Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, failed to appear before a court in Mumbai on Thursday – for the second time this week, PTI reported. Her lawyer told the court that she is suffering from high blood pressure and is not in a condition to travel from Bhopal to Mumbai.
As the hearing commenced, lawyer Prashant Magoo submitted an application before National Investigation Agency Judge VS Padalkar seeking exemption from her appearance in the court. The court granted an exemption, but directed Thakur to be present on Friday or “face consequences”.
Thakur’s close aide Upma said that the BJP MP was hospitalised for a stomach ailment in Bhopal on Wednesday night and discharged early on Thursday. “She was administered injectable medicines. She was discharged from the hospital this morning and is taking part in a programme on request of [party] workers, but will return to the hospital immediately afterwards as she is not well,” PTI quoted Upma as saying.
Meanwhile, another accused, Sudhakar Dwivedi, also sought exemption from appearance claiming that he has to attend a religious function in Jammu and Kashmir. He also said he would not be able to get a flight or a train ticket to Mumbai before June 30 as it is “holiday season”.
“Since the beginning of the trial, the accused [Dwivedi] has been seeking exemption on some ground or the other,” the court said, while granting him exemption for the day. “It seems he is hell-bent to remain absent by engaging in some religious functions. Since he is facing the trial, it is his duty to be present in the court.”
“It is not the business of the court [to check] that the accused is getting ticket for travel or not. The grounds in the application are not reasonable and the accused needs to be present,” the court further said.
On Monday, a special National Investigation Agency court rejected Thakur’s appeal for exemption from appearance in court this week. However, on Tuesday, she had failed to appear before the court despite the rejection.
The BJP parliamentarian from Bhopal had said in her application on Monday that she needed to complete formalities related to her election to Parliament. The Monsoon Session of Parliament will begin on June 17. But special NIA Judge VS Padalkar rejected the application, saying Thakur’s presence was necessary in the case. The judge said the Supreme Court had already issued orders to expedite the case.
On May 17, the trial court had ordered all the accused, including Thakur, to be present before it once a week. However, on May 21, it granted Thakur and two others exemption from appearance. The BJP leader had urged the court to exempt her from appearing in court as the results of the Lok Sabha elections were set to be declared two days later.
Malegaon blasts case
On September 29, 2008, at least six people died in two blasts in Maharashtra’s Malegaon city. Radical Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat is suspected of carrying out the attacks. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad had filed a chargesheet against 14 right-wing extremists in the case.
The National Investigation Agency has submitted a list of 286 witnesses – including doctors, police officers and forensic experts – and more than 200 documents. Apart from Thakur and Dwivedi, the other accused are Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit, Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar and Sudhakar Chaturvedi. On October 30, the court charged the seven with terror conspiracy, murder and other related offences. They have pleaded not guilty.
The BJP gave a Lok Sabha ticket to Thakur from Bhopal, against Congress leader Digvijaya Singh because he reportedly coined the terms “Hindu terror” and “saffron terror”.