A Glimpse Of All That Went Into Keeping Sadhvi Pragya In Jail 

by Geeta Bhatt - May 11, 2019 03:04 PM +05:30 IST
A Glimpse Of All That Went Into Keeping Sadhvi Pragya In Jail  Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur
Snapshot
  • In 2008, a government and its cronies misused the law to implicate innocents in a false case of terror.

    In turn, a faith and a civilisation were sought to be tarnished.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote in his book All Religions are True that a nation will be blotted out of the face of the earth when it pins its faith on injustice, untruth or violence. When an explosion shook the town of Malegaon in Maharashtra on 29 September 2008, little did this nation know that the subsequent events would be shrewdly engineered to build a narrative to denigrate and malign not only a faith but also the ethos of Indian civilisation.

A golden-coloured LML Freedom Motor Cycle, which was found at the site of the Malegaon blast site, was taken as “evidence” by the Maharashtra ATS. The motorcycle was found to be registered in the name of Pragya Singh Thakur. Though the chassis number on the vehicle was beyond recognition, a verification was managed through a dealer in Surat and Pragya was called to Mumbai for interrogation. The station diary of ATS Mumbai shows that she was interrogated from 11 October 2008 every day, but was shown arrested after 11 days.

During the judicial proceedings, ATS reported that she was kept in a lodge before her arrest but were unable to produce any evidence in the form of a receipt of her stay. The station diary entry categorically shows that she was admitted in the hospital more than once. She was admitted by the ATS in Shushrusha Hospital, Dadar, for medical treatment after she became indisposed. Later, she was shifted to Vaze Hospital located at Shivaji Park. Police records show that she was interrogated for more than seven hours after hospitalisation, but fail to mention if a fitness certificate was taken for the same.

Pragya had told the investigation agency time and again that the vehicle was in possession of Ram Chandra Kalsangra, also known as Ramji. A garage owner of Indore had testified that Ramji used to bring the vehicle to his garage for the last two years.

In spite of the benefit of doubt that Sadhvi could have been easily given, she was kept in custody and is documented to have been taken to JJ Hospital and KEM Hospital. She also underwent a narco test but the authorities failed to implicate her. Lack of evidence against Pragya Thakur prompted to build an ecosystem so as to implicate her. A person called Rakesh Dhawde was arrested under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) along with others.

This Act is applicable where there is “continuing unlawful activity” prohibited by law, which is a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment of three years or more when carried out as a member of an organised crime syndicate where more than one charge-sheet has been filed before a competent court within the preceding period of 10 years.

Dhawde was implicated in Jalna and Parbhani blast case in the past and hence fitted into the scheme of things. He was compelled to confess that Sadhvi was also part of the conspiracy. Under MCOCA, if the confessions are voluntary and are made before a police officer not below the rank of superintendent of police, the confessions are admissible. However, Dhawde retracted from his statement in front of the magistrate in the MCOCA court, which discharged all the accused on 31 July 2009.

The government of the day decided to challenge this decision in the High Court and, therefore, there was no end to the woes of Sadhvi Pragya. The High Court in 2010 set aside the order passed by the lower court. It is important to note that the ATS had also picked up a man called Dilip Patidar from Indore who was produced at Mumbai to give his confession. He was an important witness as Ram ji, who had been using Sadhvi’s vehicle, was his tenant. Dilip Patidar since then has been missing.

It was informed by the ATS officers that he was sent back to Indore (on his own) to get proof of his identity. Following Patidar’s disappearance, his wife moved the court and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was handed over the case. CBI tried twice to submit a closure report in the absence of any evidence of Patidar being alive. The Madhya Pradesh High Court (Indore bench) refused to accept the closure report and issued an arrest warrant against the ATS inspector Ramesh More and now-retired assistant commissioner of police Rajan Ghule who picked up Dilip from Indore.

These two could have faced charges of criminal conspiracy and fabrication of evidence had the Congress and NCP led state government, not rejected the CBI request. All the court cases pertaining to saffron terror were confined to courts where the then political dispensation was of the Congress party.

It is difficult to fathom how Sadhvi survived in such a hostile environment where the state was hindering the proceedings of a court and refusing the investigation of tainted officers. The Supreme Court, when approached by the appellants, observed that there was enough scope to doubt the application of MCOCA as none of the accused were involved in more than one case before, which is a prerequisite for application of this Act. The Supreme Court order also doubted the role of the accused in the Jalna and Parbhani bomb blast cases.

Subsequent decisions given by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) mentioned lack of evidence against Sadhvi Pragya and others. Words fall short while expressing the agony and physical torture meted out against Sadhvi Pragya, when she was being portrayed as the face of a well-orchestrated false saffron terror narrative.

Unable to prove the charges pressed on her for nine long years, despite the vindictive approach of investigative agencies, authenticates the fabricated plot to malign a simple woman whose probable fault was to be vocal in praise of her lord and culture. It’s time this injustice and untruth imposed upon the nation be discarded.

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