Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ten terrorists entered Mum on 26/11: Cops

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The city crime branch probing the terror attack on Saturday confirmed that only 10 terrorists had entered the city just an hour before the hostage drama unfolded on November 26. While nine of them were killed in encounter, a 21-yearold was captured alive. Arms and ammunition brought in by the terrorists was enough to kill around 5,000 people, said police. Cops officially put toll at 162, including 18 foreign nationals.

The arrested terrorist, Ajmal Mohammed Amir Kasab, resident of Faridkot village in Pakistani Punjab’s Ukada district, told investigators all the terrorists had come from Karachi, police said.

They had come in a ship and used a boat to come to the shore, said the police. “Four Indians were already on the boat and the terrorists killed three of them while they used one, Amar Narayan, to handle the boat. When the boat was just three nautical miles away from shore, they slit Narayan’s throat and dumped his body in the trawler. They then used their own skill to come to shore.

“After landing at Fish Market at Cuffe Parade near Colaba, they formed four groups and hired taxis to reach to their destinations. A group of two young terrorists entered Hotel Oberoi, four into Hotel Taj Mahal, two stormed into Nariman House while the rest entered the CST railway station from its mail trains’ gate. Their plan was just to cause maximum damage and return with hostages protecting themselves,’’ said Rakesh Maria, joint commissioner of police, crime branch.

As the hostage drama began at around 9.30 pm, Kasab along with his accomplice, Ismail Khan, started random firing at CST railway station while the three other teams
had began firing at Oberoi, Taj and Nariman House. Kasab, who sustained a bullet injury in his hand during an encounter with the police near Cama Hospital, was captured near Girgaum Chowpatty while Ismail was gunned down. Police recovered a satphone, a GPS tracker, and Indian currency of Rs 6,200. The satphone contains a dozen international numbers.

Kasab, cops said, had come to Mumbai for the first time. Cops are still probing if the same terrorists had planted bombs in two taxis that exploded at Byculla and Vile Parle.

The terrorists, said police, wanted to launch an attack which would have international ripples. “They were to
return after completing their plan,’’ said Maria. He said they all were trained in the same batch in a terror camp.

“We have recovered 10 AK-56 rifles, 10 9mm pistols, two explosive devices of eight kg each etc. Kasab and Ismail had fired at Leopold before coming to CST. They all are highly-trained terrorists but it would be difficult to say which terror group they belonged to. We have also recovered 10 fake ID cards of some Indian colleges from the terrorists,’’ said Maria.

He said the terrorists had packed huge quantities of dates, almonds and raisins, which they ate during the three-day gun battle.


TERROR TOLL
Total killed 162
Total injured 283
Policemen killed 14
NSG commandos killed 2
Foreigners killed 18
Foreigners injured 22

The Times of India, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

48 HRS ON, NARIMAN HOUSE SECURED



ZEROING IN: NSG commandos prepare to storm the building after being airdropped on Friday morning

Two Terrorists, Five Hostages, An NSG Commando Killed, Dead Hostages Yet To Be Identified, Huge Cache of Arms Recovered

Mateen Hafeez & Sukhada TatkeI TNN
Mumbai: The two-day siege of Nariman House ended at 8 pm on Friday with NSG commandos storming the building and killing two terrorists. Five people, who were held hostage in the Jewish service centre, also died. Confirming the deaths, NSG director general J K Dutt said, “A huge cache of arms and ammunition was seized from the structure.’’ An NSG commando, Gajendra Singh, was among those killed.

A senior police officer said the bodies of the hostages were partly decomposed. A total of 14 people were rescued from the building, said sources.


The rabbi of the ultra-orthodox Chabad Libavitch Movement of Hasidic Jews, Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka and six others were taken hostage. However, additional CP K Venkatesham said, “We are yet to establish the identities of the hostages killed.’’ The couple’s two-year-old son and his nanny had managed to escape on Thursday.

Incidentally, the only time the firing and bombing ceased inside the structure after Friday noon was between 1 pm and 2 pm. However, firing re
sumed soon after 2 pm and continued incessantly in the building. Though the commandos reached the building’s terrace in a helicopter and took their positions, they seemed unable to enter the fourth floor until 6 pm when the terrorists blew up a large window pane on the third floor. The terrorists were continuously changing their position from floor to floor. All the window panes were covered with curtains, making it difficult for commandos to gauge the action inside.

Around 6.40 pm, locals gathered on the road near the
building and started shouting slogans thinking that the operation was over. However, barely 15 minutes later, the locals and the police realised that the operation was still on. Police had to resort to a volley of stern announcements to quieten the excited revellers.

The entire Colaba market area, where Nariman House is located, had turned into a battle ground. Police jeeps, fire brigade vehicles and ambulances, along with BEST buses were parked in the lanes and bylanes. Sniffer dogs from the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad and the NSG were taken near the building to check if any explosive had been planted around the building.
A pall of gloom hung over Colaba market, which is one of the busiest places in the vicinity. Occupants of the nearby buildings had gathered on the terraces of their buildings to catch a glimpse of the action. Residents of five buildings located near the Nariman House, who were evacuated on Wednesday, also gathered on the road to witness the encounter.

Around 3.15 pm, the commandos waved a piece of red cloth from the fourth floor, signalling their counterparts. Within seconds, the cloth was removed and the gun battle began. It was the time when the terrorists started firing relentlessly from the window.

Ten minutes later, the red cloth was up again and remained there till the terrorists blew up the window pane. In the next hour, around 25 hand grenades went off inside the
building.

Israeli experts said Indian security forces were premature in storming the building. “They should have sanitized the area and first collected intelligence about the terrorists before launching flushing out operations,’’ they added.

HOUSE OF TERROR
1. HOW IT BEGAN: 7.30 pm (Wednesday) Eight terrorists enter Nariman House, 4 Pasta Lane, Colaba, and order huge quantities of food. Some of them fan out and attack Cafe Leopold first and later enter the Taj


2. THE KILLINGS:
10 pm to Thursday morning Terrorists fire indiscriminately at neighbouring buildings and passersby. Many are killed. Police surround the area, NSG called in


3. RESCUE BEGINS:
12 noon to midnight NSG commandos do a recce of the building. Some of them station themselves on neighbouring rooftops. Manage to rescue nine people. Terrorists take up defensive positions, lob grenades intermittently


4. THE OPERATION:
7 am to 7 pm, Friday NSG chopper drops 30 commandos on terrace of the building. Deadly gun battle starts. Fourth floor catches fire. C4 explosive used to blow hole in the wall. Amidst heavy fighting, NSG gains control of the premises

The Times of India, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ATS unearths Hindu Rashtra plot

Mumbai: Investigation into the Malegaon blast has revealed that the suspects were looking beyond maiming the textile town. They were actually working to convert India into a “Hindu Rashtra” by 2025.

“Interrogation of Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey, who is in police custody till December 1, has revealed that the group was working to create an ‘Aryavarta Rashtra’ in India,’’ an ATS official said.

“They wanted to make India like what it was when it
was ruled by the Aryans; their dream was to convert the country into a Hindu Rashtra and an Akhand Bharat,’’ an official said.

The suspects planned to infiltrate government departments everywhere in the country with like-minded people and then convert India from a secular country into a Hindu Rashtra, officials said. “They had also planned their life in exile if their conspiracy was foiled and they happened to be ousted by the government. Purohit assured some of the other accused that they would contact other nations for asy
lum if they faced any problem,’’ one of them added.

But why didn’t the interrogation of Lt-Col Purohit reveal this “fact’’? An official said, “We did not imagine that the suspects would have such a
plan. Our main focus was on the Malegaon blast. So, we compiled questions focusing only on the blast for narco analysis. It was only after the examination of Dwivedi’s laptop that we came to know about this.’’

Dwivedi, arrested from Kanpur on November 14 for a suspected role in September’s Malegaon blast, is accused of instructing Lt-Col Purohit to procure the RDX and execute the blast. The ATS has arrested 11 people so far.

