosives Substance Act.

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.

Agency misused: Congress

The Congress dubbed the NIA as “NAMO Investigation Agency”, alleging there was “politically partisan misuse” in the case.

The allegation 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.

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