Alleging that Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur's vertebrae have been damaged due to torture, Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh said on Saturday that he would petition the home minister to safeguard her human rights and ensure a free and swift trial. He also said that she should get bail, both as a woman and a sadhvi.
Agnivesh visited Sadhvi Pragya at the Bhopal Central Jail for more than an hour on Saturday morning in the presence of jail officials. He was accompanied by Manu Singh, the chief of the youth wing of the Arya Samaj.
"I was impressed with the fact that she has just one demand: justice, with a free and fair trial. She has cooperated all through," Agnivesh told HT.
"Her bail application has been pending with the Bombay high court for eight months. She has been subjected to narco tests more than three times, with investigators alleging she changes it through her yoga powers. Three vertebrae of hers have been damaged due to torture. She is also suffering from breast cancer and has had a paralytic attack on the left side."
Agnivesh told HT that while courts would decide the merit of the charges against her, he believed as a human rights activist that Pragya had been subjected to third degree treatment.
No stranger to controversy, Agnivesh has in the past been known to take positions against Hindu right-wing ideas. He was an interlocutor for Maoists, and had criticized the killing of Maoist leader Azad.
Agnivesh was with social activist Anna Hazare's lokpal agitation for a while. He had also written to Pope Benedict XVI against the conversions of "unlettered tribals" and children who could not make an "informed choice".
"I am purely into the human rights' angle," he explained. "This is not a question of left or right. I felt Sadhvi Pragya has truth and integrity. She didn't try to run or hide. Even when hospitalized, she volunteered to come back to jail."
Pragya has in the past alleged torture by the Maharashtra ATS and had even written to President Pratibha Patil about it from Nashik Central Jail in December 2011.