2 Dec 2021 4:58 AM GMT
A victim's father in the 2008 Malegaon Blast Case involving BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit has set alarm bells ringing with a letter to Nation Investigation Agency (NIA) after eight crucial witnesses were declared hostile. In the letter to Superintendent of Police, NIA, Nisar Ahmed seeks for the agency to reach out to the State Anti-Terrorism Squad for...
A victim's father in the 2008 Malegaon Blast Case involving BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit has set alarm bells ringing with a letter to Nation Investigation Agency (NIA) after eight crucial witnesses were declared hostile.
In the letter to Superintendent of Police, NIA, Nisar Ahmed seeks for the agency to reach out to the State Anti-Terrorism Squad for assistance and for an "effective" trial as witnesses are being called to court in a haphazard manner.
The letter states that NIA's competence to conduct the trial seems to be reducing based on the pattern of witnesses. So far, eight of the 208 witnesses have been declared hostile.
"So far, 8 crucial prosecution witnesses have been declared hostile by the Hon'ble Court on request of the Special Public Prosecutor. These witnesses have resiled from their earlier statements and now they are not supporting to case of the prosecution. It can be inferred that the NIA's competence regarding the trial is reducing based on the pattern of the witnesses…"
Advocate Shahid Nadeem for Ahmed today filed an application in the Special NIA Court of Judge PR Sitre to take the letter on record. The court has marked the application along with the letter as an exhibit.
The letter adds that even the trial judge has noticed the manner in which witnesses are brought, without the prosecution even bothering to study the relevance of their statements.
"The witnesses are called on by the prosecution without studying their statements and without following any particular sequence. While certain accommodations can be made in exceptional cases when witnesses are unable to be present, it can be seen that such lapses have become routine. The Hon'ble Court has also noted the same and asked the prosecution to study the relevance of the witness and their documents before calling them."
The victim says in the letter that the NIA took over the case much later and it was the State's ATS officers that had arrested Pragya Singh Thakur and others. The agency (ATS) had also recorded statement of the now hostile witnesses and would be in a "better position to brief and assist the court" but no efforts were being made to reach out to them, the letter adds.
According to the letter, not just in this case but it is seems in several other cases across the country "Hon'ble Courts have made observations regarding the inability of the NIA to prove the prosecution case which has led to acquittals of the accused persons.."
The letter cites the example of 51 witnesses being declared hostile in the Samjhauta Express blast case, 64 witnesses in Mecca Masjid Bomb Blast Case and 18 witnesses Ajmer Durgah blast case being declared hostile.
"To avoid a similar fate in the present case, as the victim's advocate, I appeal to your good sensibilities and ask for your sincere efforts. The victims are apprehensive due to the continuous parade of witnesses turning hostile. The victim's lawyers are always available and ready to assist the prosecution effectively," the letter reads adding that "ATS officers be called to assist the NIA in clarifying statements, investigation, and any other queries that the NIA may have that is causing the prosecution witnesses to turn hostile or for the purposes of an effective trial."
The special court had earlier rejected an application made by the victim seeking directions for ATS to assist NIA. The victims, however, say they are only interested in justice.
"The victims are laymen who lost their family members or were themselves injured in the bomb blast. They lead ordinary lives and do not have the same autonomy or power that many of the accused persons do. Despite the same, they are heavily interested in justice and to that effect – the victims have been part of the trial proceedings and appellate proceedings through the years."
The ATS was investigating the Malegaon blasts case before it was handed over to NIA.
On September 29, 2008, the bomb blast was caused in Malegaon by an explosive fitted to an LML Freedom Motor Cycle. Investigations in the case pointed to alleged Hindu extremists based in Indore. Twelve people were arrested.
Purohit and BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur, along with four others have been charged with murder, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, relevant sections under The Arms Act, The Indian Explosive Substances Act, and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.