Dwivedi is also believed to have told ATS sleuths that he first joined the Indian Air Force in 1989 but opted out in 1990.

Officials managed to seize his two laptops before he could destroy them. “The police found records of over 15 meetings Dwivedi had with the other accused in the blast. Purohit used to videograph these
meetings and, at one of these meetings, Abhinav Bharat convener Sameer Kulkarni is seen discussing funds collected for their cause,’’ an official said.

Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian has told a MCOCA court that Dwivedi is clearly heard asking others to “now listen to my plan’’ about the blast. “We have to do our duty in the interest of the nation and justice,’’ Salian said, referring to the larger conspiracy. Dwivedi is also seen talking about RDX, remote controls, timers, short- and long-range weapons and the conspiracy, Salian has told the court.

The Times of India, November 27, 2008

26/11 terror attack coverage at the Taj


November 27, 2008: Mateen Hafeez covering the 26/11 terror attack at the Taj where four Pakistani terrorists entered and and went on a mayhem...

26/11 coverage at the Taj



November 27, 2008: Mateen Hafeez, covering the 26/11 terror attack at the Taj where four Pakistani terrorists entered and and went on a mayhem. .

26/11 coverage at the Taj


November 27, 2008: Covering the 26/11 terror attack at the Taj where four Pakistani terrorists entered and and went on a mayhem. Mateen Hafeez, Nadeem Asran and Kartikeya Tripathy..

Monday, November 24, 2008

Plea in SC for fresh probe into ’06 Malegaon blast

Mumbai: A petition asking for re-investigation of the serial blasts in Malegaon in September 2006 was filed in Supreme Court last week. According to the petitioners, the current teams of the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) should be directed to again probe the twoyear-old blast case, which had killed 31 people and injured 297.

The petitioners, Jamiat-ul-Ulema (New Delhi) member Maulana Asjad Madni, advocate Anees Saharvardi and Malegaon resident Yaseen Bakrawala, stated in their plea that the nine boys—termed members of the banned SIMI—arrested for the cemetery blast were innocent and they should be released immediately.

“We have mentioned several points in the petition, which need to be looked into. For instance, the approver in the 2006 Malegaon cemetery blast, Abrar Ahmed, stayed in Indore and Deolali to avoid arrest after the Shab-e-Baarat blast,’’ said advocate S S Shaikh, one of the senior lawyers who compiled the peition.

Ahmed, who went missing after the serial blasts in the textile town, had reportedly spoken to his family in Malegaon from Indore and Deolali. He had stayed in Indore for almost 15 days, his family had told TOI then. “The Malegaon 2008 suspects, Sameer Kulkarni, Shamlal Sahu, Shivnarayan Singh and Pragya, have an Indore connection. Moreover, according to the ATS, the confidential meetings they had were all conducted in Deolali and Indore. There is a need to examine whether the latest suspects had any role in the earlier case or not,’’ said Shaikh. The ATS had said the suspects in this year’s Malegaon blast including, Lt Col P S Purohit, had arranged meetings in Indore and Deolali.

The Kul-Jamati Tanzeem, a Muslim organisation formed in Malegaon after the 2006 blasts, has been demanding a fair probe since the arrest of the nine youngsters.

The residents said the role of a police officer, who was posted in Malegaon then, should also be looked into. “Abrar Ahmed had told his relatives before the arrest that the police officer had instructed him to go to Indore and hide there,’’ said Shaikh.


The Times of India, November 24, 2008

Accused had planned sleeper cells in B’desh

Cops Identify Youths Trained Five Years Ago

Mateen Hafeez
Mumbai: Investigations of the Malegaon September 29 bomb blast have revealed that the arrested accused wanted to send sleeper cells to Bangladesh to avenge the “atrocities’’ on Hindus. The police have, so far, identified more than a dozen youths from a batch of 54 operatives who were trained in terrorist activities five years ago. The trainees at the camp were reportedly told that Hindus were not being given their rights in Bangladesh.

This revelation came during the interrogation of Sameer Kulkarni, a co-founder of Abhinav Bharat and one of the accused in the explosion that killed six persons. Kulkarni told the police that the organisation spread rapidly and had around 5,000 members across the country. Moreover, it has a few dozen members in Bangladesh. According to antiterrorism squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, arrested Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit had floated the organisation in February 2006. Kulkarni, who worked in a printing press in Bhopal, had been publishing literature to “educate” Hindu youths on religion. A key suspect, he is accused of receiving money through hawala and attending meetings where conspiracies were hatched for the explosion.

“As many as 54 youths were trained in assembling bombs in Sinhgad in 2003 and one of the arrested accused, Rakesh Dhawade, had organised this camp,’’ public prosecutor Ajay Misar told a Nashik court last week. The police said, “It’s difficult to identify all those trained by the Dhawade group five years ago who later joined Abhinav Bharat.’’

“Abhinav Bharat’s operatives were trained to avenge the attacks on Hindus and were lying low. They were asked to act when ordered and were brainwashed about the alleged atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh. The operatives were also trying to set up a branch there,’’ said a source.

Some of the Bangladeshi members of Abhinav Bharat fled from India soon after learning about Kulkarni’s arrest. They would enter India from Kolkata, said a source.

The police have found that some people from Bangladesh—Hindus are a minority there—had also come to India to attend Abhinav Bharat’s secret meetings. An ATS team probing the financial angle in the Malegaon blast found that there were money transaction from outside the country as well.

Those trained by the Dhawade group were also responsible for the blasts at different mosques in Jalna, Purna and-Parbhani, a source said.

November 24, 2008, The Times of India

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pandey used to film all ashram visitors: Probe

Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Investigation has revealed that self-proclaimed seer Dayanand Pandey used to surreptitiously film all those who visited his ashrams.

The visitors, said sources, included policemen, top intelligence officials, businessmen, bureaucrats and so on. They were filmed speaking to Pandey.

Police sources said Pandey, arrested on November 14 from Kanpur for his alleged role in the Malegaon bomb blast, had “high level’’ contacts with some politicians. “We have seized his laptop and a pen drive. The laptop was sent for cyber analysis to the forensic science laboratory in Bangalore on Thursday. During examination, we found that Pandey had been videographing all his visitors with a camera and the visits were stored in his laptop. Pandey’s conversations with his visitors were also stored there,’’ said an officer. The videography was carried out in Kanpur and Jammu & Kashmir.

After his arrest, public prosecutor Ajay Misar told the court that Pandey had directed Lt-Col Purohit to arrange the explosives used in the Malegaon blast. Pandey had also fixed a meeting between Purohit and Ramji, a wanted accused in the case, in August.

“Pandey was in the habit of filming his visitors. Perhaps, it was done just to keep a record of all the people he met in his ashram. However, we do not want to take a chance. We are waiting for the forensic report for further investigation.’’ said an officer.

“The laptop has been in Pandey’s custody since 2005 and the hard disc is full of films pertaining to his meetings with disciples and visitors. Some other folders in the
laptop may throw light on the hundreds of people who met him. The laptop also has photographs of Pandey with several religious leaders, politicians and bureaucrats. We are verifying the purpose of these meetings,’’ said a source.

Pandey is believed to have told ATS sleuths that he had joined the air force wing of the NDA in 1989 but dropped out in 1990. The police claimed to have recovered a boarding pass of an airline, a chequebook,a passbook,an ATM card, a debit card, a passport and a pen drive from Pandey.

The police have got the records of Pandey’s bank account and an officer who has earlier worked with the economic offences wing has been entrusted with the job of verifying the financial transactions.

The laptop contains the history of Pandey’s ashrams,
his lectures, meetings with high-profile people and so on. A list of donations given to his ashram and other social activities is also being verified.

The police said Pandey was also in constant touch with sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who is now in judicial custody. They added that Ajay Rahirkar, treasurer of Abhinav Bharat, had given a huge sum of money to Pandey.

