Updated: December 28, 2017 2:01:30 am
A special court Wednesday dropped MCOCA against 12 accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. However, seven accused including Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit will face trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and sections including murder and criminal conspiracy. While three accused have been discharged, two will face charges under the Arms Act. Here are the profiles of the accused in the case with charges against them.
Pragya Singh Thakur: The first person to be arrested by the ATS in the case in October 2008, Thakur was not named as an accused by the NIA in its supplementary chargesheet filed in April 2016. The NIA had also not opposed her discharge stating that there was no case made out against her. While the ATS had claimed that her LML Freedom motorcycle was used by absconding accused Ramchandra Kalsangra for the blast, the NIA had recorded statements of witnesses who claimed that Kalsangra was in possession of the bike. The NIA also said other witnesses who had deposed against her, as claimed by the ATS, had given a different version exonerating her. The NIA court, however, said it was difficult to accept her submission regarding her lack of knowledge on the use of her motorcycle in the blast. She was granted bail by the High Court in April this year.
Lt Col Prasad Purohit:
The former military intelligence officer was arrested by the ATS in November 2008. The ATS had claimed that he had floated Abhinav Bharat in 2006 and collected funds for the organisation. In its chargesheet, the NIA claimed there were authorised intercepted conversations between him and accused Ramesh Upadhyay, which allegedly showed “post conduct” guilt and active participation in the crime. Purohit was granted bail by the Supreme Court in August.
Ramesh Upadhyay: The retired Army major was arrested in October 2008. The ATS had claimed that Upadhyay had in a meeting in Faridabad proposed and accepted the theory of accused Prasad Purohit for a separate constitution for ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The intercepted conversation between him and Purohit was also relied upon by the NIA to claim that there was sufficient evidence against him in the case.
Sameer Kulkarni :
The accused arrested in October 2008 was also, as per the ATS, involved in the Faridabad meeting where the formation of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ was discussed. A text message sent by Prasad Purohit to Kulkarni after the arrest of Pragya Singh Thakur, directing him to delete his numbers from his phone and further instructions to leave Bhopal, were claimed by the NIA to be evidence to show his complicity in the crime along with an alleged intercepted conversation.
Sudhakar Dwivedi: The man who has claimed that he was arrested in a case of mistaken identity as he is a Shankaracharya named Swami Amrutanand Devtirth from Kashmir was also arrested in 2008. Apart from being present at a meeting in Nashik with Prasad Purohit, the NIA claims, material retrieved from his laptop including audio and video recordings show his complicity in the offence.
Sudhakar Chaturvedi: The Uttar Pradesh resident was arrested in 2008 by the ATS. The ATS had claimed that Chaturvedi had participated in the meeting at Nashik and that traces of RDX used in the blasts were recovered from his house. The NIA chargesheet, however, said a witness had claimed that he had seen an ATS official in the house of Chaturvedi on November 3, 2008. The NIA claimed that this recovery indicated that the RDX traces might have been planted by the ATS. The NIA, however, claimed that there was enough other evidence to prosecute Chaturvedi.
Ajay Rahirkar: The Pune resident was arrested in 2008 and granted bail in 2011. Rahirkar was allegedly the treasurer of Abhinav Bharat and had participated in a meeting in Nashik. Rahirkar had allegedly collected funds and disbursed them to procure weapons on the directions of accused Prasad Purohit.
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