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Malegaon Blast Case: First-Time BJP MP Pragya Thakur Appears Before NIA Court

The 49-year-old Hindutva activist had sought exemption from appearance for completing formalities relating to her election to Parliament, but the court rejected her plea.
Malegaon Blast Case: First-Time BJP MP Pragya Thakur Appears Before NIA Court

Image Courtesy: India

Mumbai: Bharatiya Janata Party MP Pragya Singh Thakur on Friday appeared before a special court here in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast case, after failing twice this week to do so.

When Special NIA Judge V S Padalkar asked the saffron-clad Thakur if she has to say anything about the blast, she said, "I don't know."        

The BJP MP made the appearance as per the special court's direction that all the accused should present themselves before it once a week.

The judge read out his order to the accused where he had directed them to do so.         

He said the court has so far examined 116 witnesses, including doctors and 'panchas'. However, during most the the hearings, the accused were absent and represented by their advocates, he added.

He then called up Thakur and another accused, Sudhakar Dwivedi, to the witness box and asked them whether they were aware of the Malegaon blast in which six people were killed, to which Thakur replied, "Mujhe jankari nahi hai" (I have no information about it).

Dwivedi gave a similar answer.    

This was Thakur's first appearance before the court after becoming an MP. The last time was during the framing of charges in the case in October last year.         

A red velvet cloth was put on the bench, where the accused sit, for Thakur to sit comfortably. When the judge called her to witness box to stand till the order is passed she said she will stand leaning by the window instead of sitting in the chair given by the court.         

Special NIA Judge V S Padalkar last month directed all the accused, including Thakur, to appear before the court at least once a week.         

The judge then said an exemption from appearance would be granted only if cogent reasons were submitted.

On Monday, the special court rejected application of Thakur, who defeated Congress veteran Digvijay Singh from Bhopal, for exemption from appearance in the court this week.

The 49-year-old Hindutva activist had sought the exemption for completing formalities relating to her election to Parliament, but the court said her presence is necessary at this stage in the case.

On Thursday, her lawyer Prashant Magoo told the court she is suffering from high blood pressure and is unable to travel to Mumbai from Bhopal.        

The court granted her exemption for the day and asked her to appear before it Friday.         

"Today (Thursday), the exemption is granted. But she will have to appear on Friday else she will have to face consequences," the judge had said.         

Thakur was hospitalised for a stomach ailment in Bhopal Wednesday night and discharged early Thursday, her close aide Upma had said.        

The court is recording the testimony of witnesses in the case.        

Seven persons, including Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit, are facing trial in the case.        

Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a power-loom town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008. According to police, the motorbike was registered in Thakur's name and that led to her arrest in 2008. The Bombay High Court granted her bail in 2017.         

The accused are facing trial under various sections of the UAPA, the Indian Penal Code and the Explosive Substances Act.      

They have been charged under UAPA sections 16 (committing terrorist act) and 18 (conspiring to commit terrorist act).         

They are also facing charges under IPC sections 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 153(a) (promoting enmity between two religious groups).

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