The Times of India, November 22, 2008

Dhawade held in 4-yr-old case

Arms Expert Arrested For Third Time In 10 Days

Mumbai: The Parbhani police on Thursday arrested antique dealer Rakesh Dhawade in connection with a fouryear-old case in which a bomb was hurled inside a mosque at Purna taluka in Parbhani district. This is the third time that he has been arrested over the past 10 days.

Dhawade, who was arrested on November 2 for his alleged role in the Malegaon September 29 blast, is currently in Purna police’s custody. On November 13, he was chargesheeted for his alleged role in the Parbhani’s Mohammedia mosque blast that took place on November 21, 2003. Again on November 15, he was chargesheeted for being involved in the explosion at the Qadriya mosque in Jalna—he had reportedly trained Bajrang Dal youths who hurled the bomb at the mosque in August 2004.

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Thursday invoked the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against the suspects in the Malegaon bomb blast. The Parbhani and Jalna bomb blast cases were made basis for the MCOCA.

“We have arrested Dhawade in our case and got his police custody till November 25. We are still probing the matter to establish his exact role in the four-year-old blast case,’’ said S P Yadav, inspector-general (Nanded range).

The arrested accused in the Purna’s Meraj-ul-Uloom mosque blast case (August 27, 2004) had told the ATS two years ago about a man who organised a terror training session and provided them with firearms. However, the ATS then did not take much effort to nab that suspect. Dhawade’s name cropped up in the Meraj-ul-Uloom case while he was being questioned by a team led by ATS chief Hemant Karkare in connection with the Malegaon September 29 blast.

Dhawade has been accused of collecting funds for the terror module, Abhinav Bharat, allegedly responsible for the Malegaon blast. During interrogation, Dhawade admitted that he had organised a terror training camp for Bajrang Dal members in Sinhgad in 2003 when as many as 54 youths were taught howe to make bombs and operate firearms. Even the trainees were booked for the Parbhani, Jalna and Purna blasts. They are also accused in a case in which a bomb went off while it was being manufactured in Nanded on April 6, 2006. The police had seized 1.5 kg highintensity gunpowder, an improved explosive device, remote controls, electronic tools, timers, switches, bombmaking materials, false beards, moustaches and a notebook containing bombmaking instructions.


THEY THREATENED TO KILL ME: PUROHIT
Pune: Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit on Friday lodged a complaint against Mumbai ATS officials for allegedly torturing him in custody.

Purohit was in Mumbai ATS custody for 17 days before being taken to Pune for a forged documents case, following a complaint lodged against him by businessman Milind Date.

On Friday, Purohit filed a three-page written complaint before judicial magistrate (first class) G G Itkalkar when he was produced before him by the Pune ATS following the expiry of his two-day police custody. Before that, when the application seeking extension of Purohit’s police custody came up for hearing, the magistrate asked him if he had any complaint against the ATS. Purohit replied in the negative but said he wanted to submit something in writing. His lawyer Shrikant Shivade said his client had complained of physical and mental torture by the Mumbai ATS. He alleged that Purohit had been hanged upside down during the interrogation and severely tortured and repeatedly asked to make a confessional statement. Shivade said Purohit had written in his application that he had been falsely implicated in the Malegaon blast case because he had taken action against several terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. Purohit has also allegedly complained that during probe at the ATS office, the CBI and the Haryana police threatened to kill him in an encounter. He has also allegedly complained against an IB officer for threatening him with dire consequences.

The Times of India, November 22, 2008

Hyderabad cops share info with Maharashtra ATS

Mumbai: A Hyderabad police team, probing last year’s Mecca mosque blast case, met the state ATS personnel and exchanged information on the suspects arrested in connection with the September 29 Malegaon bomb blast.

According to ATS officials in Mumbai, this meeting was part of a routine excercise. Personnels of the Hyderabad police’s Organisation of Counter Terrorist Operations (OCTOPUS) and the Special Investigation Cell also exchanged information on the source of RDX and the conspiracy hatched by the members of a radical organisation, Abhinav Bharat.

The ATS in Maharashtra have so far arrested 10 persons in the Malegaon blast case. The accused include Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and self-proclaimed seer Dayanand Pandey. These suspects were earlier questioned by the Gujarat’s Modasa police and Haryana police for their alleged connection with the Samjhauta Express train blast.

The Hyderabad police could not interrogate the accused as most of them are in the judicial custody and court’s permission is required to interrogate them.

Two weeks ago, a sessions court in Hyderabad had acquitted Shoeb Jagirdar, Abdul Majeed, Imran Khan and Mohammed Kaleem—the four suspects in the Mecca mosque blast case. Three bombs had exploded on May 18, 2007 at Mecca mosque killing 14 people and injuring over 50 others. The police had arrested the four accused, and claimed to have cracked the case.


NARCO ON PANDEY:

Dayanand Pandey, an accused in Malegaon blast case, underwent narco analysis at the forensic science lab in Bangalore on Friday. He was subjected to the test for about four hours. Forensic officials are, however, yet to decide if Pandey would be subjected to other tests like polygraph and brain mapping.

The Times of India, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

MCOCA slapped on 10 Malegaon suspects

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Thursday invoked the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against the suspects in the September 29 Malegaon blast. The case, being heard by a Nashik chief judicial magistrate, will be shifted to a special MCOCA court in Mumbai.

MCOCA has also been applied to the suspects in the 7/11 serial train blasts case, the 2006 Malegaon cemetery blasts case and to the Indian Mujahideen module said to be behind the Ahmedabad serial blasts.

The 10 persons arrested in the latest Malegaon case, and those likely to be arrested in the same case, will now find it difficult to get bail before six months. Moreover, under this Act, a statement given before an officer of the rank of a deputy commissioner will be treated as evidence. The Act also gives the ATS an additional three months to file the chargesheet. TOI was the first to indicate that MCOCA would be invoked against the 10 suspects.


‘Malegaon accused face war against nation charge’

Mumbai:
The ATS, which has invoked the MCOCA against ten the accused in the Malegaon blast, had earlier asked its Parbhani and Jalna units to file chargesheets against Punebased weapon collector Rakesh Dhawade in the blast cases registered with them.

The Parbhani police had filed a chargesheet against Dhawade in connection with a five-year-old blast case outside a mosque while the Jalna police filed a chargesheet gainst him in connection with a similar case in 2004. Intrestingly, both the chargesheets were filed in less than 24 hours of each other.

The ATS invoked sections 3(1), (2) and (4) of the MCOCA for the suspects’ association with an organised crime syndicate. The minimum punishment under these sections is five years and it could extend up to life imprisonment. To invoke MCOCA, there should have been at least two chargesheets filed against any of the accused to establish that it was part of an organised crime syndicate. The accused were earlier booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Explosives Act and the UAPA.

Asked whether the Malegaon blast accused can be charged with waging war against the nation, a senior lawyer said: “The section covers any act meant to destabilise the country, even instigating a riot. The involvement of a foreign hand is not needed,’’ said a senior lawyer.

Meanwhile, ATS chief Hemant Karkare said on Thursday: “Since it is a sensitive case, we are doing our investigation professionally. We collected enough evidence against the accused and hence booked them under the MCOCA.’’ Six people were killed and 101 others were injured when a bomb planted on a bike exploded in central Malegaon on September 29 this year. Karkare added that the accused will be booked for ‘waging war against the nation’ at an appropriate time.

In the past, those arrested for blasts were booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota). The Maharashtra police started using the amended Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the MCOCA in terror-related cases after the Centre repealed Pota in 2005.

The ATS has so far arrested 10 persons, including sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a former member of the Durga Vahini that is a sister wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, serving lieutenant colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Kanpur-based Mahant Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey etc. The ATS also plans to arrest one Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who is currently in jail for using a fake ID in the cantonment area in Deolali, Nashik.

The conspiracy of the Malegaon blast was hatched by members of a Hindu fundamentalist group Abhinav Bharat. Purohit was one of the persons who started the group in February 2006, just seven months before the Malegaon blast that had killed 31. Purohit, who has been termed as the mastermind of the blast, has also been accused of procuring the RDX. The Lt Col is said to have pilfered 60 kg of RDX from a military cantonment. “We had got this information from a witness and the verification is still on,’’ said Karkare.

