Malegaon blast case trial begins after 10 years, 2 witnesses examined

The investigation and trial of the Malegaon blast have seen delays at numerous stages despite state law enforcement making the 12 arrests by November 2008. The state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad said the attack was planned by right-wing Hindu groups and aimed at Malegaon’s Muslim population.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2018 11:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
malegaon blast case,malegaon blast case trial,col prasad purohit
The investigation and trial of the Malegaon blast have seen delays at numerous stages despite state law enforcement making the 12 arrests by November 2008. (Reuters File )

A little more than 10 years after the blast that killed six and injured over 100 in Malegaon, the trial against the seven accused in the case, including Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit and Pragya Singh Thakur, began on Monday. The accused in the case have been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and have multiple charges against them including murder, criminal conspiracy and promoting enmity between two religious groups.

Last month, the special court in Mumbai issued summons to 14 witnesses from a list submitted by special public prosecutor Avinash Rasal.

Rasal examined two witnesses on Monday.

The first was the doctor who had carried out the autopsies of four of the six victims who were killed on the spot after the explosives planted on a motorcycle went off on September 29, 2008. The doctor told the court that the deceased had multiple injuries due to the explosion.

The second witness is a local physician from Malegaon. He had examined one of the injured. The survivor had sustained injuries on his face as a result of which his hearing is impaired and he has lost his ability to speak. The doctor told the court that the damage to the injured person’s hearing was due to the loudness of the explosion while the other injuries were also effects of the blast.

Rasal had earlier submitted that the prosecution was calling medical experts as witnesses because some of the accused had not accepted the medical examination papers of the injured and dead as evidence.

Cross-examination of witnesses was adjourned because the lawyer for Dwivedi, also known as Swami Amrit Anand, was not able to make it to the hearing. The court has directed the lawyer to pay a fine of Rs 2,500 to the first witness. The hearing will resume on Tuesday.

The investigation and trial of the Malegaon blast have seen delays at numerous stages despite state law enforcement making the 12 arrests by November 2008. The state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad said the attack was planned by right-wing Hindu groups and aimed at Malegaon’s Muslim population.

In 2011, the probe was taken over by the Centre-run National Investigating Agency, who would later allege the ATS had coerced and manipulated witnesses. The charge sheet was ultimately filed in 2016. There was also a legal battle over the charges with the accused challenging the applicability of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in this case. In December 2017, the special court ordered that the charges under MCOCA be dropped.

On October 30, 2018, the court had framed charges under relevant sections of the UAPA against Purohit, Thakur, Dwivedi, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Major Ramesh Upadhyay and Sudhakar Chaturvedi. Purohit, who has been in jail since his arrest in 2008, appealed against the order before the Bombay high court, which did not grant a stay against the trial.

First Published: Dec 04, 2018 11:08 IST