2008 Malegaon blasts: ATS, NIA claim ignorance in HC on audio-visual clips
In the charge sheet filed by the ATS, Thakur has been accused of attending meetings convened by the right wing group in cities such as Bhopal, Indore, Faridabad, Dharamkot, and Ujjain
The hearing of the bail plea filed by Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, one of the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, in the Bombay high court took a new turn on Tuesday. While responding to the court’s query, the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) and the National Investigating Agency (NIA) said they were clueless about the transcripts, if such existed, to back the ATS’ claims that Thakur was part of Abhinav Bharat meetings where the blast was planned.
In the charge sheet filed by the ATS, Thakur has been accused of attending meetings convened by the right wing group in cities such as Bhopal, Indore, Faridabad, Dharamkot, and Ujjain. It also mentioned that key witnesses had heard Thakur discussing the execution of the blast in a “closed-door meeting in Bhopal” on April 11, 2008.
This was the first meeting in which Thakur had made an appearance, the probe agency had claimed and went on to say that the Bhopal meeting, as well as the proceedings of the previous and subsequent meetings, had been recorded by co-accused Sudhakar Dwivedi on his laptop. The ATS claimed it recovered the laptop, seized its hard disk and sent its content to Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Delhi for analysis. It later claimed that audio and video clips retrieved from the hard back their claim.
On Tuesday, a division bench comprising Justice Ranjit More and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi asked the NIA to produce a transcript of the recording made at the Bhopal meeting, assuming that the NIA must have gone through the same after taking over the probe from the ATS. But the central agency said it had no knowledge of any such transcript.
Representing NIA, additional solicitor general Anil Singh said that it “only had the transcripts from the meeting at Faridabad” and that if any more video recordings or transcripts existed, then ATS had failed to hand them over.
“The Fardiabad meeting was held before the Bhopal meeting and the reference to the accused was first made in the Bhopal meeting, so if you have transcripts of the first meeting, the transcripts of the subsequent meetings must be there. What did you do with them? These were crucial meetings and the transcripts are important evidence, so how are they missing?,” the bench asked.
It further asked, “You have written in your own charge sheet that you got the transcripts from FSL and you studied them so why don’t you have it? We want to go through the transcripts, videos, audio recordings, phone records, all that you cited in the charge sheet.”
The bench even summoned ATS officers and sought the list of evidence submitted before the trial court in the case. Later, the ATS then said it had submitted a video clip from the Bhopal meeting but had no audio for the same. While it could not “remember for sure, this clip” it said, “might have footage of Pragya Thakur.”
The bench has now issued an order to the lower court to release copies of 11 CDs, a few video clips, and call detail record the ATS had annexed with its charge sheet. the hearing HC is likely to resume on February 7.