Sadhvi Pragya Thakur appeared in the specials court in Mumbai for the hearing of the 11-year-old Malegaon Blast case for the first time on Friday after becoming an MP from the Bhopal seat in the Lok Sabha Election. It was after getting exemptions from the court twice in one week, Thakur appeared before the court. And when the special NIA judge V.S. Padalkar asked her if she wants to say anything about the bomb blast case which killed six people in total, she said, “I don’t know”.
Thakur appeared before the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court with two of her aides and other accused persons in the case. Judge Padalkar read out the order and instructed them to be present in the court at least once a week. Additionally, he said the court has examined 116 witnesses by now, including doctors and ‘panchas’ (a category of witnesses), The Wire reported. During most of the hearings in the past, the accused were represented in the court by their advocates.
The last time Thakur appeared before the court was during the framing of charges last year in October. And this was not the first time that the judge had called all the accused persons to be present in the court as just last month he had ordered them to appear before the court at least once a week.
He then proceeded with the hearing and read out statements of witnesses and asked Thakur if she was aware of the bomb blast that took place at Malegaon in North Maharashtra in September 2008. “Mujhe jankari nahi hai (I have no information about it),” said Thakur and the other accused Dwivedi also gave a similar response.
Judge Padalkar proceeded to ask her about the proceeding in the case, the 49-year-old MP said she was not aware of the number of witnesses examined by the court. It is reported that the judge called her to the witness box to stand till the order is passed and she allegedly said that she will stand and lean by the window instead of sitting in the chair given by the court. This was despite the fact that her aides spread out a red velvet cloth on the bench where she was supposed to sit.
While the court is currently recording the testimony of witnesses in the case, seven persons, including Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit, are facing trial in the case.
The judge has been dismissing pleas of Thakur’s advocate Prashant Magoo to get an exemption from appearing in the case. She was denied exemption on Monday and yet she did not appear before the court. She had sought the exemption for completing formalities pertaining to her election to Parliament, but the court said her presence is necessary at this stage in the case.
The judge called her to the witness box to stand till the order is passed and she allegedly said that she will stand to lean by the window instead of sitting in the chair given by the court. This was despite the fact that her aides spread out a red velvet cloth on the bench where she was supposed to sit.
Then on Thursday her advocate Magoo told the court that 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.
She may be unwell to appear before the court on Thursday, but Thakur reportedly attended an event to celebrate the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap in Bhopal on the same day.
Six people were killed in the Malegaon bomb blast case but 100 got 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. As per Mumbai police, the motorcycle was registered under the name of Thakur and for having a connection with the case, she was arrested post the attack.
In 2017, NIA gave her a clean chit but the trial court refused to free her.
Picture credit: The Sentinel