Mumbai: Sadhvi Pragya Thakur has gained immense popularity for her checkered journey from an accused in the Malegaon blast to the candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The ruling party – known for promoting terror-free nation – has grabbed the headlines since the announcement of Sadhvi Pragya’s candidature from Bhopal parliamentary constituency against senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
Backdrop of Sadhvi Pragya
Born in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh, Sadhvi Pragya had a long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). A post-graduate in history from the Jiwaji University, Gwalior and also holds B.P.Ed (Bachelor of Physical Education) degree from the Barkatullah University, Bhopal.
She also worked with the RSS student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Durga Vahini, women's wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The daughter of an Ayurveda doctor managed to gain popularity with her speeches as a student’s activist and was known as a great orator.
During her college days, she got in touch with the saints, getting inspired by them, Sadhvi Pragya sported a rudraksh mala with a trademark short hair along with.
Since then, Surat became her ‘karmbhoomi’ and while in the process of becoming Sadhvi, she also achieved a title of ‘star campaigner’ for the BJP.
Her life took a twist after Sadhvi Pragya was taken into custody for 24 days – of which the police had taken the permission of 11 days custody in October 2008. Sadhvi Pragya, along with eight others, were arrested in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government for the murder of Sunil Joshi.
Who is Sunil Joshi?
Sunil Joshi, a right-wing activist, whose name had figured in the Mecca Masjid, Samjhauta and Malegaon blast cases, was killed on December 29, 2007, in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.
Sunil Joshi, who had been chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the 2007 Samjhauta Express train blast case, was shot dead on December 29, 2007, when he was walking back to his hideout at Chuna Khadan locality in Dewas.
Sunil Joshi murder case:
The police on March 25, 2009, closed the case on the order of Dewas SP and all the accused, including Sadhvi Pragya, were released.
The Madhya Pradesh police on July 9, 2010, reopened the murder case and filed a chargesheet alleging that Sadhvi Pragya, and four others had killed Joshi fearing he might expose the entire conspiracy from Samjhauta to Ajmer blasts.
On February 26, 2011, police issued an arrest warrant against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.
Saffron-clad Sadhvi Pragya became the face of right-wing extremism after being arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, where six people were killed and 101 were injured when an improvised explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off at Malegaon on September 29, 2008. She served nine years of jail, however, currently she is out on bail.
In 2011, the Indore high court transferred the case to the NIA.
A Madhya Pradesh court on February 1, 2017, acquitted Pragya Thakur, along with all other accused of all charges in connection with the Joshi murder case.
On December 27, 2017, a special NIA court had dropped stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act charges against Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya, Sameer Kulkarni and other accused in the blast case.
Chargesheet filed by Madhya Pradesh police:
The 432-page chargesheet filed by the police before judicial magistrate Padmesh Shah stated, “Sadhvi was peeved with Joshi as he had personally misbehaved with her and ‘his overall behaviour was something not expected by a woman'”. The chargesheet also contains statements from 124 witnesses, according to a March 2011 News18 report.
The chargesheet also claimed that on the day of Joshi’s murder, Thakur was in Indore and her mobile call records show that she was in constant touch with the accused.
Thakur emerged as a major suspect after his relatives claimed she had come to their house on the day of the murder and had taken away his suitcase. She was also seen in the hospital where Joshi’s body was brought.
Sadhvi Pragya’s acquittal:
Three years later, on August 19, 2014 – just months after Narendra Modi become the prime minister – the case was again transferred to the Dewas district court. In September 2015, the Dewas court framed charges against eight people, including Thakur – who was charged under section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and other relevant sections of the IPC.
However, on February 1, 2017, Dewas additional district Judge Rajeev Kumar Aaptee acquitted all accused in the Joshi murder case.
In April 2017, the Bombay High Court approved bail for Thakur, who the ATS had said was among the prime conspirators of the blast.
Arrival into politics:
On April 17, 2019, soon after joining the BJP, Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s name was announced as the party candidate.
The sanyasini's recent statement that was grabbed into controversy was Sadhvi Pragya’s claim that she cured her breast cancer with cow products like urine’.
BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur has declared assets worth more than Rs 4.44 lakh that includes a 150 gram silver-coated brick which has Lord Rama inscribed on it, according to her affidavit.
Sadhvi Pragya has mentioned in her affidavit that she depends on alms and the society for her livelihood.
After accepting the challenge to fight against Digvijaya Singh, Sadhvi Pragya has recently said she was ready for a "Dharm Yudh".
Keep yourself updated on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 with our round-the-clock coverage -- breaking news, updates, analyses et all. Happy reading....