The National Investigation Agency on Friday dropped all charges against Pragya Thakur and five others in the Malegaon blasts case, in which seven people had died in twin blasts on September 29, 2008, after prayers during the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan.
Charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act have also been dropped against all the other ten accused, including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, an army officer.
The blasts were blamed on Hindu right wing groups.
The NIA said “sufficient evidences have not been found” against Pragya Singh Thakur and five others.
Lt Col Purohit and nine others will now be tried for charges including murder and conspiracy under the provisions of an anti-terror law, the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and Explosives Substance Act.
The Malegaon blasts were initially investigated by Hemant Karkare, the joint commissioner of Mumbai’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS). Karkare died in November that year, in the attack on Mumbai by terrorists based in Pakistan.
The NIA, created as a national counter-terrorism outfit on December 31, 2008, took over the case in 2011. By then, the ATS had booked 16 people and filed several charge sheets.
Purohit and Pragya had moved several applications before Bombay High Court and Supreme Court challenging the charge sheet and applicability of the MCOCA in the case.
The NIA said Friday no offence is attracted in this case under the MCOCA, in which any statement given before an officer of the level of superintendent of police is admissible as evidence.
Sharad Kumar, the Director General of the NIA, said there was no dilution in the case, although the NIA had earlier opposed the bail plea of Sadhvi and the others even in the Supreme Court.
“Till our investigation was not complete, we had to go by the probe done by the ATS. Now that we have completed the investigations, we have submitted our final report (chargesheet),” Sharad Kumar said.
Public prosecutor Geeta Godambe submitted the chargesheet before Special Judge S.D. Tekale here.
Avinash Rasal, special public prosecutor in the case, said he was not informed about the filing of the charge sheet (by the NIA). “I am hurt and I may resign from the case,” Rasal said.
The Congress attacked the NIA’s decision to drop charges against Praygya Yadav and five others besides diluting the case against the army officer and nine other accused.
It said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was shielding activists of Hindu right-wing bodies such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh who are involved in terror acts.
Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said “as I had predicted BJP and RSS have started the process of saving the Sangh Activists involved in Terror Cases.”
”Was the DG of NIA given extension for this?” he asked.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju dismissed the allegation.
He said the government allows its investigation agencies to work independently.