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NIA to Seek Police Protection for 38 Prosecution Witnesses in 2008 Malegaon Blast Case

Bhopal BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and five others accused are facing trial under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Indian Penal Code on terror and conspiracy charges.

PTI

Updated:August 2, 2019, 4:49 PM IST
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NIA to Seek Police Protection for 38 Prosecution Witnesses in 2008 Malegaon Blast Case
File photo of Pragya Singh Thakur.
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Mumbai: The NIA on Friday told the Bombay High Court that it will be filing an application before a lower court seeking police protection for 38 "sensitive" prosecution witnesses in the September 2008 Malegaon bomb blast

Bhopal BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and five others are accused in the case.

They are facing trial under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code on terror and conspiracy charges.

The National Investigation Agency made its submission before a division bench of justices IA Mahanty and A M Badar hearing a petition filed by Purohit seeking non-truncated copies of the witness statements that are part of the charge sheet.

NIA counsel Sandesh Patil told the bench that out of the 475 witnesses, the statement of 186 are truncated.

"Out of these 186, 38 witnesses are sensitive witnesses. They need to be given protection and their evidence will have to be recorded in-camera," Patil said.

"We are ready to give the accused (Purohit) non- truncated statements of the remaining witnesses," he said.

He added that the agency will be filing an application before the special NIA court, conducting trial in the case, for protection cover for these 38 witnesses.

The bench then adjourned hearing on Purohit's plea for two weeks.

The NIA has also moved a special court seeking in-camera trial of the 2008 Malegaon blast case claiming that "unwarranted publicity" to the proceedings can damage "communal harmony".

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed an application before special court judge, V S Padalkar here on Thursday.

In the plea, the agency has submitted that the allegations against the accused are that they committed the offence to take revenge against "Muslim Jihadi activities" and "to create a rift between two communities".

"Keeping in view the observations made by the high court and considering the fact that this case has direct bearing on the communal harmony, national security and public order and the sensitive nature of the case, unwarranted publicity needs to be avoided, as it has a potential to damage communal harmony and eventually jeopardise the fairness of the trial," it said.

"It is necessary to conduct the trial of this case in-camera under the provision of the NIA Act and the UAPA [Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act]," the agency added.

Six people were killed and 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in the North Maharashtra town of Malegaon, about 200 km from here, on September 29, 2008.

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