ATS files charge sheet against Malegaon blast accused


Mumbai : Mumbai Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Tuesday filed the charge sheet in the Sep 29, 2008 Malegaon blast case before the Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) Court Judge Y.D. Shinde here.

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The ATS lodged the charge sheet running into more than 4,250 pages and the accused face charges under various sections of the stringent MCOCA and the Arms and Explosives Act.

The prosecution and all the defence lawyers argued at length over whether the provisions of the stringent MCOCA were applicable to the accused.

Ganesh Sovani, one of the defence lawyers, told IANS that the prosecution’s contentions on invoking the MCOCA against the accused were flawed and some points raised were as an “afterthought”.

Special Judge Shinde is expected to deliver his ruling in the matter – whether the provisions of MCOCA can be applied to the accused or not – at the next hearing scheduled Wednesday.

The judicial custody of the 11 main accused in the case, including Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur and Lt. Col. Prasad S. Purohit, ended Tuesday.

The other nine accused in the case are: Rakesh Dhawade, Swami Amritanand alias Dayanand Pandey, former armyman Ramesh Upadhyay, and Jagdish Mhatre, Ajay Rahirkar, Shyamlal Bhanwarlal Sahu, Shivnarain Singh Kalsangra, Samir Kulkarni and Sudhakar Chaturvedi.

Simultaneously, five of the accused – Sadhvi Pragnya, Purohit, Rahirkar, Kalsangra and Sahu – have filed bail applications which shall now come up for hearing Jan 30.

The charge sheet preparation started in the shadow of the death of former Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare who had been directing the investigations into the Malegaon case. He was killed in the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks.

Just five days before his death, the ATS had charged the Malegaon accused under the MCOCA.

On the evening of Sep 29, 2008, a bomb planted on a scooter went off in the busy market area of Malegaon, killing six and injuring 10.

The ATS investigations into the case revealed the involvement of a serving army officer, a retired army officer, and activists of a right-wing Hindu extremist organisation.

The scooter’s origins and ownership were traced to the Sadhvi, who was picked up from Surat and later arrested on Oct 23 last year. Later, other accused were arrested from different parts of the country.