Malegaon case: Pragya skips court date for 2nd time this month

Mumbai: BJP’s Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, failed to appear before a special NIA court here on Saturday for the second time this month.

Thakur’s lawyer said that she was admitted to a hospital in Delhi on Friday, due to which she could not make it to the court.

While five accused remained present in the court, judge P R Sitre expressed displeasure over the absence of two others. The court then directed all the seven accused to appear before it on January 4.

“Thakur has been undergoing treatment at AIIMS Delhi since April. She had gone there for a check-up and had to be admitted there on Friday on the advice of doctors following her medical reports,” her lawyer J P Mishra said.

Besides Thakur, another accused Sudhakar Chaturvedi did not appear in court, citing personal reasons.

As the regular functioning of the court resumed last month after the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the court had directed all the seven accused in the case to remain present before it on December 3. However, most of the accused, including Thakur, skipped the court that day, citing the pandemic situation.

The court then asked them to appear before it on December 19.

As per the directions, five other accused- Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahikar and Sudhakar Dwiwedi- appeared before it on Saturday.

Thakur had appeared before the court in June last year after it ordered the seven accused to remain present once a week. However, she had sought exemption from appearance on various occasions since then.

Six people were killed and over 100 others injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from Mumbai in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

The court had framed terror charges against Purohit, Thakur and five other accused in October 2018.

The accused in the case have been charged under Sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

They have also been charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups), and relevant provisions of the Explosive Substances Act.