Nearly nine years after a manuscript written by one of the accused, Rakesh Dhawade, in the Malegaon 2008 blast case went missing, officials of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) are facing an inquiry. On Tuesday, five of the ATS officials were present before the special court. Three of them filed affidavits before the court, stating their roles in the events leading up to the “loss” of the book.
According to an application filed by Dhawade last year, he wrote a book on traditional arms in 2009 while he was in judicial custody. He had sought court permission to publish it. The ATS had said that it will check the book for any objectionable content before giving it a go-ahead for publishing. The book was handed over to the then ACP of the ATS, Mohan Kulkarni.
According to the affidavit filed by the ATS officials in court, Kulkarni had perused the book and cleared it for publishing. The three, however, contradict each other on the turn of the events thereafter.
According to the officials, during the interim period in 2009, the case was shifted to a local court in Nashik as the charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against the accused were dropped by then. The manuscript was then sent to the Nashik court with a correspondence to the assistant government pleader (AGP) there.
The court, however, said that the go-ahead for the book did not relate to the case before it, it would not decide about it. The location of the book since then, however, is not known.
Two of the three officials blamed the third official, claiming that he was in-charge of the depositing the book. The third official, however, also denied responsibility. The special court in Mumbai had earlier directed an inquiry into this. The official conducting the inquiry was asked by the court on the investigation so far.
The court asked him if he had taken Kulkarni’s statement and submitted the station diary entry, inward and outward registry entry of the concerned police station and AGP office.
The court directed the official to record the statement of the AGP, who has so far only responded to the inquiry through a letter. “These directions are necessary to find out a handwritten script of accused number 7 (Dhawade), while he was in judicial custody,” the court said.
Special Judge VS Padalkar, who has directed an inquiry into the missing manuscript, told the investigating officer, to collect documentary evidence from the ATS office in Nashik of November 15, 2009, when the book was sent there. The court will hear the case again this week.
In December last year, Dhawade was discharged of all charges in the case, apart from the Arms Act, after he spent nearly nine years in jail. He is currently out on bail and his case will be heard before a local court in Pune.
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