The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is likely to file its chargesheet in the 2008 Malegaon bombings by alleged Hindu terror outfit, Abhinav Bharat, this month, the anti-terror probe agency said today, days after the Supreme Court asked it to complete the investigation at the earliest.
NIA Director General Sharad Kumar said the probe in the case has been completed and a chargesheet will be filed before the competent court in Mumbai "most probably within this month".
He denied there was any deliberate delay in submitting the chargesheet and said several accused arrested by Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad had filed cases in the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court. "Once the courts cleared all the litigations, we expedited our process of filing the chargesheet in the case," Kumar said.
NIA has listed 14 persons including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit as accused in the blasts in Malegaon town of Nashik district in Maharashtra on 29 September, 2008, in which seven people were killed when two bombs planted on a motorcycle exploded. The probe was initially conducted by the Maharashtra ATS and later handed over to the NIA.
Apart from Purohit, Pragya Singh Thakur, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Ramesh Upadhya, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay, Rakesh Dhawade, Jagdish Mhatre, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Pravin Takalki have been arrested.
Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, who are accused in the 2007 Samjhuata train blast also, have been named as absconders in this case.
The Malegaon 2008 blasts changed the course of many probes including the one in the Samjhauta train blast case in which 68 people were killed. It was for the first time that the role of a Hindu right wing group had come to light in a terror attack. 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, Maharashtra ATS had booked 16 people but filed chargesheets on 20 January, 2009 and 21 April, 2011 against 14 accused in a Mumbai court. Purohit and Pragya had moved several applications before the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court challenging the chargesheet and the applicability of stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case.
The accused have denied any involvement in the twin blasts that rocked Malegaon on 29 September, 2008, that left seven dead and several wounded. They have also refuted being co-conspirators in any organised crime syndicate.