Malegaon case:MCOCA charges against Purohit, Sadhvi dropped

MUMBAI, DHNS: In a fresh twist in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, a special court in Mumbai dropped the stringent charges of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against key accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Sudhakar Dwivedi, a self-proclaimed Shankaracharya.
The 29 September, 2008 blast on the eve of Navratri and during the holy month of Ramzan in the communally sensitive powerloom town of Malegaon in Nashik district, had claimed six lives and injured 101 others .
The Malegaon blast investigations is one of the most politically-sensitive terrorism cases and led to the issue of saffron terror.
Their discharge applications, however, has been rejected by Additional Sessions Judge S D Tekale, who presides over a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, and they would face charges under UAPA.
The seven against whom MCOCA charges were dropped and face charges under UAPA and Indian Penal Code besides Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur and Dwivedi, are Major (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Ajay Rahirkar.
Two suspects Rakesh Dhawde and Jagdish Mhatre will face trial only under the Arms Act.
The court discharged three accused Pravin Takalki, Shyamlal Sahu and Shivnarayan Kalsangra from the blasts case.
As most of the accused are out on bail, all previous bonds and sureties will continue, the court said.
Besides all charges of MCOCA, some UAPA charges too were dropped. "The UAPA sections 17 (raising funds for a terrorist organisation or a terrorist attack), 20 (being part of a terrorist organization) and 23 (aiding somebody who is part of a terrorist organization) have been dropped against all accused," the court said.
The court said the seven accused will face trial under sections 16 (committing a terror act) and 18 (criminal conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and sections 120(b) (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 326 (intentionally causing harm to others) of the IPC.
The next hearing has been fixed for 15 January, 2018 and charges are likely to be framed against the nine remaining accused.
The court felt that Thakur cannot be exonerated as her motorbike was used in the blast.

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