Lt Col Purohit walks out of jail: Status check of 7 ‘Hindutva terror’ cases
Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit has walked out of jail after getting bail in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. The NIA is investigating seven terror cases in which Hindu right-wing groups are suspects. Here’s a status check:
The National Investigation Agency investigated seven terror cases in which Hindu right-wing groups are suspects. These cases – involving attacks where Muslims were targeted -- were handed to the federal agency by the previous UPA government. This is also when the NIA made most of the arrests, including that of Swami Aseemanand and Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit.
After remaining in jail for nine years, Purohit -- one of the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast -- walked out of the Taloja prison on Wednesday.
There have been allegations that over the past three years, the pace of investigations in these cases has slackened and witnesses have turned hostile where the accused belonged to organisations close to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Here’s a status check of the cases by Hindustan Times:
Malegaon blasts (2006)
CASE: Four explosions took place outside a mosque on September 8, 2006, killing 38 people.
PROBE: The Maharashtra ATS and CBI chargesheeted nine Muslims. The NIA, which took over the case in 2011, filed another chargesheet naming four alleged Hindu extremists. The special court hearing the case discharged all the Muslim accused arrested by state ATS.
STATUS: Trial yet to begin.
Samjhauta Express blasts (2007)
CASE: Explosions occurred near Dewana railway station in Haryana’s Panipat district, killing 68 people, mostly from Pakistan, on the night of February 18. The train was on its way to Lahore from Delhi.
PROBE: The NIA has filed chargesheet against eight people, of whom one is dead and two are at large.
STATUS: Trial is on.
Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast (2007)
CASE: A powerful IED blast in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid area of Hyderabad on May 18, killed 14 people.
PROBE: The Hyderabad police rounded up dozens of Muslims but could not get any breakthrough.The case was then handed over to the CBI, which arrested Aseemanad, an accused in the Samjhauta train blasts case also. The first chargesheet was filed by the CBI, then the case was handed over to the NIA.
STATUS: Trial is on.
Ajmer dargah blast (2007)
CASE: A tiffin bomb exploded on October 11 during Ramzan at the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah in Ajmer, killing three people and injuring 12. Later, three more bombs were recovered from the premises.
PROBE: Of 13 accused, three are absconding and one -- Sunil Joshi -- is dead.
STATUS: A Jaipur court on March 8 had convicted three persons -- Joshi, Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel -- but let off former RSS member Aseemanand and six others. On March 22, the court sentenced Gupta and Patel to life imprisonment. The magistrate also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on Patel and Rs 5,000 on Gupta.
Sunil Joshi murder (2007)
CASE: Sunil Joshi, the leader of an alleged Hindu extremist group believed to be behind most of the right-wing Hindu terror cases, was shot dead on December 29, 2007 when he was walking back to his hideout at Chuna Khadan locality in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. The group included Pragya Singh Thakur, Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange, Ramji Kalsangra, Rajendra Pehelwan, Dhan Singh, Amit Chauhan and Aseemanand.
PROBE: After completing the investigation, the NIA handed over the case to the Madhya Pradesh police saying it had not found any evidence to suggest that his murder was linked to the larger Hindu terror conspiracy. The agency alleged that Joshi was killed by his own men as they were unhappy over his ‘misbehaviour’ with Pragya Singh Thakur.
STATUS: Trial ended on February 1, 2017. All eight accused, including Pragya Singh Thakur, acquitted.
Malegaon and Modasa blasts (2008)
CASE: Twin explosions took place in Malegaon (Maharashtra) and Modasa (Gujarat) on September 29. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) mounted on motorcycles were planted at both locations, killing a total of eight persons.
PROBE: The Maharashtra ATS claimed to crack the Malegaon case. Pragya Singh Thakur, along with a serving army official, Prasad Srikant Purohit were arrested and chargesheeted in the case.
STATUS: The NIA dropped charges against Pragya Singh Thakur and the special court is yet to take a call on it. The Modasa blast case was closed by the NIA citing lack of evidence. After remaining in jail for nine years, Lt Col Purohit -- one of the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast -- walked out of the Taloja prison on Wednesday.