Pragya denies knowledge of 2008 Malegaon blasts



Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Bhopal (Sadhvi) Pragya Singh Thakur denied having any knowledge of the 2008 Malegaon blasts -- in which she herself is among the prime accused -- as she appeared before a Special NIA Court here on Friday.

Appearing before the Special National Investigating Agency (NIA) Court, she told Special Judge V.S. Padalkar: "Mujhe jaankari nahi hai. (I don't have any knowledge)".

Sudhakar Dwivedi, another accused in the case, also gave a similar reply to the special court which is hearing the September 29, 2008 blasts near a mosque in Malegaon in Nashik district in which six persons were killed and another 100 were injured.

Thakur (49) made her appearance in the special court after skipping two earlier dates, including the last one on Thursday following which a stern directive was issued to her to be present at the court by 1 p.m. on Friday.

On Monday, the special court had dismissed her appeal seeking exemption from the court hearing this week since she had to complete various formalities after her recent election to the Lok Sabha from Bhopal, where she defeated veteran Congress leader Digvijay Singh.

Others accused in the same case were also present in the court on Friday and Special Judge Padalkar ordered them to attend the court proceedings at least once a week.

Accompanied by two of her aides who helped her walk to the courtroom, Thakur sat on a red velvet cloth on a bench and at one point when she was asked to sit on a chair, Thakur said she would stand leaning against a window.

The Special Judge said that so far the special court has examined 116 witnesses. However, Thakur denied having any knowledge about the number of witnesses produced so far.

Besides Thakur, others facing the trial in the case include Dwivedi and Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit.

Though the NIA had given a clean chit to Thakur, the Special NIA Court has declined to discharge her from the case.

Thakur and the other accused are being tried under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Explosives Act and Indian Penal Code, though the court had dropped the stringent charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

The NIA took over the case investigation from the Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) in April 2011. Besides Thakur, Purohit and Dwivedi, the other accused among the 14 people named in the chargesheet are Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Rakesh Dhawade, Pravin Takalki and Sudhakar Chaturvedi.

Four others -- Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Ajay Rahirkar and Jagdish Mhatre -- have been granted bail, while two others -- Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra -- are still absconding. IANS