2008 Malegaon blasts: Videos, transcripts of conspiracy meets vanish into thin air
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur
Eight years after the Anti-Terrorism Squad claimed it had videos and transcripts to prove that main accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was part of the meetings in which the Malegaon 2008 blast was planned, both the ATS and the National Investigating Agency (NIA) told the Bombay High Court that they had no idea where these videos were. The high court was hearing a bail application from Sadhvi Pragya, who was charged for allegedly planning the blast and providing the motorcycle that was used to plant the bomb.
The ATS chargesheet had clearly mentioned that there were transcripts of conspiracy meetings held in Bhopal, Faridabad, Dharmashala, Indore, Ujjain and Mahakaleshwar and that the said meetings were attended by Sadhvi.
However, yesterday, the ATS and NIA told the HC that there was just one video of the Bhopal meeting on April 11, 2008. However, this video merely shows the accused are seen arriving for the meeting, and does not have details of what happened during the meeting. ATS counsel Jayesh Yagnik also told the court that he was not sure whether Sadhvi Pragya is in this video clip.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, representing the NIA, also said that although the ATS chargesheet mentioned transcripts, they had only submitted a video recording of Bhopal in the lower court.
Last May, the NIA filed a supplementary chargesheet that dropped charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Sadhvi Pragya and five others. A month later, in June 2016, her bail plea was denied by the NIA court. She then approached the HC with a fresh petition, stating that the NIA court considered only the ATS chargesheet, and not the NIA chargesheet.
Victim is sceptical
The court also heard arguments from Nisar Bilal, a businessman injured in the blast, who was represented by BA Desai. Desai argued that the NIA chargesheet was politically motivated. Desai pointed out to the court that if the videos and transcripts were not available, then how did the chargesheet pass muster for so many years in several courts?
HC seeks transcripts
After hearing these arguments, Justices Ranjit More and Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi called for all the evidence submitted to the lower court by the ATS. The court also summoned the ATS investigating officer but he was not available, and the ATS' legal officer Sunil Mohite could not give any satisfactory answers to the court. "You have mentioned it in your chargesheet so you ATS might have submitted it to the lower court," said Justice More, referring to the transcripts.