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BJP, Congress take on each other over 2008 Malegaon blasts case

Defending the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA’s) move to drop charges against several accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said on Friday that there was no interference in the probe.

india Updated: May 13, 2016 21:32 IST
Malegaon blasts,Malegaon blasts accused,Malegaon blast Sadhvi Pragya
New Delhi, India- April 27, 2016: Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju during the arrives for the parliament Session in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, (Hindustan Times)

Union junior home minister Kiren Rijiju defended on Friday the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA’s) move to drop charges against several accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, saying there was no interference in the probe.

His remarks came after the Congress mounted an attack on the Narendra Modi government over the NIA’s decision to let Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and five bombing suspects off the hook. The opposition party alleged that the government is trying to save people belonging to the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor.

“Justice should prevail. There should be no interference in handling such cases. Our government has allowed agencies to work independently,” Rijiju said.

Read: Malegaon blasts: Charges against 6 accused dropped; Cong targets PM

The September 2008 blasts in the Muslim-majority Maharashtra town killed seven people. In 2009, the state anti-terrorism squad named 14 people in a chargesheet, including Thakur -who was arrested on charges of being a key conspirator. The case was handed over to the NIA in 2011 along with six other cases related to Hindu outfits.

Rijiju said the NIA filed the chargesheet after completing the investigation into the twin blasts. He claimed the previous government led by the Congress had provoked certain sections by coining a phrase called “Hindu terrorism”.

“UPA has pressurised agencies in their time. For their own benefits they have given another term to terrorism as Hindu terrorism,” Rijiju said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too said there was a conspiracy over Malegaon and Samjhauta express blasts cases, in which Hindutva groups were prosecuted by investigation agencies, and some politicians worked against the country’s interests.

“I was of the opinion from day one that Pragya Thakur and others have just been framed in these cases. All the atrocity a person like Pragya Thakur has undergone, I think had there been any other liberal, law-abiding country there would have been a counter-investigation against people involved in it,” BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said.

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh accused the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of pressuring officers of the NIA to save certain people.

“I will like to tell the central government that we know that you want to save them (activists of Hindu right-wing groups). We know that your relations are with all these people involved in terrorism-related activities,” Singh said.

He accused the Prime Minister, home minister and Union cabinet of trying to save people belonging to the Sangh and involved in terrorist activities by putting pressure on police officers and the NIA.

“As I had predicted BJP and RSS have started the process of saving the Sangh activists involved in terror cases.”

Read: NIA breather likely for Pragya Thakur in Malegaon blast case

First Published: May 13, 2016 19:16 IST