- NIA court discharges Pragya Thakur, Lt Colonel Purohit, 4 others
- Instead of organised crimes, they will be tried for criminal conspiracy
- Series of bombs blasts in 2008 in Malegaon killed 7, injured 101
A special National Investigating Agency (NIA) court has dropped charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999, against four accused including Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya. All four are already out on bail in the Malegaon blast case.
Seven 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. Sadhvi Pragya and Lt Col Purohit, both 44, were arrested the same year.
The court said Sadhvi Pragya "cannot be exonerated of conspiracy charges as she was aware of the motorcycle being used for the conspiracy."
In April, Sadhvi Pragya 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.
They will now face trial for conspiracy charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and charges under the Indian Penal Code.