Little after 9:30 pm on September 29, 2008, an IED fitted in a gold-coloured bike triggered a massive blast killing six people, injuring 100 in Maharashtra’s Malegaon. Eleven years later, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the prime accused in the blast has been fielded by the BJP for the Lok Sabha Elections from the prestigious Bhopal seat. Soon after the announcement, Thakur was quoted as saying, “Main bhagwa ko samman dila ke rahungi.” So, what exactly is the status of the case? Was Thakur acquitted? What happened to Malegaon blast probe? These are some of the poignant questions that we try to answer in following points:
1: Was Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur acquitted in Malegaon blast case?
In one word, the answer is – no. Thakur is out on bail in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. The confusion came after Thakur got clean-chit by the National Investigation Agency in the case. Later, on April 27, 2017, Singh was granted bail by the Bombay High Court. She was cleared under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). But the biggest point is that she still faces terror trial in other case. She is still an accused named by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad. At present, her legal status is that she is out on bail and faces charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for terror activities, criminal conspiracy and murder. In simple words, as of today, Thakur is a terror accused.
2: The bike, blast and Hindu terror
The aforementioned gold-coloured bike was the key evidence against Thakur. The bike registered under her name was used in the Malegaon blast. The initial probe was led by none other than Hemant Karkare, chief of Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad. Two months later, Karkare was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. He traced the bike to Surat and finally to Thakur. Army officer Lt Col Prasad Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay were arrested. This year, a third person associated with the term "Hindu terror", Swami Aseemanand, was acquitted in March by an anti-terror court in the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express that left nearly 70 people dead.
3: Tracing the roots
It was in 2007 Allahabad Kumbh that young Pragya Thakur became a ‘sadhvi’. She was ordained by the popular seer Swami Avadheshanand Giri, chief of the powerful Juna Akhada. The third of five children, Thakur joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in early nineties. She moved to Madhya Pradesh after her father was transferred from UP’s Jalaun to Lahar in Bhind district of the central state in the seventies as an agriculture department employee. Her father again shifted to Surat around 2000 when Thakur was setting out for a post-graduation in History.