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Col Purohit granted bail in Malegaon case. Here's looking back at 2008

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 21 August 2017, 14:55 IST
The scene of the blast site is pictured in Malegaon, some 175 miles (280 kilometres) northeast of India's financial hub Mumbai on 30 September 2008. (AFP Photo/ STR)

It took Colonel Purohit nine years to get bail in the Malegaon blasts case. The Supreme Court granted Purohit, one of the 14 accused in the 2008 blasts, bail on 21 August. He is the second accused, after Sadhvi Pragya, to get bail in this case.

And as the country debates about the right and the wrong in this issue, here's a look back at what happened in September 2008.

It was on a fateful day in September 2008 that Malegaon city in Maharashtra was shocked by the blast that took place opposite a transport company. The explosives fixed on a motorcycle went off killing four persons and injuring more than 100.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) headed by Hemant Karkare started the investigations into the blasts. The investigators zeroed in on Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, former ABVP activist, based on the information given by the owner of the motorcycle who was traced to Surat in Gujarat.

After exploring the leads at Pune, Nashik, Bhopal and Indore, the Maharashtra ATS arrested Lt Col Prasad Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhye. The arrests revealed the role of Right-Wing extremist outfit Abhinav Bharat in the blasts. Investigations further revealed that self-proclaimed Hindu seer Sudhakar Dwivedi played the key role in hatching the conspiracy which was allegedly set in motion to avenge jihadi attacks.

The Maharashtra ATS filed charge sheet against 14 accused on 20 January 2009 and 21 April 2011 before the Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) Court in Mumbai. The accused included –

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur

Major (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay

Lt Col Prasad Purohit

Sameer Kulkarni

Rakesh Dhawade

Sudhakar Dwivedi aka Dayanand Pandey Sudhakar Chaturvedi

Pravin Takalki

Shivnarayan Kalsangra

Shyam Sahu

Ajay alias Raja Rahirkar

Jagdish Mhatre

Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange were proclaimed to be absconding.

Out of them Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Major (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Sameer Kulkarni, Rakesh Dhawade, Sudhakar Dwivedi aka Dayanand Pandey Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Pravin Takalki were sent to judicial custody while Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Ajay alias Raja Rahirkar, Jagdish Mhatre were released on bail.

The investigations into the matter were handed over to National Investigation Agency (NIA) on 13 April 2011.

The arrests of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and others connected with Abhinav Bharat sparked a political controversy in Maharashtra. Shiv Sena came out openly in support of Sadhvi and Col Purohit.

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray even alleged that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) that was in power in Maharashtra along with the Congress was framing members of Hindu organisations on false charges.

Amidst allegations that the accused being framed on false charges, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur kept on applying for bail. After denying initially, the Bombay High Court granted her bail on 22 April 2017. This paved the way for Col Purohit’s release from jail.

Similarly, Col Purohit had also been filing for bail at the Bombay High Court. But the same were rejected, much like Sadhvi Pragya's. Col Purohit had then moved Supreme Court for bail. The apex court has reserved its decision on the issue so far, but Purohit was given bail today (21 August).

First published: 21 August 2017, 14:52 IST