India

Malegaon blast: Col Purohit, Aseemanand and Sadhvi Pragya’s Names Missing from Chargesheet

BeyondHeadlines News Desk

MUMBAI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday filed its chargesheet in the Malegaon 2006 bomb blast case against four accused Lokesh Sharma, Dhan Singh, Manohar Singh and Rajendra Choudhary. The chargesheet, running into five volumes, was filed in a Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court of special judge Prithviraj Chavan.

Ramji Kalsangra has been shown as absconding accused in the chargesheet. The bombings were part of a series of explosions that had taken place on September 8, 2006, in Malegaon, a communally-sensitive town in Nashik district of Maharashtra, located about 300km from Mumbai.

Malegaon blast: Col Purohit, Aseemanand and Sadhvi Pragya's names missing from chargesheet

The explosions, which caused the death of 37 people and injured over 125, had taken place in a Muslim cemetery, adjacent to a mosque, at around 1.15pm after the Friday prayers on the “Shab-e-Baraat”, a holy day. Most of the blast victims were Muslim pilgrims. According to police, two bombs attached to bicycles had exploded, triggering a stampede.

After the blasts, the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had arrested nine suspects.

However, the MCOCA court had granted bail to all of them in November 2012. The probe into the blast was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation which endorsed the ATS findings. The case then went to the NIA, which came into existence in 2009. Malegaon had seen another terror act in 2008 allegedly by right-wing Hindu groups and Sadhvi Pragya Singh and former Lt Col Srikant Purohit were arrested in connection with it.

Dhan Singh said during interrogation that he had visited Malegaon along with Kalsangra, Choudhary and Amit alias Prince on September 1, 2006 and left for Indore the same evening after a recce of target locations. Kalsangra and Amit also known as Ashwani Chauhan, are absconding, NIA said.

Manohar’s role came out before the NIA during the interrogation of Chaudhary, an alleged bomber of Samjhauta train blast, who had claimed to be also a part of alleged conspiracy involved in bombing at Malegaon, the agency said.

The nine arrested Muslim youths came out of jail after nearly five years when their bail plea was not opposed.

Investigations into terror cases like Malegaon took a different turn after right-wing group Abhinav Bharat member Swami Aseemanand stated in his confessional statement before a magistrate that Malegaon blasts were executed by a Hindu group.

Aseemanand, alias Jatin Chatterjee, had stated in his statement that slain RSS worker Sunil Joshi and others were responsible for the Malegaon blasts. However, he later attempted to backtrack from his confessional statement.

Four bombs planted in Malegaon had exploded on September 8. The fateful day happened to be “Shab-e-Baraat”, considered auspicious among Muslims, when they assemble to pay respects to their departed kin. (Courtesy: TOI)

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