Mumbai: The long-standing demand of all the seven Hindu extremists, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case was finally fulfilled on Friday when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) handed over the 'non-truncated' copies of the statements of over 140 witnesses.
This means, the accused would now have access to the names and addresses of these witnesses, who are yet to depose before the special court, which is conducting the trial in the case. However, this would hardly help the seven accused including parliamentarian Pragya Thakur and Lt. Col. SP Purohit.
“We have handed over the copies of the testimonies of witnesses like the chemical analyser and other technical witnesses. We have disclosed the identities of only these witnesses,” said Avinash Rasal, the special public prosecutor.
Rasal further said that the NIA has withheld the identities of nearly 38 'important and sensitive' witnesses.
“Initially, we were against disclosing the identities of all the 186 witnesses, however, later on the agency agreed to hand over the non-truncated copies. We had also assured the Bombay High Court that we would give details of all witnesses except 38,” said Rasal.
“These 38 witnesses are the most sensitive and important ones. These are the witnesses, who have heard the conversations of the accused. They have also seen the accused attending the meetings wherein conspiracies were hatched,” Rasal added.
The special prosecutor further said that the NIA would not disclose the identities of these witnesses.
Notbaly, in August 2019, the NIA had told the HC that it would disclose identities of 186 witnesses minus the testimonies of these 38 prime ones. The statement was made in response to an application filed by Pragya Thakur and Col. Purohit seeking the details of all the witnesses, whose identities were blanked out.