NEW DELHI: In a major U-turn, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing the 2008 Malegaon blast case, dropped the names of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five others as ‘accused’ in its chargesheet filed before a Mumbai Special Court on Friday.
Apart from Pragya, accused persons Shiv Narayan Kalsangra, Shyam Bhavarlal Sahu, Praveen Takkalki, Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh Choudhary have been given a clean chit.
“During investigation, sufficient evidence has not been found against mentioned persons (Sadhvi and five others) and NIA has submitted in the final report that the prosecution against them is not maintainable,” said the NIA chargesheet.
The probe agency has also struck down stringent charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against 10 other accused persons, including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, saying the probe could not establish offence under the Act in the case.
However, the NIA while recommending their prosecution, charged them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
“During the course of investigation, it has been established that no offence under MCOC Act is attracted in the instant case. In furtherance of same, the confessional statements recorded under provisions of MCOC Act by ATS Mumbai have not been relied upon by the NIA in submitting final report,” said the chargesheet.
Though the NIA’s decision to drop the charges against Pragya paves the way for her early release from prison, the move triggered a political storm with the Congress accusing the Centre of protecting terror accused having links with Right wingers.
The BJP said the UPA had earlier pressured agencies for its own benefit and coined another term to refer to terrorism as ‘Hindu terrorism’. ● More on P5