A top public prosecutor has said that she is under pressure from the agency investigating the 2008 Malegaon blasts, to go soft on Hindu terror suspects in the case ever since the new government came to power.
Rohini Salian, Special Public Prosecutor in the case, told The Indian Express that she was told by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), who would not discuss the case over phone, that she needed to "go soft". It was a message he was passing on, Salian said. This was soon after the BJP came to power in a landslide general election.
Four people were killed and 79 injured in September, 2008 when blasts went off in Maharashtra's Malegaon, a predominantly Muslim town 200 miles east of Mumbai, during the month of Ramzan. Investigations linked the blasts to Hindu terror suspects and 12 people were arrested, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit.
Salian said she was told that she was not to appear in the court for the State of Maharashtra just before one of the regular hearings in the case in the Sessions Court. She was told another advocate would attend the proceedings.
"A day before June 12, when the case came up again for regular hearing (in the trial court), the same officer who had come to my office came up to me and said there are instructions from higher-ups, someone else will appear instead of you. I said I was expecting this and, good, you have told me this, so please settle my bills," Salian was quoted as saying.
She said she wanted the NIA to officially denotify her from the case. "So that I am free to take up other cases, against the NIA, if need be. He must have conveyed it to the higher-ups and I am waiting for their action. I have not heard from anyone since then," the 68-year-old lawyer said.
In a decision that came as great relief to the prime accused in the case, the Supreme Court said in April this year that Purohit and Thakur and others in the case cannot be charged under the stringent MCOCA at this stage and their bail could hence be examined on merit by a trial court. The court said there was no evidence to charge them under MCOCA.