After a shocking disclosure, Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian, who appeared for the National Investigating Agency in the 2008 Malegaon blast case involving Hindu extremists, has said that the agency told her to ‘go soft’ in the case after the new government took over at the Centre. Some NIA officer approached her immediately after the change of government and told her in person to go soft. On June 12, he approached her for the second time and said she would no longer be appearing in the case. The Malegaon 2008 blast case was the first case in which Hindu extremists, including Lt. Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur were chargesheeted in 2009 by the ATS. The status of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), handling the Malegaon blasts and other Hindu-terror cases, has taken a serious thumping. The NIA, of course, has disapproved the claims saying, there was no question of shielding the accused, and that Salian’s impending transfer or denotification from the case is part of an official procedure.
Pointing to NIA’s tardy approach, Ms. Salian said after the agency took over the case from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2011, three more accused were arrested in addition to 12 accused arrested previously. However, all the three accused were granted bail by the court, because the NIA did not file a chargesheet against them, at a given specific time. Till date, whatever paper works are there that was done by the ATS and NIA has never submitted a single paper in court.
The 2007 murder case of former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak Sunil Joshi was planned a fortnight before by Lokesh Sharma and Rajendra Chaudhary in connivance with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, states the supplementary chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Elaborating the role of Pragya, the chargesheet says that on the day of the murder, “Pragya was present at Koti Chandi Yagya Dussehra ground at Indore.” She stayed at Indore from December 25, 2007 to January 5, 2008. It has also been alleged by NIA in the chargesheet that she had held captive Anandraj Kataria, an associate of Joshi, in a flat in Indore for 10 days, after the murder. Kataria was charged by MP police for the murder of Joshi but NIA did not name him. A day after the murder, on Dec 30, 2007, “Pragya called Kataria to a flat and later took him to the residence of late Laxman Singh Gaur. He was held captive since Pragya apprehended that Kataria was immature and if questioned by police he may reveal the facts about the earlier criminal act carried out by late Sunil Joshi and herself, as Kataria was closely associated with Joshi and her as well,” the chargesheet was filed before a court in August 2011.
The primary motive behind the murder of Joshi according to chargesheet appears to be sexual advances made by Joshi against Pragya, which did not go down well with Lokesh and Rajender who treated Pragya as sister. Joshi an accused in Samjhauta and Malegaon blasts was also considered close to RSS leader Indresh but so far the agency have not found any direct link of RSS leader with the blast cases.
The chargesheet also states that “Pragya after the murder of Joshi had met Lokesh and Rajender at the flat where Kataria was held captive and congratulated the two for the task.” It further says, “Witnesses statements establish that at MGH hospital, Dewas (where Joshi was admitted after being shot), she (Pragya) was handed over a mobile phone of Sunil Joshi which was picked up from the crime scene by Ramcharan Patel,” one of Joshi’s associates.
NIA also said Pragya visited the house of Joshi on the night of the murder and collected a briefcase. This briefcase is believed to have contained explosive and bomb making material and it was later handed over to Ramji Kalsangra, wanted in connection with Malegaon, Samjhauta, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Dargah blasts.
According to the statement of Vasudev Parmar, the planning to kill Joshi started a fortnight before the actual incident. Parmar told NIA that Rajender had met him and took the mobile number and address of Joshi in Dewas around December 15, 2007.
Four of the 12 chargesheeted accused; Shyam Sahu, Jagdish Mhatre, Shiv Narayan, Gopal Singh Kalsanghra and Ajay Rahirkar have been granted bail. The bails pleas of the rest of the accused have been rejected. Purohit was the only one to challenge the rejection of his bail in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in April expressed prima facie doubts about charging Malegaon blasts accused Sadhvi Pragya and Purohit under the draconian Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court.
The 2006 Malegaon bombings were a series of bomb blasts that took place on 8 September 2006 in Malegaon, a town in the Nashik district. The blasts were initially blamed on Pakistan but a chargesheet filed in 2013 put the blame on India based Hindu Radicals. The explosions – which resulted in at least 37 fatalities and 125 injuries – took place in a Muslim cemetery, adjacent to a mosque, at around 13:15 local time after Friday prayers on the Shab e Bara’at holy day of 15th Shabaan, eight month of Islamic Calender. Most of the blast victims were Muslim pilgrims. Security forces spoke of “two bombs attached to bicycles,” but other reports indicated that three devices had exploded. A stampede ensued after the devices exploded. A curfew was imposed in the town and state paramilitaries were deployed in sensitive areas to prevent unrest.
Meanwhile, Pragya Singh Thakur, a Hindu activist was arrested for her involvement in Malegaon blast. She became an activist of Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of RSS and then an ABVP activist from 1993 to 2002. Seemingly, she was involved in the murder of RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi in December 2007 in Dewas. Thakur, who has been in custody of Bhopal police since 2011, is suffering from multiple ailments and was undergoing treatment at Pandit Khushilal Ayurveda Hospital. She was arrested by Maharashtra police in connection with Malegaon blasts in 2008. She was later arrested by MP police in February 2011 for her alleged role in Sunil Joshi’s murder.
However, there is no question of going ‘soft’ on the case because the case is already going slow. There is too much of politics over Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. Surprisingly, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar who has demanded ban on various Hindu organizations terming them #SaffronTerrorist, is silent now.