2008 Malegaon blast: NIA records ATS officer's statement

NIA has recorded the statement of a suspended ATS officer who made a sensational claim before a court that two absconding accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case were dead.

The NIA had recently summoned former senior inspector Mehmood Mujawar of ATS in Mumbai and recorded his statement, official sources said. The sources said he had been asked to provide evidence about his claims made before the Solapur court that Ramchandra Kalsangre and Sandeep Dange are "no more".

Mujawar was suspended after a case under Arms Act and criminal intimidation was filed against him. "Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra are in fact no more but are shown alive in Malegaon bomb blast case by high-ranking police officers," Mujawar had claimed in the court last December.

The sources said Mujawar's claims would be ascertained and verified independently by the NIA officers as both the accused are wanted in connection with the Malegaon case and the agency has announced a cash reward also for any information on their whereabouts.

They said a final decision on the veracity of the claims made will be taken after ascertaining these and it would be informed to the special NIA court.

A bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded in Malegaon on September 29, 2008, killing seven people and injuring around 100.

According to the investigating agencies, the blast was carried out by right-wing extremists and 11 people including Lt Col Prasad Purohit and sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur are at present in jail.

The state ATS, which was initially probing the case, had charged the accused under various sections of the stringent MCOCA and UAPA, Indian Penal Code, Indian Explosives Act and the Arms Act. However, when the case was handed over to the NIA, the agency filed a supplementary charge sheet by which charges under MCOCA were dropped as there wasn’t sufficient material.

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