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.Updated: Apr 25, 2017 13:41 IST
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 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.
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)