In a complete U-turn, the NIA on Friday had diluted the role of Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit in the Malegaon blasts case. However, Purohit's role continues to be under a cloud, particularly on the issue of whether he kept authorities in the loop about his infiltration in the Abhinav Bharat.
The chargesheet cites a letter in which the Army claimed that Purohit never kept the authorities in the loop about his infiltration in the organisation. While Purohit remains an accused in the case, the NIA has dropped charges under the stringent MCOCA against him.
The Indian Express reported that the confidential letter written by the Deputy Directorate General of Military Intelligence in 2011 to the then Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria stated that there was "no input available" on official communication by Purohit to his superiors on terrorism-related activities, or about meetings of the organisation.
However the report quotes sources close to Purohit that the letter was selectively chosen by the UPA government to book Purohit in the case. They also claim that the letter won't stand as evidence against Purohit.
Defending his actions in the Malegaon blasts, Purohit had in an interview to Outlook in 2012 had said that that he had infiltrated Abhinav Bharat and had kept his bosses in the loop.
Purohit had said that had "done by job properly" and that he had kept his bosses in the loop. "Those who need to know, know the truth," he was quoted as saying.
Seven people were killed in twin blasts when people were coming out of prayers during Ramzan on 29 September 2008.
There have been a lot of twists and turns in the probe into the Malegaon blasts, which has seen both Muslim and Hindu extremists having been accused of the crime.
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, ATS had booked 16 people but filed chargesheets on 20 January 2009 and 21 April 2011 against 14 accused in a Mumbai court.
Purohit and Pragya had moved several applications before the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court challenging the chargesheet and applicability of stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case.
Shiv Narayan Kalsangra, Shyam Bhavarlal Sahu, Praveen Takkalki, Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh Choudhury are the other five accused against whom charges have been dropped, besides Sadhvi.
The agency also said during investigation that it has been established that no offence is attracted in this case under the Maharashtra Control of Crimes Act (MCOCA), in which any statement given before a SP level officer is admissible as an evidence.
"In furtherance of same, the confessional statements recorded under provisions of MCOC Act by ATS Mumbai have not been relied upon by the NIA in submitting the present Final report," the agency said in its chargesheet.
Lt Col Purohit and nine others will now be tried for charges including murder and conspiracy under the provisions of anti-terror law UAPA, IPC, Arms Act and Explosives Substance Act.
With inputs from PTI
Published Date: May 16, 2016 20:22 PM | Updated Date: May 16, 2016 20:22 PM