“The accused’s movements have been in a couple of states and we are in the process of verifying everything. We have got sufficient evidence against them and are satisfied with our investigation,’’ added Karkare.

Asked if he was under any political pressure since a party has alleged that the ATS is biased and the probe be handed over to the CBI, Karkare said: “We are not answerable to any agency. We will submit our report to the court and are doing the investigation professionally.’’ Moreover, the CBI is planning to book Dhawade for the Nanded blast in which two Bajrang Dal members died when making a bomb on April 6, 2006.


PM, LK discuss sadhvi:

New Delhi: BJP leader L K Advani forcefully took up Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s case when PM Manmohan Singh called him to offer details of the probe that led to her arrest in the Malegaon blast case. Singh called up on Tuesday, soon after Advani slammed the “barbaric treatment’’ of the sadhvi by the Maharashtra ATS.


SAINIK MOVES HC AGAINST ATS FOR ABUSE OF SADHVI:

AShiv Sena member has filed a public interest litigation before the Bombay high court seeking action against the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) for the alleged ill-treatment of sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. He has demanded a judicial inquiry into the ATS’ role and a transfer of the probe into the Malegaon blasts to the state CID.

Shilpa Deshmukh, secretary of the Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Sena, has alleged that ATS is the “most untrustworthy’’ unit in the state police department for having made false and baseless allegations against the sadhvi and Lt Col Prasad Purohit who is a suspect in the blast case. Deshmukh, whose lawyer is V P Patil, said her conclusions are based on media coverage of the blast probe. She also claims that she’s in possession of an affidavit filed by the sadhvi before the Nashik court in which she has accused the ATS of custodial torture. The petition contends that the narco-analysis conducted on the stamp scam accused A K L Telgi had revealed the names of many political leaders. TNN
The Times of India, November 21, 2008

No torture of accused: ATS

Mateen Hafeez I TNN


Mumbai: Denying allegations that Malegaon blast suspects were subjected to thirddegree treatment, ATS chief Hemant Karkare termed the charges “false and baseless’’ on Thursday.

“Arrested Lt Col Purohit, whose family had alleged that he was tortured in custody, heard him in the court say he was not abused. Purohit told the Nashik court that he did not have any problem in our custody,’’ said Karkare. Another accused M S Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey had complained about custodial torture by the ATS. But the court did not find any “visible” injuries on Pandey.

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon case, has filed an affidavit in the court, alleging that she was tortured so much that she wanted to commit suicide. She also demanded a narco analysis on the officers to establish the truth. “Her charges are false and baseless. We will reply to the allegations in court,’’ said Karkare.

When asked if he had any pressure from any political party while probing the blast case, the ATS chief said, “Absolutely zero pressure. We are answerable only to court. The arrests are based on evidence and verification ,’’ he said.


2006 CASE UNDER SCANNER:

Cops are looking at a twoyear-old case, in which a 195-kg mix of RDX and TNT was seized from an Ahmednagar scrap-dealer’s shop, for a possible lead in the Malegaon blast case. The huge quantity of explosives —stolen from a military cantonment—was recovered from Shankar Shelke’s shop on September 4, 2006. The textile town was rocked by serial blasts only four days later and Shelke committed suicide the very next day. Lt Col Prasad Purohit is suspected to have pilfered RDX from military stores that has been used in this year’s Malegaon blast.

The Times of India, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another accused reveals Muslims assembled bomb

Sudhakar Chaturvedi Takes Narco Test In Malegaon Case

Pranati Mehra and Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Sudhakar Chaturvedi, Abhinav Bharat national coordinator who allegedly participated in the Malegaon blast conspiracy, revealed during a narco-analysis on Tuesday that that some Muslim boys had assembled the bomb that was planted near the Simi office in Malegaon on September 29. The blast killed six persons.

Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, Major (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay and one Sudhakar Dange “inspected’’ the assembling of the bomb by the Muslim boys, Chaturvedi said during the test in Bangalore, probe officials told TOI on Wednesday. Purohit and Upadhyay are in ATS custody and Chaturvedi is likely to be in ATS custody by Thursday.

The Muslim boys took the bomb to Malegaon along with Ramji — an accused the ATS is yet to find — and planted it near the Simi office with Ramji’s help, Chaturvedi is learnt to have said. Officials told TOI that he also said Ramji had brought the LML Freedom two-wheeler to Malegaon. The two-wheeler was owned by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and led the ATS to the Sadhvi. The Sadhvi claimed in her affidavit before the Nashik court on Monday that she sold it in 2004 to a man named Sunil Joshi for Rs 24,000.

So, if the narco tests claims are to be believed, the ATS now has to establish the link between Joshi and Ramji. Purohit had also said in his narco test on November 12 that some Malegaon Muslims had prepared the bomb and that the RDX was sourced from some Kashmiri Muslims in Pune.

The 37-year-old Chaturvedi was arrested by the Matunga police on November 4 on charges of carrying an illegal revolver and possessing a fake Deolali military cantonment identity card.

He was subjected to narco-analysis on Tuesday in Bangalore and, during the test, told forensic experts that he had arranged several meetings of Abhinav Bharat members at Indore, Panchmarhi and Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Faridabad and other places in Haryana and Gujarat as well as Deolali. The ATS, probing the September 29 Malegaon blast, suspects that the blast conspiracy was hatched in these meetings.

Chaturvedi has also reportedly revealed that some businessmen in Maharashtra were funding Abhinav Bharat. “But they may not have known what the money was being spent for,’’ Chaturvedi is learnt to have said.

Purohit, too, was on Wednesday subjected to brain-mapping and polygraph tests at the Kalina forensic laboratory. The ATS has so far arrested 10 persons, including Purohit, Major (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Mahant Dayanand Pandey, for their alleged role in the blast that killed six persons. The ATS has claimed that Purohit masterminded the Malegaon blast and procured RDX to assemble the bomb.

“Chaturvedi has admitted Purohit gave him the unlicensed revolver and also prepared a fake ID for his entry into the Deolali cantonment area. The ATS had given an application in the Kurla court, seeking Chaturvedi’s custody,’’ Matunga police station senior inspector Sunil Deshmukh said. Deshmukh said Chaturvedi used to work for Abhinav Bharat on a monthly salary of Rs 5,000.

“Chaturvedi’s basic job was to arrange meetings and inform all the members about it. He also used to raise funds for the organisation,’’ Deshmukh said.

Chaturvedi comes from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh. He migrated to Maharashtra 10 years ago and was staying in a rented room in a chawl at Deolali. Chaturvedi had also visited the Bhonsale Military School in Nashik to attend a personality development camp. That is when Purohit introduced him to Major Upadhay. The Matunga police may also book Purohit for possessing unlicensed firearms and providing Chaturvedi a fake military ID.

The Times of India, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another armyman’s statement recorded

Nitasha Natu & Mateen Hafeez I TNN


Mumbai/Nashik: The antiterrorism squad (ATS) investigating the recent Malegaon blast has recorded the statement of arrested Lt Col Shrikant Purohit’s colleague Captain Nitin Joshi who reportedly said Purohit had told him about pilfering RDX.

A source said the statement was recorded by the magistrate which makes it admissible as evidence during trial. DGP A N Roy told TOI, “As the statement is not incriminating Joshi himself, it needs to be verified.’’ Roy refused to disclose details about Joshi’s background and posting, saying he was a witness and not an accused.

Purohit was handed over to the Pune ATS on Tuesday. Termed the mastermind of the Malegaon blast, Purohit was produced before chief judicial magistrate H K Gantra in Nashik. The Pune ATS sought his custody to investigate a case of forgery and cheating.

Arrested on November 5, the 38-year-old serving officer, earlier accused of acting as a middleman in collecting and distributing money for terror activities, was brought to court amid tight security at 3.45 pm. Wearing a blue T-shirt and a black pair of jeans, Purohit did not complain when Joint Civil Judge H K Ganatra asked him if he had anything to say against the ATS.

