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Sadhvi Pragya gets bail, Col Purohit stays in jail in Malegaon case

The Bombay High Court has granted bail to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, one of the accused of plotting the September 2008 blasts in Maharashtra’s Malegaon, in which seven people were killed. The court however has denied bail to the other Col Shrikant Purohit. The two have been in jail for the last nine years, though Sadhvi Pragya was moved to a Bhopal hospital recently for medical treatment.

Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya had moved the High Court after a trial court rejected their bail applications last year.

On September 29, 2008, two bombs fitted on a motorcycle detonated in Malegaon, around 270 km from Mumbai, killing seven people and injuring over 100. Sadhvi Pragya was arrested in October that year and Col Purohit in November.

The National Investigation Agency, which handles terror cases, said in its latest chargesheet filed in May last year that the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad’s case against Sadhvi Pragya was made using retracted confessions, which cannot be produced in court as evidence and so no case is made out against her in the Malegaon blasts.

She was however denied bail by the Mumbai special court, which questioned the NIA dropping charges against her.

Lt Col Purohit is accused of setting up a pro-Hindu group the Abhinav Bharat, which investigators allege planned and executed the Malegaon blasts. The NIA chargesheet says the officer launched Abhinav Bharat and also flouted service rules and held meetings where he made provocative speeches.

The lawyers of Col Purohit have argued that the statements of the witnesses against the Army officer are fabricated. They have also said that the allegation that RDX was seized from the Colonel is questionable and that due process has not been followed in prosecuting him as an officer of the Indian Army.

Lt Col Purohit has told court that he was assigned by military intelligence to infiltrate various terror organisations and that his superiors were constantly in the loop about his actions and associations with Abhinav Bharat.

In April last year, he had written to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, claiming he had been falsely implicated in the case.  “I have been robbed of honour, dignity and rank and punished for serving the nation,” the letter read.

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