The NIA is likely to file its charge sheet in the 2008 Malegaon bombings by alleged Hindu terror outfit Abhinav Bharat this month, the anti-terror probe agency said; days after the Supreme Court asked it to complete the investigation at the earliest.
NIA Director General Sharad Kumar said the probe in the case has been completed and a charge sheet would be filed before the competent court in Mumbai “most probably within this month”.
He denied there was any deliberate delay in submitting the charge sheet and said several accused arrested by Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad had filed cases in the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court.
“Once the courts cleared all the litigations, we expedited our process of filing the charge sheet in the case,” said Kumar.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) has listed 14 persons including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit as accused in the blasts in Malegaon town in Nashik district of Maharashtra on September 29, 2008 in which seven people were killed when two bombs planted on a motorcycle exploded.
The probe was initially conducted by the Maharashtra ATS and later handed over to the NIA.
Besides Purohit, Pragya Singh Thakur, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Ramesh Upadhya, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay, Rakesh Dhawade, Jagdish Mhatre, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Pravin Takalki have been arrested.
Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, who are accused in 2007 Samjhuata train blast also, have been named as absconders in this case.
Malegaon 2008 blasts changed the course of many probes including the one in Samjhauta train blast case in which 68 people had been killed. It was for the first time that the role of a Hindu right wing group had come to light in a terror attack. The case was investigated initially by Joint Commissioner of Mumbai’s ATS Hemant Karkare who was killed during the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Before the NIA took over the case in 2011, Maharashtra ATS had booked 16 people but filed charge sheets on January 20, 2009 and April 21, 2011 against 14 accused in a Mumbai court.
Purohit and Pragya had moved several applications before Bombay High Court and Supreme Court challenging the charge sheet and applicability of stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case.
The accused have denied any involvement in the twin blasts that rocked Malegaon on September 29, 2008 that left seven dead and several wounded. They have also refuted being co-conspirators in any organised crime syndicate.