The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday filed the charge sheet in 2008 Malegaon blasts case before the Mumbai special court.
According to reports, the agency has given a clean chit to one of the main accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, besides faulting the investigation by slain Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare.
The NIA has decided not to name Thakur in the charge sheet and also to drop MCOCA charges against the accused in the case.
The investigators have claimed that they have failed to find any evidence linking Thakur to the 2008 Malegaon bombings, which will pave way for Thakur's early release.
The NIA has also reportedly termed the investigation run by Karkare as flawed. It has also claimed that the presented evidence against another key accused Lt Col Purohit had been fabricated and statements of witnesses were taken under duress.
The ATS headed the investigation before it was handed over to NIA. The ATS had identified 16 accused including Thakur and Purohit for their possible involvement in bomb attacks in Malegaon, a Muslim majority town in north Maharashtra.
At least seven were killed when two bombs planted on a motorcycle exploded on on September 29, 2008.
A strong case invoking various sections of Indian Penal Code, the MCOCA, the Arms Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention Act) and the Explosive Substances Act were filed against the accused.
The ATS, which had identified 16 suspects, had only named 14 while filing the charge sheets in the a Mumbai court in 2009 and 2011. The court then directed the NIA to carry out the further investigations in to the case.
The investigation into the bombings were conducted by two NIA teams. The first team was headed by IG Sanjeev Singh and the second team was led by IG GP Singh. The Sanjeev Singh investigation was said to be convinced of the involvement of Thakur and Purohit in blasts.
The second team led by IG GP Singh, however, re-examined the probe and re-recorded the statements, during which witnesses have reportedly said that they were forced to make statements to implicate Thakur and Purohit in the case.
Besides Purohit, Pragya Singh Thakur, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Ramesh Upadhya, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay, Rakesh Dhawade, Jagdish Mhatre, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Pravin Takalki have been arrested.
Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, who are accused in 2007 Samjhuata train blast also, have been named as absconders in this case.
Malegaon 2008 blasts changed the course of many probes including the one in Samjhauta train blast case in which 68 people had been killed. It was for the first time that the role of a Hindu right wing group had come to light in a terror attack. The case was investigated initially by Karkare who was killed during the 26/11 Mumbai attack.|
(With inputs from PTI)