Shiv Sena worker files petition against ATS

Kartik Krushna Dashmi

Mumbai: A Shiv Sena party worker, Shilpa Sanjay Deshmukh, filed a petition at the Bombay High Court on Thursday demanding a judicial inquiry into the alleged ill-treatment of the Malegaon blast suspect, Pragnya Singh Thakur. The petition also demands that the case be transferred from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) to the State CID in Pune.

Ms. Deshmukh said media reports on Pragnya’s custodial torture and illegal detention prompted her to file the petition. The reports were based on Pragnya’s statement submitted to the Nashik court on Monday.

"I have filed the petition in my individual capacity. My party has not asked me to do it, although they are aware of it," she said.

The petition says that male officers had investigated Pragnya and narco tests were conducted on her afterafter her police custody ended.

Stating Pragnya’s religious orientation, it chides the ATS investigation for being prejudiced against Hindu organisations and Hindu accused. In contrast, the ATS has soft peddled the involvement of "Muslim organisation Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)."

The petition criticises the charges of the investigating agency as "baseless," especially in the context of the ATS’ denial of Lieutenant-Colonel Prasad Purohit’s involvement in the Samjhauta blast.

Citing an instance of a narco test in another case, the petition states Karim Telgi, prime accused in the stamp paper scam, had named many political leaders in his tests; however, "the State government ignored the same for the reasons best known to them, says the petition." "This is an example of giving unequal treatment for the results of narco analysis test. There should be guidelines for conducting narco analysis test."

Ms. Deshmukh takes exception to Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister R.R. Patil’s statement that there was strong proof against the Malegaon blast suspects. "The matter is sub-judice and therefore such an interview is highly objectionable and it is also prejudicial"

While Ms. Deshmukh has used media reports to put forth her claims, she has objected to ATS "disclosing everything to the media" and has called for restricting the ATS from making statement to the media "in public interest."

The date of the hearing is not yet decided. "We have just filed the petition today. It may come up for hearing by next Thursday. The issue is very hot," said Ms. Deshmukh’s lawyer V.P. Patil.


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