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Sunil Joshi murder case: MP puts spanner in NIA probe

Source: PTI
April 01, 2011 18:38 IST

Madhya Pradesh government has put a spanner in the efforts of Union home ministry to have a combined investigation of all cases related to Hindu terror groups by refusing to hand over the murder case of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha activist Sunil Joshi, an accused in Samjhauta blast case.

The Centre had asked the Madhya Pradesh government to handover the probe of Sunil Joshi murder case to National Investigative Agency to which the state government said that the investigations into the case had been completed and a chargesheet filed in the court.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told mediapersons in New Delhi after presenting his monthly report that "..Sunil Joshi is not a case to be transferred. That is a little more complicated... they (NIA) have to apply in the court under different sections of the act. They will apply to the court."

The question was asked after Chidambaram presented the March report of his ministry in which he stated that two cases -- Malegaon 2006 and Mecca Masjid -- were now being probed by the National Investigation Agency.

He said all other cases would be transferred once the Centre gets the views of the state governments concerned.

"It is a matter of time before the cases are identified to the NIA," he said. The Union Home Ministry has issued notification in the two cases, where right-wing terror groups' involvement has surfaced, to be investigated by the NIA, which is already probing the blast in Samjhauta Express -- rail link between India and Pakistan -- in which more than 65 people were killed.

The ministry has already sent a proposal to the Law Ministry seeking its legal opinion in the wake of absence of a nod from the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, official sources said.

Madhya Pradesh government has charge-sheeted some people, including Sadhvi Praghya Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon 2008 case, in connection with the murder of Joshi, an accused in Samjhauta Express blast case and three other cases.

The NIA Act empowers the Centre to unilaterally hand over any terror case to the agency and does not require the state government's consent.

However Madhya Pradesh government contends that there was no terror angle in the murder of Joshi. The decision to hand over the cases to the NIA was taken following concerns by security agencies that the suspects could use differences in the multiple probe at the trial stage to dilute the cases.

Joshi was shot dead at Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, in December 2007. Samjhauta blast accused Swami Aseemanand, who is currently in jail, had in his confessional statement named Joshi as one of the key conspirators in the right-wing extremist network.

Of the seven cases, the September 2006 Malegaon blasts and May 2007 Mecca Masjid blast cases are being probed by CBI. The October 2007 Ajmer Sharif blast case is being probed by the Rajasthan ATS while case of September 2008 blasts in Malegaon is being probed by the Maharashtra ATS.

Rajasthan has a Congress government while in Maharashtra Congress is running a coalition government with Nationalist Congress Party.

The February 2007 Samjhauta Express blast and September 2008 Modasa blast cases have already been taken over by the NIA.

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in 2008 Malegaon blast case, has been placed under arrest by Madhya Pradesh Police last month in connection with the murder of Joshi.

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