Malegaon victim's father, activist ask court and EC to bar Sadhvi from contesting polltext_fields
Mumbai/New Delhi: A Malegaon blast victim's father and a political activist Thursday moved the special NIA court and the Election Commission respectively seeking barring of prime accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur from contesting the Lok Sabha polls, a day after the BJP fielded her from Bhopal.
The BJP, meanwhile, said it will contest the polls in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh as a fight against the alleged "conspiracy" by the Congress to defame Hindu religion by linking it to terrorism.
The application before the National Investigation Agency(NIA) court in Mumbai was filed by Nisar Sayeed, who lost his son in the blast in 2008.
Special judge V S Padalkar sought replies from both the NIA and Thakur and posted the matter for Monday.
The applicant pleaded that Thakur, who is out on bail, be asked to attend court proceedings in Mumbai and be barred from contesting the election as the trial is in progress.
Thakur has spent nine years in jail and is out on bail since 2017 on health grounds.
If Thakur was "healthy enough to fight elections in the crippling summer heat", then she has misled the court, Sayeed alleged.
A petition seeking cancellation of her bail is pending before the Supreme Court, the applicant said.
Six people were killed and over 100 injured in a bomb blast at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad(ATS) arrested Thakur and others in the case, alleging they were part of a Hindu extremist group which carried out the blast.
The NIA later gave Thakur a clean chit, but the court did not discharge her.
It dropped charges against her under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, but she is still facing trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code sections.
In a letter to the Election Commission, Poonawalla said the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had found Thakur to be the "principal conspirator" in the Malegaon blast.
Her name has also cropped up in the Ajmer Dargah blast case, he said.
"I would humbly request the Election Commission of India to take further necessary steps to uphold the Model Code of Conduct 2019 and take appropriate action against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and debar her from contesting elections," the letter said.
He said in his letter that "a candidate accused with terror links must not be permitted to contest elections." She also stands accused of "murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, and of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion", said Poonawalla, who is known for his proximity with the Congress.
However, as per the law, any citizen above 25 years of age is eligible to contest polls unless convicted for any crime that entails punishment for two years or more.
Calling Thakur an innocent person, BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said she was tortured and asked opposition parties what problem they had if the BJP has fielded her as its candidate.
"We are contesting this election in Bhopal as a fight against the Congress conspiracy to insult Hindu religion by linking it to terrorism. Digvijay Singh was the face of this conspiracy," Rao told reporters in Delhi. Singh is the Congress candidate from the seat.
Rao alleged that Congress president Rahul Gandhi had "masterminded" this conspiracy, claiming that it was meant to appease a minority community.