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Sameer Kulkarni, a Pune resident and alleged member of Abhinav Bharat, who was arrested in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast case, walked out of prison on Thursday morning, a day after he was granted bail by a special court in Mumbai. The special court had granted bail to Kulkarni on a bond of Rs 50,000, on grounds of parity. Kulkarni is the 11th accused to be released on bail in the case. Six persons were killed and about 100 others were injured when a bomb, planted on a motorcycle, had exploded in Malegaon, Nashik at 9.35 pm on September 29, 2008. An offence in the case was lodged at the Azad Nagar police station in Malegaon.
According to the prosecution, Kulkarni was the secretary of Abhinav Bharat, and he allegedly helped procure the chemicals used in the explosive after receiving funds from Ajay Rahirkar, another accused and the alleged treasurer of the outfit. It was also alleged that Kulkarni had visited Indore and Nashik to attend meetings of Abhinav Bharat, where the conspiracy to carry out the blast was plotted.
Kulkarni is among the 14 accused booked in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast case. He is the latest among several who have been released on bail this year. In April, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was released on bail and in August, the Supreme Court granted bail to key accused, Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit.
In September, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi were granted bail by the NIA special court, while accused Major Ramesh Upadhyay (retired) was granted bail by the Bombay High Court.
Now, only Rakesh Dhawade, another accused, is still in jail. Two other accused, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, are still absconding. Sources said that Kulkarni, who lived in Bijlinagar in Chinchwad, was closely associated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in the past. A science graduate, he operated a computer shop for a short time, but devoted most of his time to the Hindutva movement and was linked to various right-wing groups in Pune, said sources.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad had picked him up from Bhopal, where he was allegedly working for Abhinav Bharat.
Kulkarni was also named an accused, along with Bajrang Dal activists, in a case registered with the Khadki police station for allegedly assaulting Pastor Peter Davis Silway of Vineyard Church in Dapodi in June 2007. But he was acquitted by the court in November 2008.
“Sameer did not take up the services of any lawyer and had filed his bail application himself. After being granted bail, he was released from jail today at 11.30 am,” said advocate Sanjiv Punalekar. Earlier, Kulkarni was provided legal aid by former Abhinav Bharat president Himani Savarkar, who died in October 2015.
Milind Joshirao, current president of Abhinav Bharat, said, “We are happy that Kulkarni is out on bail. He and his family have suffered for the last nine years. We hope that Rakesh Dhawade is also released soon”.