Defence lawyer Avinash Bhide argued that Purohit had already been under illegal detention earlier and since the Mumbai ATS was done with its interrogation in connection with the Malegaon case, there was no reason to hand him over to the Pune ATS for the same case. Pointing out that this way, Purohit’s police custody would never end, the defence lawyer said in the absence of a designated court, the interim court should not pass the order of handing the accused over to the Pune ATS. However, Purohit is likely to be produced in a Pune court on Wednesday. He is also accused of attending several meetings where the blast conspiracy was suspected to have been hatched.

Another Malegaon accused Sameer Kulkarni, who is in judicial custody till November 29, was shifted to the Khadki police station in Pune as a case of assault on a pastor is pending against him there.

Alleging violation of human rights during the questioning of blast accused, Advocate V Gaikwad moved an application in the Nashik court, seeking examination of case papers.


NARCO TEST ON PANDEY:

Sudhakar Chaturvedi alias Dayanand Pandey, the main accused in the Malegaon blast case, underwent narco analysis in Bangalore on Tuesday. The questionnaire was prepared based on the confessions of accused Chaturvedi, sadhvi Pragya and the narco results of Lt Col Purohit.
(Inputs from Santosh Sonawane)

Eight-hour interrogation led to speedy chargesheet

Mateen Hafeez I TNN


Jalna: It took only eight hours for the Jalna crime branch to question antique weapons collector Rakesh Dhawade and file a 56-page chargesheet for his role in the blast there on August 27, 2004.

Dhawade is also an accused in the Malegaon explosion case. Inspector Subhash Joshi of the Jalna crime branch told TOI that they were informed about Dhawade’s role in the Jalna blast by ATS. The chargesheet was filed by the crime branch with the assistance of the Jalna unit of the ATS.

Dhawade was taken to Jalna on November 15. “We questioned him from 8 am to 4 pm on Saturday and filed a chargesheet an hour later,’’ said Joshi. Asked how did the police compile 56 pages and complete its investigation of a blast case, Joshi said, “We had already recorded and verified the statements of witnesses in Pune and had completed all the formalities to file the chargesheet. We recorded Dhawade’s statement and clubbed it in.’’

Joshi said Dhawade participated in a terror camp where seven to eight youths were trained. They were also picked up for the Nanded, Parbhani, Purna and Jalna blasts. “There are several pieces of information that we cannot reveal now,’’ he said. The Jalna police said they did not want to keep Dhawade “unnecessarily’’ in their custody. “I can’t tell you why we filed the chargesheet in a day. You ask our seniors,’’ said Joshi.

In 2004,Sanjay Chaudhri and Himanshu Panse had hurled a bomb inside the Qadriya mosque in Jalna during Friday prayer, the police said. Panse was killed in 2006 while assembling a bomb in Nanded. During a narco test, Chaudhri, who was arrested for the Nanded blast, admitted to his role in the Parbhani, Purna and Jalna explosions.

The Times of India, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sadhvi cries torture by ATS, wants to end life

Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Nashik: Making a dramatic appearance in her sadhvi attire at the Nashik court on Monday, Malegaon blast accused Pragya Singh Thakur claimed that she had been abused physically and mentally by her interrogators. She claimed her trauma was so great that she wanted to commit suicide. At the same time, she wanted the ATS officers who had tortured her to undergo narco and lie detector tests to reveal the facts of the case.

Thakur’s affidavit was filed in the court of chief judicial magistrate H K Gantra in Nashik on Monday. Eight persons suspected to be involved in the September 29 Malegaon bomb blast case—Thakur, Rakesh Dhawade, Ajay Rahir-kar, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Shamlal Sahu, Shivnarayan Singh, Jagdish Mhatre and Sameer Kulkarni—were produced in court and remanded to judicial custody until November 29.

While the faces of all the seven male accused were covered with burkhas, Pragya appeared clothed in saffron. She had also applied vermillion on her forehead. She told the court that she was abused and tortured physically and mentally.

Thakur’s lawyer Umesh Walzade filed the affidavit on her behalf. It stated that during her “illegal detention’’ at the ATS headquarters in Kalachowkie, Mumbai, she was beaten up both during daytime and at night. “On two occasions I was even woken up in the early hours of the morning and questioned about my knowledge of the Malegaon blast. I was beaten by a senior officer who sports a moustache and whom I can identify. I was subjected to vulgar abuse and obscene language by members of the ATS. My guru was abused and my chastity was questioned. I was physically and verbally traumatised to the extent that I wanted to commit suicide.’’


Disciple was asked to beat up sadhvi: Counsel

Nashik: Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur has filed an affidavit in the Nashik court accusing the ATS of torturing her. The affidavit further stated that in the first week of October, the ATS summoned her from an ashram in Jabalpur to Surat for questioning. On October 10, Thakur arrived in Surat where at the railway station she was received by her disciple, Bhimbhai Pasricha.

According to the sadhvi’s affidavit, both of them were taken to Rajdoot hotel in Nagpada in Mumbai the following day and she was asked to sign the entry register. “I was also forced to make some phone calls from my mobile phone (9406600004) to my friends and a female disciple just to inform them that I was alright and staying in a Mumbai hotel,’’ the affidavit said.

“As a result of custodial violence/torture, mental stress and anxiety I developed acute abdominal and kidney pains. I was then admitted to the ICU at Shusrusha Hospital and later shifted to another hospital. I was also subjected to a polygraph test illegally prior to my formal arrest,’’ the affidavit stated.

“Pasricha was asked to beat up Pragya with a stick and belt on her palm, forehands and soles. When he refused, he was beaten up by the ATS officers. Later he beat her reluctantly. An officer (Arun) Khanvilkar had beaten up Pragya and abused her while in custody,’’ said Pragya’s counsel Ganesh Sovani, adding, “The officers who beat her up should be subjected to narco analysis and polygraph tests to establish the truth.’’ Meanwhile, during the hearing on Monday, Pragya, who has done her Masters in history, told the court that she did not understand English and that the affidavit be read out for her in Hindi.

Major Upadhyay, another accused in the blast case, complained to the court that he had tried to send three letters to his friends for legal help but the jail authorities did not forward them because they were instructed against doing so by the ATS. “When our relatives come to the court, the jail authorities ask for identity cards issued by the ATS. Moreover, we are not being provided with basic amenities in the jail like soap and suchlike,’’ Upadhyay told the court.

The court will hear the case on November 29. The hearing, which on an earlier occasion was conducted during the afternoon session, was conducted in the morning on Monday and therefore Ajay Rahirkar’s lawyers could not appear in court since they were on their way to Nashik from Pune. The court said that in future all hearings in this case would be conducted in the post-lunch session.

Two of Pragya’s sisters were also present in the courtroom. Her relatives moved an application before the court alleging they were not allowed to meet her in jail. The court passed an order that they could meet her when they visited the jail. Meanwhile, about 500 Shiv Sena members from Nashik protested outside the court.

An application of the Gujarat police, seeking permission to interrogate all eight accused in jail custody in connection with the Modasa blast was rejected by the Nashik court, which instructed the applicant to take permission from a Gujarat court and then go to the Nashik jail to interrogate the accused.

The Times of India, November 18, 2008

Arms collector chargesheeted in less than 24 hrs

Mateen Hafeez I TNN


Nashik: In a record of sorts, the Jalna unit of the ATS has procured the custody of a blast accused and submitted a chargesheet against him in less than 24 hours. The move may be an attempt to invoke MCOCA.

Rakesh Dhawade, a weapons collector from Pune, has been accused of training members of Bajrang Dal, some of whom carried out a bomb blast outside the Qadriya mosque in Jalna on August 27, 2004, injuring three persons. The Sadar Bazaar police had earlier chargesheeted five persons in connection with the blast.

Dhawade’s name cropped up during the ATS investigation into the latest Malegaon blast case. On Friday, the Jalna ATS moved the court of chief judicial magistrate K H Gantra in Nashik, seeking Dhawade’s custody. Public prosecutor Ajay Misar told the court that they suspected the role of Dhawade in the Jalna blasts. Defence counsel Dharmendra Chavan, however, argued that his client’s name was not even mentioned in the FIR.

