On 17 April, Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. She will contest in the upcoming elections from Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, against the Congress leader Digvijay Singh. Thakur is a former national executive member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
On 29 September 2008, two bombs concealed in a motorcycle had exploded in the Muslim-dominated town of Malegaon in Maharashtra. Four persons were killed in the blast and 79 others were injured. Thakur was arrested in October 2008. In January 2009, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad stated that she owned the bike associated with the blast, and had given it to a co-accused Ramchandra Kalsangra, who planted the bomb and placed it at the blast site. The evidence the ATS presented against Thakur included statements from witnesses and co-accused, which placed her at meetings planning the blasts before its execution. But in 2016, the National Investigation Agency dropped Thakur and five others from the list of accused persons, claiming that “sufficient evidence have not been found” against them. The NIA said that the ATS had tortured a witness who made a statement indicting Thakur, and another witness against her retracted his statement. On these grounds, and arguing the bike used in the blast was not in her possession, the NIA issued Thakur a clean chit. On 24 April 2017, the Bombay High Court granted Thakur bail.