Nearly 10 months after a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Bhopal transferred the Sunil Joshi murder trial to Dewas, where the alleged Hindu extremist was shot dead in 2007, there is no progress in the case in which twists and turns have largely depended on the ruling party in the state and at Centre.
The fate of this trial assumes significance in the wake of the accusation by Maharashtra Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian that the NIA put pressure on her to go soft in terror cases involving Hindu accused.
Joshi, a former RSS pracharak was allegedly killed by his own men on December 29, 2007, on way to his hideout in Dewas, 35 km from Indore. The next day, Right-wing activists killed two Muslim men in retaliation as no one then knew who killed Joshi, who was living incognito.
There were murmurs that it was an inside job, but the MP Police had almost closed the case when the ATS in then Congress-ruled Rajasthan made the first arrest in 2010 in the Ajmer blast case. MP Police sought custody of a Harshad Solanki and claimed that Joshi was murdered by his own men because he mistreated them.
The MP Police had already filed a chargesheet in the Dewas court when the NIA, under the UPA government, took over the case describing Joshi as the “prime mover/conspirator behind a series of terror blasts in 2007”, while linking his murder to the larger conspiracy. The trial was shifted to a special NIA court in Bhopal.
The NIA probed the case for more than three years, during which it arrested a different set of accused, barring Sadhvi Pragya Singh.
In August 2014, with the new dispensation at the Centre, the agency made a turnaround. Ruling out any larger conspiracy, it filed a supplementary chargesheet on August 19 and claimed that Joshi was murdered because he made sexual advances towards Pragya. IPC sections related to murder and conspiracy were invoked against Pragya and three others. The case was then transferred to Dewas Sessions Court from the special NIA court in Bhopal on September 2.
Since then the case has not progressed because arguments on framing the charges have not taken place.