The special National Investigating Agency (NIA) court on Wednesday dropped the stringent MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999) charges against 2008 Malegaon Blasts accused Sadhavi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col. Prasad Purohit, as well as four other. Instead, it charged them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).According to the prosecution, Purohit and other accused had carried out the blast in Malegaon during Ramadan on September 29, 2008, which killed seven people. The court refused to accept NIA’s contention that there wasn’t sufficient material to hold up the chargesagainst Thakur. NIA had earlier given her clean chit while replying to her bail application in the Bombay High court. The court presided by Judge S D Tekale was hearing discharge applications filed by the accused in the case. In its final orders, Pragya Thakur, Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Lt.col.Prasad Purohit, Sudhakar Dhar Diwedi and Sudhakar Chaturvedi were discharged of the MCOCA charges, and will now be tried only under UAPA and the IPC.The court also granted a clean chit to three accused – Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu and Praveen Takalki. Two others — Rakesh Dhawade and Jagdish Mhatre – were also let off from all stringent acts andinstead were charged under the Arms Act.The court said there is no proof to substantiate the claim that one of the accused Dhawade was involved in the Jalna and Parbhani Mosque blast case which took place in 2003-2004, . “The Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) had earlier claimed that the accused were members of the Abhinav Bharat, a right-wing Hindu organisation, and had conspired to execute blasts in mosques in Jalna and Parbhani. However, there is nothing to substantiate that Abhinav Bharat was in existence then. There is also no material to show that during that period, Dhawade had any connection with the rest of the Malegaon 2008 blast case accused. In such circumstances, it cannot be said that accused committed the act in Parbhani and Jalna as a member of Abhinav Bharat. Hence MCOCA cannot be applied to them,” held the court.Speaking about Pragya’s role in the blast, the court held, “Considering all evidence at this stage, it can be said that Thakur had knowledge about the involvement of her motorcycle in the blast and (she expressed)dissatisfaction about causing fewer casualties. Hence it is difficult to accept submission on behalf of Thakur that she had no concern with the present crime as she had been exonerated by NIA.”The verdict came as a relief to Purohit’s wife, Aparna. “Due to the MCOCA, he (Purohit) had to spend nine years in jail. We are happy that finally those charges have been dropped,” she said. “We will fight out the rest of the charges the way we have been fighting since day one. Dropping MCOCA is a small step towards justice, but there’s still a long way to go.”The timeline Sept 29, 2008 Six killed & over 70 injured in bomb blasts in MalegaonOct 24, 2008 Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and 2 others arrestedNov 5, 2008 ATS arrests Lt Col Prasad Purohit for supplying money & explosivesJuly 31, 2009 Special MCOCA court drops charges against all 11 accused. Bom HC reinstates them in 2010

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Malegaon blasts: Partial relief for Prasad Purohit, Sadhavi Pragya Singh