After Ishrat case, government finds holes in Malegaon blasts probe

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) Even as the government is determined to fall back on the Ishrat Jahan case to corner the Congress in the ensuing parliament session beginning Monday, the “errors” in the Malegaon blast probe too are expected to figure prominently in the discourse, official sources said on Friday.

Two days after top National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials hinted that there was no evidence against Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit in the Samjhauta blast case but the probe was on against him in the Malegaon blast case of 2008, the home ministry on Friday said if there were “anomalies” in the previous investigation “corrective steps” will be taken.

“Since I come from the home ministry myself, it is difficult for me to make any specific comment. But what I can say is that if there were certain anomalies, very clear cut errors, in the process of the inquiry, corrective steps must be taken,” Minister of state for Home Kiren Rijiju said here.

The remarks come after a former Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief of Maharashtra, K.P. Raghuvanshi, who was investigating the 2008 Malegaon blasts, told a TV channel in Mumbai on Friday that he stood by the ATS inquiry into the blasts in which some Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists were chargesheeted by his team.

“I stand by my investigation and at no point of time did I have any doubts about my investigation,” Raghuvanshi said, adding that a few of the chargesheeted individuals had gone to Pakistan.

However, the NIA which took over the probe under the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had rejected the then Maharashtra ATS version.

“Both the chargesheets filed by ATS, and the NIA later, are with the court. Let the court decide,” Raghuvanshi said.

Rijiju said even the Pakistani links as reported by ATS Maharashtra in their chargesheet would be looked into again.

“If it (Pakistani links) is there, it is very evident there has to be a renewed attempt to rephrase the entire process. Definitely it is what the natural course of action demands,” the minister of state for home said.

The government had earlier this week denied putting any pressure on the NIA probing right-wing terror cases, including the Samjhauta Express and Malegaon blasts, to give a clean chit to any of the accused.

“There is no pressure from the government on NIA. All required procedures will be followed in sensitive cases,” Rijiju told reporters here on April 20.

The government has been criticising the Congress for coining the word “saffron terror”, and said this terminology was given by that party as it was “working with an agenda”.

Four people were killed in the Malegaon blasts in 2008. After initial probe by the Maharashtra ATS, the case was later handed over to the NIA.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said the ministry will provide documents to Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, that he needs to defend himself in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case.

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