2008 Malegaon blasts: Lt Col Purohit key conspirator, Sadhvi innocent, Karkare's probe flawed, says NIA

NIA alleged that "in a secret meeting held at Faridabad, Purohoit proposed for a separate Constitution for Hindu rashtra with separate saffron flag.

2008 Malegaon blasts: Lt Col Purohit key conspirator, Sadhvi innocent, Karkare's probe flawed, says NIA

Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday gave a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five others who have been languishing in prison in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case and held the view that the probe conducted by the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare into the incident was flawed.

In its chargesheet filed before a special court in the 2008 blasts case on Friday, NIA noted that ample evidence was not found against Sadhvi and five others.

The investigative agency also dropped the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) slapped against them.

The NIA said, "that the prosecution against them is not maintainable".

Karkare was the joint commissioner of ATS and had led the probe initially in 2008. Unfortunately, he was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

ATS had booked 16 people after its investigation and later on filed chargesheets against 14 accused in a Mumbai court in 2009 and 2011.

Both Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya had moved several applications before the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court challenging the chargesheet and the applicability of the stringent MCOCA in the case.

In 2011, NIA took over the case.

Besides Sadhvi, five others against whom charges have been dropped by NIA include Shiv Narayan Kalsangra, Shyam Bhavarlal Sahu, Praveen Takkalki, Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh Choudhury.

The agency observed that no offence is attracted under MCOCA in the case.

"In furtherance of same, the confessional statements recorded under provisions of MCOCA by ATS Mumbai have not been relied up on by the NIA in submitting the present final report," the agency said in its chargesheet.

Lt Col Purohit and nine others will now be tried for charges, including murder and conspiracy under the provisions of anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, IPC, Arms Act and Explosives Substance Act.

The NIA said that Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit organised several meetings with other accused and collected money for procuring weapons and explosives for their unlawful activities.

"He is one of the key members of criminal conspiracy. Accused Purohit had floated Abhinav Bharat organisation in 2006 in spite of being a serving Commissioned officer of armed forces of India which is against the service rules," the NIA said in its supplementary charge sheet.

The NIA alleged that on January 25-26 "in a secret meeting held at Faridabad, Purohoit proposed for a separate Constitution for Hindu rashtra with separate saffron flag.

"He read over the Constitution of Abhinav Bharat which he had prepared, discussed about the formation of central Hindu government (Aryawrat) against the Indian government and put forth the idea of forming this government in exile in Israel and Thailand," the NIA said.

Purohit also discussed about taking revenge for the "atrocities" committed by the Muslims on Hindus.

About the RDX recovered from Purhoit's residence, the NIA quoted a Court of Inquiry report of the Army which had claimed that the explosives were planted at his residence by ATS officials who had entered his residence forcibly.

They said the Army has also given a "breakup" of about 70 kg of RDX, suspected to have been proposed to be used for the blasts.

The army has accounted for it by way of controlled destruction or handing over to Jammu and Kashmir Police, the NIA said.

The NIA also alleged that he along with other accused had collected huge funds for the Abhinav Bharat organisation and directed to disburse it to procure weapons and explosives for their unlawful activities.

On Sadhvi's role, the NIA said in its charge sheet that it does not have sufficient evidence against her and five others.

Analysing the evidence against six accused persons, the NIA said that motorcycle used in the blast was used by accused Sadhvi.

However, the agency said that evidence recorded by ATS and reassessed by NIA shows those four witnesses have all stated that absconding accused Ramchandra Kalsangra was in possession of the motorcycle and using it.

"The register of garage also shows that Kalsangra was in possession of the bike," the NIA said.

Purohit had also participated in the meeting of Abhinav Bharat which was held on September 15/16 2008 at Bhosla Military School, Nashik in which accused Ramesh Upadhayay was elected as working president of Abhinav Bharat.

"In this meeting it was decided that the power to take back the weapons acquired for Abhinav Bharat from accused Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi would vest with Upadhayay," the NIA said.

It alleged that Purohit collected huge amount of funds for himself and for this Abhinav Bharat organisation out of which Rs 2.5 lakhs were paid to one builder in Nashik through accused Ajay Rahirkar for house booked for himself.

During investigation, the FSL report was received with regard to the data retrieved from the laptop of accused Dwivedi.

The voice samples of accused Purohit, Dwivedi, Upadhayay are also available, which are positive as per FSL.

"The authorised intercepted conversation between Purohit and Upadhayay and others reveal that they were also in the process of creating their defence in case," the NIA said, adding Purohit had even suggested to Upadhyay to procure another SIM for himself.

He even alerted him by saying that they should be very meticulous thereafter. "The post conduct of the accused persons shows the guilt in their minds and their active participation in the crime", NIA said in its document.

On October 24, 2008, after the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Purohit had messaged accused Sameer Kulkarni saying that ATS has entered his house in Pune and also directed him (Kulkarni) to delete numbers from telephone and to leave for Bhopal immediately.

"This act of the accused confirms his complicity in the present crime," NIA said.

The agency said that, "notwithstanding the shortcoming in the evidence, at this stage there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Purohit under various statutes and sections of law and the value of the evidence placed on record shall be assessed at the trial stage."

In the September 29, 2008 Malegaon blasts, seven were killed and some 80 others were injured. This was the first major case involving right-wing Hindu extremists.

(With PTI inputs)