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ATS vs NIA in Malegaon blast case: How one case was built, how one case fell

The NIA chargesheet submitted on Friday, which drops all charges against six of 11 accused, is at sharp variance with what the Maharashtra ATS and the earlier NIA had alleged in its chargesheet.

Written by Sadaf Modak , Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai | Updated: May 14, 2016 8:55 am
The National Investigation Agency on Friday dropped the names of Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur and four others as 'accused' in the September 2008 Malegaon blasts case, in its charge sheet filed before a Special Court in Mumbai on Firday. Express Photo By Ganesh Shirsekar 13th May 2016 The National Investigation Agency on Friday dropped the names of Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur and four others as ‘accused’ in the September 2008 Malegaon blasts case, in its charge sheet filed before a Special Court in Mumbai on Friday.Express Photo By Ganesh Shirsekar 13th May 2016

The NIA chargesheet submitted on Friday, which drops all charges against six of 11 accused, is at sharp variance with what the Maharashtra ATS and the earlier NIA had alleged in its chargesheet. Dropping MCOCA, it doesn’t consider many confessional statements made to ATS.

Consider the key differences:

1. Pragya singh thakur was the first to be arrested on October 23, 2008.

WHAT THE ATS CHARGESHEET SAID: Pragya was present at a meeting in Bhopal on April 11 and 12, 2008, where she along with Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni and Prasad Purohit, Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi, and Sudhakar Chaturvedi conspired to take revenge against Muslims in Malegaon by exploding a bomb in a densely populated area. This meeting followed the first “conspiracy meeting” held in Faridabad on January 25 and 26, 2008. It is at the Bhopal meeting that ATS claims Pragya took “the responsibility of providing men for the explosion”.

The explosives were to be provided by Purohit. This meeting was the first time where the group consented to commit the explosion at Malegaon. These meetings are being referred to as Abhinav Bharat meetings where Purohit plays an important role with Pragya.

Two months later, on June 11, 2008, it was Pragya who introduced two men Ramchandra Kalasangra and Sandip Dange to accused Sudhakar Dwivedi at the Circuit House in Indore. These two men are alleged to be the planters and still on the loose. Pragya’s bike, an LML Freedom, which was used to plant the explosives, was alleged to have been driven to the spot by Ramchandra and his men, While introducing the planters to Dhar Dwivedi, she identified them as her “confidants”.

In the first week of July, Pragya is shown as the key conspirator who directed Purohit to give explosives to the planters at Pune.

Apart from the bike, the ATS also showed a seized laptop of accused Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi which contained audio and videos showing the entire recording of the meetings held at various places including Bhopal and Indore. Pragya had full knowledge of Ramchandra using her bike and was aware of Ramchandra knowingly erasing the chassis and engine number and using a bogus registration number MH 15 P 4572, according to a witness statement.

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WHAT THE NIA SAYS: Bike was purchased by Pragya and registered in her name but it is also evident/on record that it was with accused Ramchandra Kalsangra and was being used by him well before the blast. This was confirmed by five witnesses put on record by ATS who were reassessed by NIA.
Sudhakar Dwivedi’s confessional statement to the ATS — he later retracted this — said it was Pragya who introduced him to the planters now absconding. Dwivedi claimed she telephoned him to say that she had requested accused Armyman Prasad Purohit to provide explosives for the “safety of Hindus”. Purohit was not responding after which she directed Dwivedi to speak with Purohit. Purohit, it is learnt asked Dwivedi not to speak about such matters over the phone.

Another confessional statement of accused Rakesh Dhawde claimed that Purohit told him that two persons of Pragya, Ramji and Sandeep Dange, have demanded RDX from him. He is alleged to have confirmed that Purohit had told him that he arranged for RDX and handed it over to them and they set off the blast at Malegaon. With MCOCA now having dropped, these confessional statements at evidence now stand inadmissible.

On her role as a conspirator, NIA re-examined an ATS witness who has deposed that he did not attend any Abhinav meeting at Bhopal. Another witness in a statement before the ATS claimed to have heard Prasad Purohit explain about jihadi activities in Aurangabad and Malegaon in detail and also appeal others to do something for its prevention. At this stage, Pragya had confirmed she had some people ready for the task.

This witness statement also now stands retracted.

