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Law

Malegaon Blast Case: Special NIA Court Asks Pragya Thakur to Appear Whenever Summoned

Because the Bhopal MP was granted bail on health grounds, videos showing her dancing and playing basketball have caused controversy.

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New Delhi: BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, appeared before a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Wednesday and was asked to appear in person whenever summoned.

The Bhopal MP was granted medical bail in 2017 and last appeared before the court in January 2021, when she was granted an exemption from appearing until further orders.

While Thakur had received bail on medical grounds, several videos showing her dancing, playing basketball and kabaddi had made the rounds on social media. Considering Thakur uses a wheelchair when attending public events, these visuals caused controversy and opposition leaders questioned the veracity of Thakur’s claims of ill-health.

She had earlier in 2019 requested a permanent exemption from appearing before the court citing her medical condition, but the plea was rejected.

According to news agency PTI, earlier in the day, her lawyers told special judge for NIA cases P.R. Sitre that as Thakur was in Mumbai for medical treatment,  she would attend the court. She had not been summoned.

The Bhopal MP arrived at 12:25 pm and sat on a lawyer’s chair in the front row. A soft mulmul cloth was placed on the chair by her aides before she took the seat.

When the judge asked Thakur about her health, she said, “Kabhi theek rehta hai, kabhi nahi (Sometimes it is good, sometimes not).”

She has been getting treated at the Kokilaben hospital in Mumbai and as the treatment suited her, she came for further treatment, the MP told the judge.

Asked about the nature of her illness, she said she was suffering from multiple ailments.

She will be staying in Mumbai for the next two days and if required, get admitted to the hospital, Thakur added.

Judge Sitre then asked her to keep abreast of developments in the trial.

During her earlier appearance, Thakur had complained about dirt and “lack of facilities in the courtroom. On Wednesday, she said, “The present arrangement is good.”

The judge said there were some restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic and cleaning is done in a better manner now.

The court then asked her to remain present whenever required, to which Thakur agreed.

Seven persons, including Thakur and Army officer Lt Col Prasad Purohit, are facing trial in the Malegaon blast case.

Over 200 witnesses have been examined and eight of them have turned hostile during the trial so far. No witnesses were examined on Wednesday. The next date of hearing is December 1.

Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a communally sensitive town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

According to the Maharashtra police, who conducted the initial probe, the motorbike was registered in Thakur’s name which led to her arrest. The case was later handed over to the NIA.

The Bombay high court granted bail to Thakur in 2017.