[The motorcycle used in the 2008 Malegaon blast was traced to Sadvhi Pragya SIngh Thakur and led to her arrest. (ummid.com photo)]
Mumbai: Over ten years after a bomb blast in Malegaon in North Maharashtra killed six and injured more than 100, an NIA Special Court Tuesday framed charges against the seven accused, including Army officer Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.
Among those killed in the terrorist attack was a 6-year-old minor girl Farheen. Farheen was out to buy food when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle parked at Bhikku Chowk had exploded. Police traced Sadhvi Pragya Singh based on the registration number of the motorcycle.
The blast took place after Traweeh prayers in the month of Ramadan and just two days before Eid al Fitr. The terror site was meters away from ladies fashion market where a large number of women and children were busy in Eid shopping on the fateful night.
The court posted the case on November 2 to begin the trial. Besides, Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya, the other accused are Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni.
The accused will now face trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for conspiring and abetting a terror act, and other charges, including murder and criminal conspiracy. All seven accused, currently out on bail, pleaded not guilty.
The court said that the seven accused, along with absconding accused Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, hatched a criminal conspiracy between January and October 2008 to spread activities of the organisation, Abinav Bharat, and to strike terror and create a communal rift.
The court said the absconding accused had on September 29, 2008, fitted an explosive device on the motorcycle and caused the blast.
The 2008 Malegaon blast was the first case where a "Hindu terror group" was named. The case was first investigated by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) under the late Hemant Karkare. The trail led first to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur after a golden LML Freedom bike parked outside the blast site was found to have been allegedly registered under her name. Her arrest was followed by the arrest of Colonel Purohit, who was alleged to have provided the RDX for the blasts, and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay.
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