A special National Investigation Agency court in Maharashtra on Tuesday charged all seven accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case with terror conspiracy, murder and related offences, reported ANI.
The court also rejected the plea of one accused, Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit’s, to defer the framing of charges, reported ANI. It said the charges were ready and that they would be framed as scheduled on Tuesday. Purohit’s lawyer had filed the application seeking adjournment of the framing of charges as he was set to appeal in the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court’s order refusing to stay the framing of charges on Tuesday.
On October 20, the NIA court had rejected Purohit’s plea to not be prosecuted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He will be tried under the law along with accused Pragya Singh Thakur. Other accused in the case are retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi and Sudhakar Chaturvedi, according to The Indian Express.
Thakur claimed the National Investigation Agency had given her a “clean chit” in the case but had then framed charges against her, according to ANI. “This was a conspiracy by Congress but I am confident that I’ll come out innocent as the truth always wins,” ANI quoted her as saying.
Purohit is one of the main accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case and has sought an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team. He had also moved the Supreme Court seeking an investigation into his alleged abduction and torture by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2008. The plea was rejected in September.
Purohit, who is suspected to have links to radical Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat, was arrested in 2008 for allegedly masterminding the blasts on September 29 that year that killed six people and injured several more. He will be tried under Section 18 (conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court in April allowed Purohit to challenge the framing of charges. Purohit spent nine years in jail before the Supreme Court granted him conditional bail in August 2017.