Fourteen years after a blast in Maharashtra’s Malegaon town claimed six lives and injured more than 100 people, the trial in the case is still going on before a special NIA court here and more than witnesses are yet to be examined while 26 have turned hostile.
Seven persons, including BJP MP Prgaya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit, are facing trial in the case, which is being probed by the National Investigation Agency, and have been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
All the accused are currently out on bail. As per the NIA, there were nearly 450 witnesses sought to be examined in the case.
The special court has examined 272 witnesses of whom 26 have turned hostile. As per information available, more than 100 witnesses are yet to be examined.
In 2015, the Supreme Court had directed for the trial to be concluded expeditiously. Later, one of the accused the case, Sameer Kulkarni, filed a petition in the Bombay High Court claiming that despite the apex court order, the trial was not being conducted expeditiously.
The HC earlier this year sought periodical reports from the special court on the status of the trial. The special court, presiding over the case, has examined over 270 witnesses of which 26 have turned hostile.
On September 29, 2008, six people were killed and more than 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a communally sensitive town in Maharashtra’s Nashik district. According to the Maharashtra Police who conducted an initial probe into the case, the motorbike was registered in Thakur’s name which led to her arrest.
The case was later handed over to the NIA. Besides Thakur and Purohit, the others facing trial in the case are Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni.
The accused have been charged under Sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act) of the UAPA and under Sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153 (a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups) of the Indian Penal Code. If convicted under these sections, the maximum punishment can be life imprisonment or death.