The BJP's Pragya Thakur and the six other accused in 2008 Malegaon blast have been told to be present before the court at least once a week for the proceedings of the case, a special court in Mumbai said today. The court's remarks come on a day the saffron-clad politician is in the eye of a raging row over her remarks on Nathuram Ghodse who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit is among the other accused in the case.
The special National Investigating Court today expressed its displeasure over their absence in courtroom. The court will hear the case next on Monday.
Major (retired) Ramesh Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Sameer Kulkarni are other accused in the case. They are all out on bail.
Pragya Thakur is the BJP's candidate from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh for the national election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah defended her candidature. PM Modi had said it was a symbolic answer to all those who falsely labelled the rich Hindu civilisation as "terrorist".
Six people were killed and nearly 100 injured on September 29, 2008, when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded in Malegaon, a textile town in Maharashtra 270 kilometres from Mumbai.
Pragya Thakur and Lt Col Purohit were arrested the same year. Pragya Thakur, who calls herself "Sadhvi", was seen as the face of what was termed Hindu terror during the Congress-led UPA government's rule.
In April 2017, she was granted bail by the Bombay High Court, which said no case was made out against her. But the high court denied bail to Lt Col Purohit, who went to the Supreme Court.
Four months later, Lt Col Purohit was granted bail by the Supreme Court. The top court pointed out that there were "material contradictions" in charge-sheets filed by Maharashtra's Anti-Terror Squad, which investigated the case first, and the National Investigation Agency, which took over in 2011.
Lt Col Purohit is accused of floating Abhinav Bharat, a right-wing group that allegedly planned and executed the blasts. He is also of collecting huge funds and using them to procure arms and explosives and organising meetings where the Malegaon attack was planned.
In October last year, the court had framed charges in the case against all the seven accused for terror activities, criminal conspiracy and murder, among others.
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