The court granted Dhawade’s custody to the Jalna ATS in the postlunch session. It takes at least six hours to reach Jalna from Nashik. Thus, the police hardly got a few hours to question him. The next day, the police chargesheeted him.

Superintendent of police Jalna, Sandeep Karnik, on Monday told TOI, that the chargesheet was submitted the next day itself due to “security reasons’’. He refused to elaborate, saying he was busy.

Advocate Mubin Solkar, who is representing several accused in the July 7, 2006 bomb blasts, said, “This does not happen and that too in a terror case. The prosecution always wants to question the accused and gather evidence. They even insist on confronting the accused with others booked in the case. The prosecution also tries to get a confession which they could use during the trial.’’

Sources said this was an attempt to invoke MCOCA in the latest Malegaon blast case. The Parbhani police had also filed a chargesheet against Dhawade on Friday for his involvement in the Parbhani bomb blasts of 2003. To invoke MCOCA, there should have been at least two chargesheets filed against any of the accused to establish that it was part of an organised crime syndicate.

Dhawade, arrested on October 29, has been dubbed by the ATS as the fundraiser of the terror module.

Two of the other accused, Jagdish Mhatre and Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, also had cases registered against them in the past but for less serious offences.

The Times of India, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

RDX not used in Samjhauta blast: ATS

Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai/Nashik: Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad on Sunday denied that the 60 kg of RDX that Lt Col Prasad Purohit had pilfered was used in the Samjhauta Express blast in February last year. Public prosecutor Ajay Misar, representing the ATS in the Malegaon blast case, had on Saturday told a Nashik court that the pilfered RDX was used in the Samjhauta blast case.

However, on Sunday, he blamed the media. “I told the court that the police have to find out whether the 60 kg RDX was used in some blasts, including in Malegaon. My sentence has wrongly been interpreted by some newspapers,’’ he said.

“I don’t know what Misar told the court. We have not mentioned the use of RDX (in the Samjhauta case) in the remand papers,’’ATS chief Hemant Karkare told TOI.

The Times of India, November 17, 2008

Pandey’s narco-test in B’lore

Mateen Hafeez I TNN


Mumbai/Nashik: Public prosecutor Ajay Misar, who is representing ATS in the Malegaon case, on Sunday blamed the media for wrong interpretation of his remark in the court even as ATS disowned his statements regarding the use of RDX in the Samjhauta blast.

The forensic analysis report of the Samjhauta blast, which claimed around 70 lives, had said that the material used in the blast was a highly flammable cocktail of fuel oils, potassium chlorate and sulphur.

Misar told the court on Saturday that Purohit (39) had handed over 60 kg RDX to one person identified as Bhagwan who used it for the Samjhauta blast. “A witness told us that Purohit had 60 kg RDX in his possession while posted in Deolali, Nashik. He had to deposit the explosive at the army’s artillery department in Jammu and Kashmir. However, Purohit told our witness that he had not deposited the explosive with the army and instead told them that he had threw it into the Jhelum river in J&K. He later gave the RDX to a person named Bhagwan who used it in the Samjhauta train blast,’’ Misar had told chief judicial magistrate H K Gantra while seeking an extension in Purohit’s police custody. Misar also did not clarify whether the Army conducted any internal probe after the 60kg RDX went missing.

Karkare stated that the ATS was not probing the Samjhauta blast case. “We are not probing the Samjhauta blast case and if the ATS gets some clue about the perpetrators, we will inform the concerned investigating agency. We are going strictly by the evidence in this case,’’ said Karkare. “We got an independent witness who provided information about the training for youths by the Malegaon blast accused. We verified it and got three more witnesses,’’ added Karkare.

It is learnt that two arrested accused, Shamlal Sahu and Shivnarayan Kalangasara Singh, will be subjected to psychological profiling at the forensic science laboratory next week. The ATS had asked the Kalina forensic lab to subject arrested self-proclaimed seer, Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey, to a narco analysis test but since the Mumbai FSL at Kalina is overburdened, it could not give an appointment. The ATS has now approached the Bangalore FSL to conduct Pandey’s narco test.

The Times of India, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Purohit got 60 kg RDX, helped in Samjhauta blasts, says ATS

Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Nashik: Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, the first serving army officer to be arrested on terror charges, was not only the mastermind of the Malegaon blast but had orchestrated last year’s terror attack on the Samjhauta Express to Pakistan, using 60 kg of RDX stolen from an artillery base, a court was told on Saturday.

Nearly 70 people, mostly Pakistanis, were killed in the train attack. TOI had reported on Friday that a Haryana team had reached Mumbai to quiz the trio for their possible links with the Samjhauta attack.

Ajay Misar, the public prosecutor in the Malegaon case, told a Nashik court that Purohit had supplied the RDX that went into the bombs planted on the Samjhauta Express that went off as the train approached Panipat. Purohit was produced in CJM H K Gantra’s court at 3.35 pm and was sent to police custody until November 18.


Purohit an expert in handling RDX’

Nashik: Public prosecutor in the Malegaon blast case Ajay Misar on Saturday told a Nashik court that Lt Col P S Purohit had a role in the Samjhauta Express blast too. “A witness told us that Purohit had 60 kg of RDX in his possession when he was posted at Deolali, Nashik. He had to deposit it in the army’s artillery department in Jammu and Kashmir but Purohit told our witness that he did not do that. He, instead, gave it to a person named Bhagwan who used it in the Samjhauta Express blast,’’ Misar said. Bhagwan is yet to be traced. Police officers say Purohit is an expert in handling RDX and other munitions.

The blasts occurred on the New Delhi-Wagah Samjhauta Express just before midnight on February 20, 2007.

Investigations revealed that Purohit had told the witness about the RDX in March/April this year, Misar said. Misar, however, did not disclose the identity of the witness.

Purohit has been arrested for murder and conspiring in connection with the September 29 Malegaon blast. “Purohit is the mastermind in the Malegaon blast. We have to find out if he had any role in the other blasts across the country,’’ Misar said. The public prosecutor said Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey, the self-styled seer, had arranged a meeting between the officer and another co-accused, Ramji, just before the Malegaon blast. “We have to confront Purohit and Pandey about this,’’ Misar said, citing grounds for extending Purohit’s police custody.

The public prosecutor said, “The fund-raiser for this module, Ajay Rahirkar, had transferred a huge amount to Purohit. We want to know the source of the money and why it was given to Purohit. Rahirkar had also paid Rs 3.95 lakh to Purohit in December 2007. We are yet to establish how this money was used and where it came from.’’ Police are also probing his role in a Rs 10 lakh hawala transaction. Rahikar was the treasurer of the Abhinav Bharat group with which all the accused, including sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, are linked.

The ATS is now hunting for a Nashik-based builder. “Rahirkar paid Rs 2.5 lakh to a builder. The connection between the builder and the arrested accused is still to be established,’’ Misar said.

Purohit appeared nervous in court. “The police have not mentioned anything about the RDX and the source of information in the remand copy. My client has been in police custody for 11 days and, therefore, it should not be extended,’’ Purohit’s defence lawyer Avinash Bhide said, pleading for judicial custody.


Only 27 kg RDX used in ’93 blasts

Security agencies will be spending sleepless nights if the ATS claim that Lt Col Prasad Purohit had 60 kg of RDX is true, reports Kartikeya. For, the destructive power of such a huge quantity of RDX is awesome, say explosives experts. The amount mentioned in the Nashik court was more than double that used to maim Mumbai in 1993. Only 27 kg were used in the first serial blasts that struck Mumbai and that was enough to leave 257 people dead and many buildings damaged. (P 6)

The Times of India, November 16, 2008

Public prosecutor gets threat call

Caller Threatens ATS Chief As Well; Purohit Denies Torture In Cop Custody


Mateen Hafeez I TNN


Nashik: The public prosecutor in the Malegaon blast case, Ajay Misar, got a threat call on his mobile a few minutes before the hearing was to begin in a Nashik court on Saturday afternoon. The unidentified caller also threatened Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare.

