Pragya Singh Thakur
Pragya Singh Thakur
Pragya Chandrapal Singh Thakur
2 February 1970
Dhatiya district, Madhya Pradesh, India
|Known for||One of the prime accused persons in Malegaon blasts happened on September 29, 2008|
|Political party||Bharatiya Janata Party, Bagrang Dal (Women div)|
Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
Pragya Singh Thakur (born 2 February 1970), better known as Sadhvi Pragya, is an Indian politician and an accused awaiting trial in the 2008 Malegaon bombings. She faced arrest for terror charges, but was granted bail on health grounds following the dropping of charges under the MCOCA section by the Special National Investigation Agency. She is contesting as a BJP candidate in the 2019 General Elections of India from Bhopal constituency.
Early life and background
Pragya had been a tomboy since her childhood, keeping short hair, and dressing like a boy. She was often called 'the girl with boyish looks'. She loved riding bikes. It was a motorcycle registered on her name which led to her arrest in connection with the Malegaon blasts.
Thakur studied at Lahar Collage (Bhind), where, in 1993, she joined Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Sangh Parivar. She subsequently rose to the position of state secretary and left this organization in 1997. After that she also worked for Rashtrawadi Sena and the Hindu Jagran Manch. She was also a member of Durga Vahini, women's wing of Hindu organization Bajrang Dal. She is also a founder member of Vande Mataram Jan Kalyan Samiti, which is a organization connected to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and belongs to the Sangh Parivar.
Thakur joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on 17 April 2019 and was declared as the BJP candidate for Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency for 2019 elections. Thakur was criticised for saying that Mumbai former ATS chief Hemant Karkare died because she cursed him as she was treated bad in jail after her arrest in 2008 blasts. BJP leader Fatima Rasool Siddique said her communal and obnoxious remarks have tarnished the image of Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Muslims and she will not campaign for Pragya. Election Commission of India directed the police to file an FIR against Pragya Singh Thakur for her Babri Masjid remark that she participated in demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992. Election Commission later banned Pragya for 72 hours from campaigning for violating the Model Code of Conduct by stirring up communal feelings. Pragya was later criticized[by whom?] for saying that killer of Mahatma Gandhi, Nathuram Godse was and always will be a patriot.
2008 Malegaon bombings
Arrest and trial
Mumbai's Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) claimed that Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur formed a group to take revenge for the Mumbai train bomb blasts and that her motorcycle was used in bomb blast. This motorcycle was a key evidence in the arrest of Thakur.
On 19 January 2009, Maharashtra Police filed a 4000 page charge sheet for the Malegaon Blast. According to this charge sheet Lt Col Prasad Purohit is the main conspirator who provided the explosives and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur arranged the persons who planted the explosive. On April 11, 2008, Sadhvi Pragya Singh and Lt Col Prasad Purohit met in Bhopal. In this meeting both agreed to for cooperation in carrying out the blast. However, the Maharashtra Control of Crime Act was dropped against Thakur in July 2009 because Thakur was not proven to be a member of an organized crime syndicate.
Thakur had challenged the Bombay High court order of March 12, 2010 rejecting her plea for bail, contending that her arrest violated the mandate of Article 22(1) and 22(2) of the constitution and also on the ground that no charge sheet was filed within 90 days as contemplated by Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Sadhvi Pragya contended that she was arrested by the Maharashtra Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from Surat on Oct 10, 2008, but was brought before the magistrate Oct 24, and thus was in illegal detention for 14 days and this was in violation of Article 22(2).
On 23 Sept 2011 the Supreme Court dismissed the bail plea. Dismissing her plea, the bench of Justice JM Panchal and Justice HL Gokhale said "The appellant's contention that she was arrested on October 10, 2008, and was in police custody since then is found to be factually incorrect by this Court. The appellant was arrested only on October 23, 2008, and within 24 hours thereof, on October 24, 2008 she was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nasik. As such, there is no violation of either Article 22(2) of the Constitution or Section 167 of Cr.PC."
In 2012 she also filed an application for bail in the Bombay High Court on health grounds, claiming that she has been diagnosed with third-stage breast cancer. On 9 August 2012, she, however, withdrew her application.
In 2014 she again filed an application for bail in the Bombay High Court which was rejected.
In April 2017, she was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on health grounds, following the dropping of charges in under the MCOCA section by the Special National Investigation Agency. She is currently under trial for multiple charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Allegations of torture
Pragya Singh Thakur has made, directly or indirectly, several claims about ill-treatment in prison. In August 2014, the Human Rights Commission ordered a probe into Thakur’s allegations of torture while in police custody. Subsequently the case of torture was closed as the panel did not find any evidence to support these claims.
Cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon Dr. S. S. Rajput of the Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow said that Thakur underwent a bilateral mastectomy to prevent recurrence of her cancer in 2008, stating he had operated on her three times. She had been operated twice to surgically remove both her breast to cure her breast cancer. She was criticized for saying that her breast cancer got cured because of using cow urine and Panchagavya.
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