An ATS witness had also come forward and complained to the Magistrate in Indore in 2008 that he was illegally detained and tortured by ATS into giving a statement which claimed that a meeting had taken place between Pragya and Ramchandra Kalsangra. It was this witness whose statement had earlier claimed that it was Ramji who had confessed to having set off the blast at Malegaon using Pragya’s bike and had asked her to inform the police. A witness who claimed to the ATS that “accused Purohit once told him he himself, Ramchandra, and Sudhakar Chaturvedi (planted) the IED in the motorcycle provided by Sadhvi”, has also retracted his statement.

Also read – Malegaon blasts: Cong demands fresh SC-monitored probe

2. Shivanarayan Kalsangra

WHAT THE ATS CHARGESHEET SAID: He entered into criminal conspiracy, between January 2008 and October 2008. Kalsangra and Sahu are shown to have been aware of the procurement of RDX, Ammonium Nitrite, Ammonium Nitrate, the timer circuit and other articles used in assembling the bomb. They are shown to have aided and abetted the other accused as members of an organised crime syndicate.

Kalsangra is alleged to have intentionally concealed two electric timer circuits, which were given to him by Pragya. Kalsangra worked as an LIC agent and an electrician. He was arrested the same evening as Pragya.

WHAT THE NIA SAYS: According to the ATS panchnama dated November 1, 2008, Shivanarayan Kalsangra says his brother Ramchandra gave him two electronic timers for safe-keeping. Kalsangra has been shown as the person who showed where the timers were hidden. ATS recovered these two timers from Indore along with one .315 bore rifle and ammunition at the instance of the accused from his house in Madhya Pradesh. The accused is an electrician by profession and the timer recovered from his residence is not “a controlled” item. The timers don’t have any specific identification by which it can be said that the same set of timers were used in the blast. There is no other evidence to prove his association with the other accused.

3. Shyam Bavarlal Sahu

WHAT THE ATS CHARGESHEET SAID: While he may have not attended all the meetings, he “knowingly facilitated by procuring the mobile phone, SIM cards and mobile refill cards to Pragya and Ramchandra Kalsangra. These cards were shown to have been used in hatching conspiracy and commission of the offence.” He has a side business dealing in mobile connections with a full-time job as an estate agent. Arrested on the same day as Pragya.

WHAT THE NIA SAYS: The only witness against Sahu is a man who worked with him at his mobile shop in Indore. He said that accused Ramji used to recharge the mobile phone from his shop and Pragya’s mobile as well. Ramchandra Kalsangra was also provided five mobile cards by Sahu purchased on various names. No other evidence is available on record to connect him with the blast. In 2008, norms for sale and purchase of SIM cards were relaxed and accused Ramji and Sahu were close friends. Hence the evidence is not sufficient to prosecute him.

Also read – UPA put pressure on probe agencies, NDA govt did not: Rijiju on Malegaon probe

4. PRAVEEN TAKKALKI

What the ATS said: Praveen Takkalki is alleged to have been a close associate of accused Prasad Purohit who received training in making a bomb fuse from accused Rakesh Dhawde at Bhosla Military School, Devlali, on Purohit’s instructions. He is also alleged to have stayed in the house of accused Sudhakar Chaturvedi at Devlali from where RDX traces were recovered by the ATS and where the bomb was assembled in Pragya’s bike.
What NIA says: Each allegation was stated by him in his confessional statement before the ATS. On revocation of MCOCA, the confessional statement does not have any evidentiary value.

5 & 6. LOKESH SHARMA and DHAN SINGH

Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh Choudhary were arrested by NIA for their alleged role in the terror blast in Malegaon in 2006 and the Samjhauta attack in February 2005. They were never arrested or chargesheeted by Maharashtra ATS. Dhan Singh was shown arrested on January 3, 2013 while Lokesh was arrested a day later on January 4, 2013. Lokesh was already in prison as an undertrial for Ajmer, Samjhauta, Mecca Masjid blasts, along with his role being probed in the murder of Sunil Singh.

The two were charged under several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The NIA investigation of the Malegaon 2006 blast, which was signed by Suhas Warke, Superintendent of Police, shows Lokesh Sharma, Sunil Joshi, Ramchandra Kalsangra, Ramesh Mahalkar, Dhan Singh, Rajendra Chaudhary and Manohar Narwaria as having entered a criminal conspiracy. While Sunil Joshi has been murdered, Lokesh Sharma, and Dhan Singh are shown to be in close contact with the planter of 2008 blast Ramchandra Kalsangra since the early months before the 2006 Malegaon blast, thus creating a link between the two terror blasts in Malegaon.

