Malegaon blast: Bombay HC grants bail to Pragya Thakur, no relief for Lt Col Purohit | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Malegaon blast: Bombay HC grants bail to Pragya Thakur, no relief for Lt Col Purohit

Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit were accused of involvement in serial blasts outside a cemetery near Hamidia mosque at Malegaon close to Nashik on September 8, 2006, an attack that claimed 6 lives.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2017 13:41 IST
Ayesha Arvind
Thakur had challenged a lower court who had rejected her bail plea.
Thakur had challenged a lower court who had rejected her bail plea.(HT File)

The Bombay high court on Tuesday gave bail to 2008 Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Singh Thakur but refused relief to co-accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit.

A bench of justice Ranjit More and justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said the court had found “no prima facie evidence against” the saffron-robed religious leader and asked her to deposit a cash surety of Rs 5 lakh.

Six persons were killed in blasts close to a mosque in Maharashtra’s Malegaon on September 29, 2008. In its charge sheet filed next year, the state anti-terrorism squad named 14 people, including Thakur and Purohit who were arrested on charges of being key conspirators.

THE BLAST AND AFTER
INCIDENT
September 29, 2008: A bomb planted on a motorcycle went off at Malegaon, killing six people and injuring 101

MAIN ACCUSED
Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit
Role: He was arrested on November 5, 2008, and according to ATS played a key role in the formation of Abhinav Bharat, with "the intention to propagate a separate Hindu Rashtra with its own constitution".

Pragya Singh Thakur
Role: Her motorcycle was allegedly used in the blast.

Bharat Ratekar
Allegedly a member of Abhinav Bharat, he and Aseemanand, who ran the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram at Dangs in Gujarat, had introduced Purohit to Pragya Singh Thakur.

The case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency in 2011.

The NIA had last year dropped all charges against Thakur and five others, triggering Opposition allegations that the “Hindu terror” accused were freed because of government pressure. The agency said it found no evidence against Thakur and others.

Welcoming the order, Thakur’s brother brother-in-law Bhagwan Jha said the family was delighted. “Finally, we have won. Nine years she was in jail without evidence. Now we will celebrate nationwide,” he told reporters outside the court as he distributed chocolates.

The high court was hearing appeals filed by Thakur and Purohit against an earlier order of a special court that rejected their bail pleas.

The families of the victims on Tuesday sought a stay on the order so that they could appeal against it in the Supreme Court.

THE CASE
October 24, 2008: The police arrest 3 people in connection with the blast — Pragya Singh Thakur, Shiv Narayan Gopal Singh Kalsanghra and Shyam Bhawarlal Sahu
November 4, 2008: The ATS arrests Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, a serving Army officer, for his involvement in the blast
January 30, 2009: ATS files a final charge sheet against 11 accused in the case
July 31, 2009: The special court says the MCOCA charges are not applicable and the case be tried by a regular Nasik court
July 07, 2010: The Bombay high court reverses the order and upholds the charges under provisions of MCOCA
August 2010: Col Prasad Purohit and Pragya Singh Thakur challenge the order of the Bombay high court upholding the MCOCA charges
April 1, 2011: Investigation transferred to NIA
April 15, 2015: SC sends the case back to the lower court to re-consider the applicability of MCOCA
October 12, 2015: The court rejects the bail application of four accused, but held that MCOCA is applicable
April 25, 2017: HC grants bail to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur but rejects bail of Lt Col Prasad Purohit

According to investigating agencies, the blast was allegedly carried out by right-wing group Abhinav Bharat and 11 persons are in jail in the case.

In her appeal, Thakur argued that the lower court failed to take note of the change in circumstances in her case considering that the NIA declared in its charge sheet that it found no evidence against her and charges should be dropped.

Families of some of the victims had been arguing that there was enough evidence in the ATS’ charge sheet to establish that Thakur was one of the main conspirators.

The NIA opposed Purohit’s bail plea and argued that there was prima facie evidence in the form of audio and video recordings, call data records and witness statements that proved his involvement in the case.

According to NIA, Purohit had taken part in the conspiracy meetings and even agreed to arrange explosives.

Purohit had argued that the NIA was “selective” in exonerating some accused persons and that the agency had made him a “scapegoat” in the case.

(With agency inputs)