NIA court quiz Pragya Singh Thakur, 2 others in Malegaon blast case

Mumbai: BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who had skipped proceedings on Thursday on grounds of ill health, appeared before a special NIA court along with two other accused in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

Thakur, an accused in the case, was asked some questions by NIA Judge Vinod Padlakar, who later directed all the three accused -Thakur, Samir Kulkarni, and Sudhakar Diwedi–to return to the court at 2:45 p.m. for signatures marking their presence as per the procedure.

At the court, she could be seen helped by two men to climb the stairs at the entrance.

During the course of hearing, Special NIA Judge Vinod Padlakar asked two questions from all the three accused present in the court.

“Do you know or has your lawyer told you about how many witnesses have been examined by the prosecution till now?” the judge asked.

Thakur replied, “I don’t know,” while Diwedi answered that so far 116 witnesses have been examined by the prosecution.

The court also asked, “From all the witnesses who have been examined until now, it has transpired that there was a blast on September 29, 2008, in which several people died. What do you have to say?”

Thakur and Diwedi said that they do not know about it while Kulkarni claimed that it is true.

On Thursday, the court issued an arrest warrant against a witness in the case who had signed the panchnama while the damage by the blasts was being ascertained. Since it was a bailable warrant, the witness has to pay Rs. 5,000 as a bail bond.

Thakur had on Tuesday, moved an exemption from appearance plea in connection with the case. She is likely to appear before the court later this week, her lawyer had said.

The court had on Monday directed Thakur and all other accused in the case to appear before it once a week.

Judge Padalkar, while asking Thakur to be present before the court, had referred to a recent Supreme Court order which said hearing in criminal cases against public representatives be expedited.

Besides the Bhopal MP, the other accused are Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Ajay Rahirkar, Sameer Kulkarni and Sudhakar Chaturvedi.

They have been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The charges include sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA and sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups) of the IPC.

The accused have also been charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act.

On September 29, 2018, six people were killed and a dozen others were injured when a bomb placed on a motorcycle exploded in Maharashtra’s Malegaon city.