The NIA chargesheet of 2006 Malegaon blast says that it was in a house located at Sarvasampann Nagar, Indore, that the IED equipment were stored, and it was here that Lokesh Sharma and others “took guidance from another accused Sandeep Dange,” who continues to be shown as a wanted accused in the 2008 chargesheet of ATS as well the NIA chargesheet for 2008 Malegaon blast.

While the 2008 conspiracy characters change, the 2006 blast probe by NIA alleged that the conspiracy was hatched by Sunil Joshi (now deceased with Pragya shown as one of the accused behind his murder), Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange.

WHAT THE NIA NOW SAYS on LOKESH: Lokesh Sharma was arrested after the disclosure of Rajender Chaudhary (accused in Samjhauta and Malegaon 2006). Sharma, a history sheeter, was in Mhow Central Jail from May 2008 to February 2009. Therefore, no role could be ascribed to him in this case.

WHAT THE NIA SAYS on DHAN SINGH: During interrogation, Dhan Singh had told the NIA that on September 29, 2008, the day of the blast, on the instructions of Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, he transported the IED-fitted bike from the house of suspect Ramesh Mahalkar to Ramchandra, from Indore to Sendhwa. An official from National Highways Authority of India was examined who said that in September 2008, no toll plaza existed between Indore and Sendhwa so there was no way to verify Dhan Singh’s statement,

A probe into the phones held by Dhan Singh did not “establish” any connection with any other accused. He had claimed that Ramchandra had called him twice on the mobile phone he had given him. NIA says it probed all phone calls made and received on Dhan Singh’s numbers that day and found no call details of any known numbers of absconder Ramchandra Kalsangra.

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  1. A
    Aryaman Singh
    May 14, 2016 at 4:22 am
    Sickular party Congress is responsible for ruining life of Pragys Thakur. She is such a wonderful hindu woman. Look at innocence on her face. She looks like shadow of Sita. Now when NIA had dropped all charges against her under the leadership of greatest nationalist Modi sir, khangress will must submit w hearted apology in full public view to this pure nationalist pious woman prgyaji.
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    1. B
      BharatK
      May 14, 2016 at 6:56 am
      Anti-Hindu Congress thinks it can abuse Hindus, humiliate Hindus, terrorise HIndus, and still keep getting Hindu votes. This w issue was created to keep Hindus in shame, in subjugaiton, and divided. Congress created divisions among Hindus, this is the age-old tactics of Congress party since Nehru days. Get enme muslim votes and then get Hindu votes by dividing them. This is how Congress sta in power so long. Only recently Hindus wake up and started learning this dirty business of anti-Hindu Congress party.
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      1. Kiran Asokan
        May 14, 2016 at 5:54 am
        Indian Express, lt;br/gt;Reading your NIA vs ATS analysis ,by applying common sense it looks like ATS reasoning was illogical and manited NIA's seems to be more logical considering the available evidence..lt;br/gt;But it is sad that Indian Express after your own abalysis as listed above have already posted couple of headlines news lt;br/gt;A which insinuates that NIA is not doing good proper investigation, let's show some balls , if ATS was wrong , let that be corrected.News papers so should not be doing the judgement, we have judiciary for that..Your role in a democracy should be to state the the truth and facts in front of the people .. let them then decide
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        1. P
          Parth Garg
          May 14, 2016 at 8:05 am
          The real offenders have been let loose and the rest would get benefit of doubt. Let us wait to see if the Court takes the bet. Hemant Karkare laid his life in the cause of the nation and in return he gets such an infamy. We are an ungrateful nation.
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          1. Pulak Mukherjee
            May 14, 2016 at 7:57 am
            Extension give to DG NIA are based on two conditions. Firstly, he must implicate Kanhayakumar as an ISIS activist . Secondly he must prove that the saffron terror gang led by Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur is essentially a Bhajan singing group of super peaceful Hindus. This he must achieve by the end of his extension which can be followed by some cushy post-retirement jobs like that of a state governor or ambador.
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