NIA clean chit to Pragya Thakur, 5 others in Malegaon blast case
MUMBAI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) dropped all charges against religious leader Pragya Thakur (in pic) and five others for lack of evidence in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, saying a shoddy probe by Maharashtra authorities forced the U-turn.
The investigators revoked provisions of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case and alleged the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) planted explosives on one of the accused.
The September 2008 blast in the Muslim-majority Malegaon town killed six people and injured 101. HT had reported on April 24 that the NIA was planning to let Thakur and others off the hook for lack of evidence.
The NIA charge sheet triggered Opposition allegations of Hindu terror suspects being let off under government pressure.
When asked if errant ATS officials will be prosecuted, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis appeared non-committal. “I am not aware of the details of what NIA has submitted, so I will not be able to comment on it at the moment.”
The charge sheet said an assistant police inspector Shekhar Bagade went to the house of an accused, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, when he wasn’t at home on November 3, 2008. >> CONTINUED ON P13 >> RELATED REPORTS, P5 & P6