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MHA defends NIA's decision to not challenge bail to Assemanand

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 11, 2015 18:45 IST
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The National Investigation Agency has decided not to oppose the conditional bail granted to Swami Assemanand, chargesheeted in the 2007 Samjhauta blast case, as it did not find any grounds for it.

This was stated by Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary in Lok Sabha while replying to a written question by Asaduddin Owaisi of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen.

The government has also declined to grant permission to challenge a bail order granted to two other accused in Mecca Masjid blasts case -- Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma -- on the "grounds of parity" since bail had been granted to Bharat Mohal Lal and Tejaram Parmar which had not been challenged by the prosecution.

However, the minister made it clear that both the accused were in jail as they were accused in other cases wherein they have been denied bail. On Aseemanand, whose actual name is Naba Kumar Sarkar, the Minister said he continues to remain in jail as he "could not comply with the conditions of bail specified" in the order of Punjab and Haryana high court last August.

The certified copy of the said order was issued by the court only on May 1, 2015. "The NIA examined the feasibility of filing a Special Leave Petition and decided that there were no grounds to challenge the order in Supreme Court," the Minister said.

Four Improvised Explosive Devices were planted on the Samjhauta Express, the only rail link between India and Pakistan, on February 18, 2007, in which 68 lives were lost.

The NIA has come under sharp criticism from political parties including the Congress and has been accused of failure to carry on investigations in all terror cases in which right-wing groups have been associated.

Special Public Prosecutor in Malegaon 2008 case Rohini Salian was said to have been eased out of the job after her claims that the NIA was pressurising her to go soft on accused which included Sadhvi Pragya and Col Srikant Purohit. However, the NIA has denied her charge.

In a related development, a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday in which a plea has been made seeking an appropriate "writ, direction or order appointing an advocate of eminence and reputation having high standards of integrity as the special public prosecutor for conducting the trial in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case".

Seeking a court-monitored investigation into the case, the PIL also wanted a direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation for registering a case against NIA officials and "their political masters" on whose instructions they were "pressurising" Salian to go soft on the accused.

The petition said the case involves people from "right wing extremist fringes of the society whom the present day government is allegedly seeking to shield by diluting their stance in the prosecution of the case."

It claimed the government was trying to soften their stance "which inevitably would  result in favouring of the accused, who belong to the majority community and thus strike a blow to the secular ethos of the Constitution and its mandate of protecting the interests of vulnerable minority."

"This is a case where the systematic victimisation based on pre-existing prejudices is writ large and ultimately the fair conduct of the trial would be a very important factor in order to restore the confidence of the minority who have been demoralised to a great extent," the PIL said.

It said that SPP's hallmark of being independent from government influence has been "severely compromised" in the case as was obvious from Salian's statement.

"This is also supported by the fact the NIA since it has taken over the investigation from the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad has not added any new evidence in the present matter despite strong evidence being available to it," it claimed.

It said unless the apex court steps in, the victims of the Malegaon blasts cannot expect justice in the current scenario due to the "brazen illegalities" allegedly committed by the government.

The high-profile accused in the case include Lt Col S P Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. The 4,000-page charge sheet had alleged that Malegaon was selected for the blasts because of its sizeable Muslim population. It named Pragya Singh Thakur, Purohit and another accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey, as the key conspirators.

The charge sheet had alleged it was Pandey who had instructed Purohit to arrange for RDX, while Pragya owned the motorcycle which was used in the blast.

Ajay Rahirkar, another accused, allegedly organised funds for the terror act, while conspiracy meetings were held at BhonsalaMilitarySchool in Nasik, according to the charge sheet.

Rakesh Dhawde, Ramesh Upadhyay, Shyamlal Sahu, Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni were the other accused. The blast on September 29, 2008 had left four dead and nearly 80 injured.

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