Mumbai: The traces of explosives found in the home of one of the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case could have been “planted” by an officer of the Mumbai Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) which first led the first probe, the National Investigation Agency or NIA has said.
In a claim that could be a major blow to the police investigation, the new chargesheet from the NIA has said that this came forth when they recorded the statements of two Army officers who had deposed before the Army’s Court of Inquiry against Lt Col Prasad Purohit, one of the prime accused and a military intelligence officer.
“Both officers were examined and they revealed that on 3rd November 2008, they suspiciously found API Bagde of ATS in the house of (accused) Sudhakar Chaturvedi when he was not present in his house… the question arises here as to why API Bagde visited the home in the absence of the accused,” the chargesheet says.
The NIA also states the ATS officer had “requested (the Army officers) not to tell anything about his presence”.
Three weeks later on November 25, 2008 the ATS conducted a search of Chaturvedi’s home and collected swabs of RDX which chemically matched with the RDX found at the blast site, the NIA says.
“This recovery itself becomes suspect on the ground that the ATS may have planted the RDX traces to implicate him (Chaturvedi) and the other accused persons in the case,” the chargesheet reads tearing into the ATS probe.
The charges against activist Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and five others have been dropped citing lack of evidence against them in the 2008Malegaon blasts case. But the elite agency has recommended prosecuting Lt Col Purohit for conspiracy.
Six people were killed and 101 were injured when two bombs fitted on a motorcycle exploded on September 29, 2008. Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and others were arrested and were charged with plotting the blasts as part of a pro-Hindu group, Abhinav Bharat.
The case was first investigated by Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad, with its chief Hemant Karkare leading the probe. Mr Karkare was killed battling the Lashkar e Taiba terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008.