In a major relief to Pragya Singh Thakur, the National Investigation Agency Court refused to restrain Sadhvi from contesting Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday. The court said that the matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Election Commission and only the poll body can take the decision. Out on bail, Thakur has been discharged by a court on charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the 2008 case, but is still facing trial under other criminal provisions, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In 2017, a Madhya Pradesh court acquitted Thakur of all charges in connection with the 2007 murder of Joshi, a right-wing activist. Earlier, Thakur had termed her fight from the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat as a "dharmyuddh" (religious war).
The Malegaon blast accused filed her nomination papers on Monday. Singh’s decision came as surprise for many as the party had scheduled Tuesday for the formality. News Nation has learnt that Thakur cited ‘shubh muhurat’ (auspicious timing) for her decision. No big leader was present at the time of the nomination. The 48-year-old is pitted against former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Digvijiya Singh. There are reports that the BJP took the decision under the pressure of its ideological parent body RSS.
Thakur courted controversy over her ‘shraap’ remark against Ashok Chakra winner Hemant Karkare. But that has not deterred the top BJP leadership in supporting her. Meanwhile, BJP chief Amit Shah defended the party's decision to nominate Thakur as a Lok Sabha candidate saying the allegations against her are false and the real culprits in the Malegaon blast case have evaded the law.
Sadhvi Pragya, who is out on bail in the Malegaon blast case of 2008, has been fielded by the BJP from Bhopal constituency. "It is absolutely a right decision. The allegations against her are baseless. Nothing against her or Swami Aseemanad have been proved," Shah said while addressing a media conference in Bengal.
Claiming that the "real culprits" were let off after being arrested, he said, questions should be asked why they were released. Speaking on the contentious NRC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Shah said refugees need not worry as after returning to power, the BJP will first bring the bill in Parliament and then implement the NRC across the country to weed out infiltrators.
Last week, addressing a gathering of BJP workers at Manas Bhawan auditorium in Bhopal, Thakur, who spent several years in jail after being arrested in the case, alleged she was illegally detained and beaten up by police personnel.
"Jab Mujhe Lekar Gaye, Gair Kanooni Taur Par, 13 Din Tak Rakkha, Pahle Hi Din Bina Kuchh Poochhe, Unhone Mujhe Bulaya, Itna Chauda Belt (showing size by her hand), Ek Belt Se Hath Sooj Jata hai, Doosre Belt Me to Hath Fat Jata Hai. (Police illegally detained me for 13 days. They called me and beat me with a wide belt. Hands get swollen just by one hit of the belt. The second strike can tear hand)," she said. "Ye Jo Belt Marte The, Poora Nervous System Dheela Pad Jata Tha, Sunn Pad Jata Tha, Ye Din Aur Raat Hota Tha. (The strike of belt makes nervous system go blank, this happened day and night)," she said in a choked voice.
(With agency inputs)