Misar, who was in the court of chief judicial magistrate H K Gantra for the blast case hearing, received the call at 2.56 pm. The unidentified caller told him the consequences would be severe if he appeared in the case. Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, the first serving army officer to be arrested for the September blast, was brought to the court after this call.

“Misar received a threat call on his mobile. The call was made from a landline number and the crime branch is probing this case,’’ Nashik police commissioner Himanshu Roy told TOI. He added that the caller also threatened ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who already has Z-category security and it was reviewed after the call.

Misar said the conspiracy was hatched in several confidential meetings by the members of radical Hindu organisation Abhinav Bharat. Several Hindu groups have already asked the state to desist from arresting religious leaders and there would be nation-wide protests if they did not stop.

In another interesting development, Purohit told the court on Saturday that he had not been tortured in police custody. His father-in-law, Vilas Dalvi, filed an application on October 12 in the Nashik court, alleging that Purohit had been beaten up in custody and had sustained injuries on his fingers. Misar on Saturday told the court that Purohit had injured his fingers when he was posted in J&K in 2001.

The police also produced a report, denying that Purohit had been detained illegally. His relatives had calimed he was detained illegally for almost six days prior to his arrest. “We are submitting a record of getting his custody from the army and producing him in court the same day,’’ Misar said.

Meanwhile, responding to charges that Hindu religious leaders were being targeted in the case, DGP A N Roy said, “Every arrest is backed by strong evidence. Political parties should allow us to probe without making such statements”.


16 KG OF RDX BLEW UP TRAINS IN 2006

The serial blasts on Mumbai’s trains in July 2006 also used a fourth of the amount that Purohit allegedly possessed. Only 15 kg of RDX were needed to blow up seven suburban trains, kill over 188 people and stop Mumbai in its tracks. Yet again in 2006, attackers smuggled less than 5 kg of RDX to Malegaon to carry out blasts that left 38 people dead. But during the recent carnage in Assam, terrorists used about 80 kg.

RDX is a powerful explosive also known as cyclonite and hexogen. It was widely used in World War II as the chief explosive charge in bombs and is still an important military explosive as it is more powerful than TNT. The firepower of RDX has been enhanced in recent times by turning it into a plastic explosive called C-4—RDX makes up 91% of C-4 with the rest consisting of plastic binders that make the explosive highly stable. A major advantage of C-4 is that it can be moulded into any shape and can be pressed into gaps, cracks and voids in buildings, bridges, equipment or machinery. Barely a few hundred grams of C-4 is enough to kill several people in a large area like a conference room or a cinema hall. — Kartikeya

The Times of India, November 16, 2008

Purohit got 60 kg RDX, helped in Samjhauta blasts, says ATS

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Nashik: Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, the first serving army officer to be arrested on terror charges, was not only the mastermind of the Malegaon blast but had orchestrated last year’s terror attack on the Samjhauta Express to Pakistan, using 60 kg of RDX stolen from an artillery base, a court was told on Saturday.

Nearly 70 people, mostly Pakistanis, were killed in the train attack. TOI had reported on Friday that a Haryana team had reached Mumbai to quiz the trio for their possible links with the Samjhauta attack.

Ajay Misar, the public prosecutor in the Malegaon case, told a Nashik court that Purohit had supplied the RDX that went into the bombs planted on the Samjhauta Express that went off as the train approached Panipat. Purohit was produced in CJM H K Gantra’s court at 3.35 pm and was sent to police custody until November 18.

Purohit an expert in handling RDX’ Nashik:
Public prosecutor in the Malegaon blast case Ajay Misar on Saturday told a Nashik court that Lt Col P S Purohit had a role in the Samjhauta Express blast too. “A witness told us that Purohit had 60 kg of RDX in his possession when he was posted at Deolali, Nashik. He had to deposit it in the army’s artillery department in Jammu and Kashmir but Purohit told our witness that he did not do that. He, instead, gave it to a person named Bhagwan who used it in the Samjhauta Express blast,’’ Misar said. Bhagwan is yet to be traced.

Police officers say Purohit is an expert in handling RDX and other munitions. The blasts occurred on the New Delhi-Wagah Samjhauta Express just before midnight on February 20, 2007. Investigations revealed that Purohit had told the witness about the RDX in March/April this year, Misar said. Misar, however, did not disclose the identity of the witness.

Purohit has been arrested for murder and conspiring in connection with the September 29 Malegaon blast. “Purohit is the mastermind in the Malegaon blast. We have to find out if he had any role in the other blasts across the country,’’ Misar said. The public prosecutor said Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey, the self-styled seer, had arranged a meeting between the officer and another co-accused, Ramji, just before the Malegaon blast. “We have to confront Purohit and Pandey about this,’’ Misar said, citing grounds for extending Purohit’s police custody.

The public prosecutor said, “The fund-raiser for this module, Ajay Rahirkar, had transferred a huge amount to Purohit. We want to know the source of the money and why it was given to Purohit. Rahirkar had also paid Rs 3.95 lakh to Purohit in December 2007. We are yet to establish how this money was used and where it came from.’’ Police are also probing his role in a Rs 10 lakh hawala transaction. Rahikar was the treasurer of the Abhinav Bharat group with which all the accused, including sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, are linked.

The ATS is now hunting for a Nashik-based builder. “Rahirkar paid Rs 2.5 lakh to a builder. The connection between the builder and the arrested accused is still to be established,’’ Misar said. Purohit appeared nervous in court. “The police have not mentioned anything about the RDX and the source of information in the remand copy. My client has been in police custody for 11 days and, therefore, it should not be extended,’’ Purohit’s defence lawyer Avinash Bhide said, pleading for judicial custody.

Only 27 kg RDX used in ’93 blasts:
Security agencies will be spending sleepless nights if the ATS claim that Lt Col Prasad Purohit had 60 kg of RDX is true, reports Kartikeya. For, the destructive power of such a huge quantity of RDX is awesome, say explosives experts. The amount mentioned in the Nashik court was more than double that used to maim Mumbai in 1993. Only 27 kg were used in the first serial blasts that struck Mumbai and that was enough to leave 257 people dead and many buildings damaged. P 6

The Times of India, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

‘Swami’ asked Lt Col to obtain explosives: Cops

Mateen Hafeez TNN
Nashik:
Self-proclaimed seer Dayanand Pandey alias Sudhakar Dwivedi had directed Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit to arrange for the explosives used in the Malegaon blast on September 29. Pandey had also arranged a meeting between Purohit, now under arrest, and Ramji, a wanted accused in the case, in August, a month before the Malegaon blast, public prosecutor Ajay Misar told a Nashik court on Friday.

Pandey alias Swami Amritanand Dev Teerth Maharaj was arrested from Kanpur on Thursday for his alleged role in the Malegaon blast in which six persons were killed and 101 injured. He was produced before chief judicial magistrate H K Gantra who remanded him in police custody until November 26. The court also granted permission for Pandey to be subjected to narco analysis, brain-mapping and polygraph tests after he said that he was ready to undergo any tests.

“During their investigations, the police found that Pandey had directed Purohit to arrange for explosives,’’ Misar told the court. The police have alleged that Purohit, an army officer, was involved in the conspiracy of the Malegaon bomb blast. He is the first serving officer to be arrested in this case. So far, the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) has arrested ten persons including retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay and sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. He is believed to have told ATS sleuths that he had joined the Air Force wing of the NDA in 1989 but had dropped out in 1990.

The police claim to have recovered a boarding pass of Kingfisher Airlines, a cheque book,a pass book,an ATM card, a debit card, a passport and a pen drive from Pandey. They are also examining the contents of the pen drive. The bank account details, the police said, would help them to ascertain Pandey’s financial transactions.

