The Shiv Sena on Monday welcomed the acquittal of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and others in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, stating the ATS had 'falsely implicated' the Hindu outfits and that believing in the formation of 'Hindu Rashtra' does not amount to saffron terrorism.
"The ATS had carried out a bogus investigation and falsely implicated certain Hindu organisations for carrying out the Malegaon blasts," an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said.
"Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Lt Col Purohit and others who were implicated went through intense emotional and physical torture. These people can be believers of a Hindu Rashtra but that does not make them saffron terrorists," it said. The ruling alliance partner further said certain people, instead of eliminating terrorism fanned by Muslim extremists, with the help of Pakistan chose to create an air of saffron terror in the country.
"The previous Congress government at the Centre and the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra did not understand that by doing so we are only strengthening the hands of Pakistan. Whenever we asked Pakistan to hand over the terrorists taking refuge there, they asked for Col Purohit," it said.
Posing the question "Why would Hindus spread terror in their own country?", it said, "The UPA government for political gains had put pressure on the investigating agency and thereby indulged in deceit. This was a sin and the relevance of the people who committed that has ceased to exist."
In a U-turn, the NIA had on Friday dropped all charges against Sadhvi Thakur and five others in the Malegaon blast case while charges under the stringent MCOCA law were given up against all the other 10 accused including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit.
Seven people were killed in the blast when they were coming out of prayers during Ramzan on September 29, 2008. During investigation, "sufficient evidences were not found" against Pragya Singh Thakur and five others, the NIA had said, adding it has submitted in the charge sheet "that the prosecution against them is not maintainable".
The case was investigated initially by Joint Commissioner of Mumbai's ATS Hemant Karkare who was killed during the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Before the NIA took over the case in 2011, ATS had booked 16 people but filed charge sheets on January 20, 2009 and April 21, 2011 against 14 accused in a Mumbai court.