ON A day Lt Col Shrikant Purohit got bail in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, family members of his co-accused, who are still in jail, hoped that their kin would also get bail on “grounds of parity”. Maharashtra ATS, then led by Hemant Karkare, who died in the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, got the breakthrough by tracing the owner of the motorcycle on which the explosives were planted in Malegaon. It led to arrest of Pragya Singh Thakur, a former ABVP activist.
Purohit was arrested on November 5, 2008. After him, others arrested are Major Ramesh Upadhyay (retd), Sameer Kulkarni, Rakesh Dhawade, Sudhakar Dwivedi (alias Dayanand Pandey), Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Pravin Takalki, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Ajay (alias Raja) Rahirkar, and Jagdish Mhatre.
Accused Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange are still absconding. Pragya Thakur, Kalsangra, Sahu, Takalki, Rahirkar and Mhatre were released on bail earlier. Those still in jail are Sameer Kulkarni, a former VHP member; Pune-based arms expert and researcher Rakesh Dhawade; retired Army officer Upadhyay; self-proclaimed seer Sudhakar Dwivedi; and Sudhakar Chaturvedi.
On Monday, Nita Dhawade, sister of Rakesh, said, “We hope Rakesh now gets bail from the court on grounds of parity.” Advocate Sanjiv Punalekar said, “On receiving a copy of Lt Col Purohit’s bail order, we will move an application seeking bail for Dhawade and Kulkarni.”
Calling it a “much-awaited relief”, Vishal Upadhyay, son of Major Upadhyay (retd), said, “My father’s bail application is pending before division bench of Bombay HC. Bail for Lt Col Purohit is a big step in our fight for justice, and can be a point of reference in our argument for bail in HC.”
On Monday afternoon, Purohit’s friends, including local BJP corporator Jayant Bhave, gathered at his residence near Pune’s Law College Road, rejoicing the bail order. Purohit’s sister Vasanti also arrived there but did not speak with the media. Purohit, those close to him said, had studied at Abhinav Vidyalay, a Marathi-medium school in Pune, and graduated from the city’s Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce.