10 Facts About the Malegaon Blasts

The following are the principal developments in the 2008 Malegaon case:

  1. The blasts took place on 29 September 2008 near Bhikku Chowk in Malegaon, Maharashtra. Almost simultaneously, another blast occurred in Modasa, Gujarat. The blast took place on the eve of Navaratri.
  1. 7 people were killed in Malegaon, and a 15-year old boy lost his life in Modasa. A total of 80 people were injured. The blasts were similar to a blast that occurred in the New Delhi just 3 days before this.
  1. Two low intensity bombs were fitted on a Hero Honda motorcycle and rigged to detonate in Malegaon. The motorcycle used later led the police to the accused.
  1. Initially, the blasts were suspected to be a work of Muslim extremists. The Mumbai Anti-terror Squad was deployed to help the Malegaon police in investigation. The ATS team was led by ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who was later killed in the 26/11 attack by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba terrorists in Mumbai.
  1. Through the motor cycle used, the ATS collected evidence which pointed to the involvement of Hindu extremist groups behind the attack. On October 24, 2008, the police arrested 3 people in connection with the blast- Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Shiv Narayan Gopal Singh Kalsanghra and Shyam Bhawarlal Sahu.
  1. Further investigation suggested the involvement of other Hindu groups in the blast. The names of organisations such as the Rastriya Jagran Manch, Sharda Sarvagya Peeth, Hindu Rashtra Sena and Abhinav Bharat came up in the investigation and further arrests were made of people linked to these organisations.
  1. On November 4, 2008,, the ATS arrested Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, a serving Army officer, for his involvement in the blast. By now the matter had taken a political turn, with the BJP and the Shiv Sena accusing the ATS of having political motives behind the arrests and accusing the Congress for using the ATS for political gains.
  1. The ATS investigation revelaed that several of the accused may have been involved in other acts of terrorism including the Modasa blast in Gujarat, the Malegaon blast of 2006, the Mecca Masjid Blast in Hyderabad in 2007 and the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast. The prosecutors filed charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, which requires the court to have taken cognizance of two previous chargesheets against one or more of the accused.
  1. In July 2009, the special court trying the case dropped the MCOCA charges on that ground that when the chargesheet was filed for Malegaon 2008, the cognizance of the accused was not taken in the other cases. In 2010, the Bombay High Court restored the MCOCA charges stating that cognizance is taken of a crime, not of an accused, and hence in this case since cognizance of the other crimes had already been taken, MCOCA could apply.
  1. On April 15, 2015, the Supreme Court set aside the Bombay HC order, and dropped the MCOCA charges, stating there was hardly any evidence against the accused in the previous cases. It also asked the HC to constitute a special court to try the accused and begin the trial at the earliest.

On June 25, 2015, the Indian Express quoted the Special Public Prosecutor in the case, Rohini Salian, as saying the NIA had instructed her to “go soft” on the accused.