Pandey was brought to the court at 3.40 pm under heavy police bandobast. Wearing a khadi kurta and a lungi,his face covered with a black burqa, he spoke in fluent Hindi in court. Pandey appeared agitated and said his name was not Pandey but Sudhakar Dwivedi.

The public prosecutor stated in the court that Pandey had attended several ‘confidential meetings’ conducted on April 12 this year in Bhopal and another meeting on January 26 in an ashram in Faridabad. “Pandey also attended an important meeting prior to the Malegaon blast in Pune,’’ Misar said. According to the police, the conspiracy for the Malegaon blast was hatched at these meetings conducted in several parts of the country. “Pandey had arranged a meeting between Purohit and the prime accused, Ramji,in August this year,’’said the public prosecutor.

‘Swami’ was in constant touch with Pragya: Cops

Nashik: Self-proclaimed seer Dayanand Pandey, who was remanded to police custody till November 26, had arranged a meeting between Lt Colonel Purohit and the prime accused, Ramji, for the Malegaon blast, the police said.

“We want to know Ramji’s exact role in planting the bomb. The arrest of Ramji and another wanted accused Sameer Dange will help in the investigation. We have to locate Ramji for which we want Pandey’s police custody. We also want to find out if Pandey had any role to play in other blasts across the country,’’ added the public prosecutor.

Pandey was also in constant touch with sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who is now in judicial custody. Her motorbike was used to plant the bomb. The ATS has claimed to have in its possession details of the telephone conversations between Ramji and Pragya in which she allegedly asks him why only a few people died in the Malegaon blast.

On the funding of the terror strike in Malegaon and other money transactions, Misar said, “Ajay Rahirkar, treasurer of the Abhinav Bharat outfit, had given a huge amount of money to Pandey and we want to establish whether it was used to procure the RDX, explosives and timers used in the blast.’’ The police claim to have recovered two unused timers from the other accused, Shamlal Sahu and Shivnarayan Singh.

The ATS had earlier said that three accused, now in police custody, were fund raisers and had collected the money which was used in the Malegaon terror strike. They said Rs 10 lakh was sourced for the blast while another Rs 10 lakh distributed via the hawala route was also being probed.

The court provided legal assistance to Pandey by getting Balu More to appear for him. “There is no evidence of meetings. No money was transferred to my client’s account. My client had no role to play in the blast and hence he be not sent to police custody,’’ said More. Another lawyer, Kishore Vij, also assisted More in defending Pandey. The two lawyers said that they were part of a legal cell formed for the Malegaon blast accused and that hiring a lawyer was the right of every accused person. However, an agitated Misar said in court that there was no provision in the law to form a legal cell for a specific case.

‘Explain narco’
Pandey told the court that he had heard about narco tests but didn’t know what such a test entailed. He asked the court to explain it to him first before he gave his consent for undergoing the test. The court granted the permission only after Pandey’s lawyer, Balu More, elaborated on how a truth serum is used during the test.

PLOT TO KILL HINDU LEADER
The ATS on Friday revealed that the Malegaon blast accused had plotted to kill a Delhi-based Hindu leader. Also, Lt Col Purohit (left) has admitted to having procured the RDX from Pune-based Muslim activists using his own network. P 5

‘ASSERTING HINDU BRAWN’
Lt Col Purohit reportedly said during his narco analysis that he had planned the Malegaon blast to prove that “Hindus are not weak’’. He is said to have broken down and claimed that he was an honest officer but had been influenced by a spiritual mentor from Abhinav Bharat. P 13

The Times of India, November 15, 2008

Jalna police get custody of Dhawde

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Nashik: Rakesh Dhawde (45), a Pune-based arms collector, who was arrested on November 5 for the September 29 Malegoan blast, has now been sent to the custody of Jalna police in connection with the 2004 blast outside a mosque in the Marathwada region.

Dhawde, who was a consultant for the Aamir Khan-starrer The Rising (Mangal Pandey),was arrested along with Ajay Rahirkar and Jagdish Mhatre. The trio was accused of conspiring for the Malegaon blast in which six were killed. The Jalna police wanted to question Dhawde in connection with a November 2004 terror case in which two unidentified persons had hurled a bomb outside the Qadriya mosque in Jalna. Several people were injured in the blast. “The Jalna police suspect that Dhawde played an important role in the blast and organised terror training camps for the accused. They want to question him to establish his exact role,’’ public prosecutor Ajay Misar told a Nashik court. The case was being heard in the court of chief judicial magistrate, H K Gantra, in Nashik.

On November 13, Dhawde was sent to the custody of Parbhani police in connection with the November 2003 blast outside the Mohammdiya mosque. Two unidentified bikers had hurled a bomb outside the mosque in the month of Ramzan and fled from there. Though no one died, several devotees who were returning from the mosque sustained injuries. The ATS, which investigated the case earlier, had arrested Sanjay Chaudhri, a Bajrang Dal office-bearer from Nanded, in connection with the Jalna and Parbhani blasts. Chaudhri, during his narco test, had revealed that all the accused in Parbhani and Jalna blasts were trained in assembling bombs and operating firearms.

“The police interrogated Dhawde and filed a chargesheet against him. Now, we want to transfer his custody to the Jalna police in connection with the Qadriya mosque blast case to ascertain his role,’’ Misar told the court. Dhawde’s lawyer, Dharmendra Chavan, objected to his handing over to the Jalna police. His name is not in the FIR or the case files. “There is an allegation against my client that he arranged a training camp in Sinhgad, Pune, for youths to make bombs and operate firearms and arranged for the transport of weapons. But where is the evidence against him?’’ said Chavan.

However, the judge said the transfer of custody was in the jurisdiction of two courts and granted permission to hand over Dhawde to the Jalna police.

The Times of India, November 15, 2008

I have been beaten up by ATS: Pandey

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Nashik: Dayanand Pandey, alias Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Swami Amritanand Dev Teerth Maharaj, the self-styled seer arrested from Kanpur for his alleged role in the Malegaon blast, on Friday told a Nashik court that his life was in danger and that ATS officials were using third degree methods to torture him in custody.

“I am in trouble since the police brought me to Mumbai on Thursday. I have been beaten up badly and the police used third degree torture on me,’’ Pandey told chief judicial magistrate H K Gantra on Friday. Pandey is the first accused in this case to complain about police torture in court.

When the judge asked Pandey if he had any complaint or faced any problem in custody, Pandey replied in Hindi, “Jab se mujhe pakda hai, mein problem mein houn.’’ He further told the police that he had not eaten anything since his arrest. When the judge asked him if his injuries were visible, Pandey said nervously, “The police had used some method while torturing me. There is no visible injuries on my body. I pray, please don’t send me to ATS custody. You may send me to the custody of any other agency but please don’t send me to ATS custody.’’

Gantra then asked Pandey to come to his chamber to examine if he had any “visible injury mark’’ on his body. The judge returned after five minutes from his chamber and remanded Pandey to police custody till November 26. The public prosecutor, Ajay Misar, also submitted Mumbai’s KEM Hospital’s medical examination report along with an X-ray stating that Pandey was all right.

Pandey (40), the 10th accused to be arrested in the Malegaon blast case, is a resident of UP. He had first tried to establish himself in Kanpur. He then shifted to Varanasi and later to Jammu, where he floated the Sarvagyapeeth. The original Sarvagyapeeth is in Pakistanoccupied Kashmir and investigators believe Pandey opened the peeth in Jammu on his own.

Pandey claimed that he was unaware of the reasons for his arrest. “I am a dharma guru (religious leader) and preach Hinduism,’’ Pandey said softly. Pandey had quite a few contacts among politicians, retired bureaucrats and armymen.

The Times of India, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Arms collector probed for 2000 terror camp

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai:
Rakesh Dhawde, a weapons collector from Pune, had allegedly helped organise a terror training camp for around 115 youths at Sinhagad fort in Pune in 2000. Dhawde, who provided the antique guns and swords for Aamir Khan’s movie ‘The Rising (Mangal Pandey)’, is also suspected to have supplied firearms for the training programme, said sources.

Dhawde is currently in police custody for his alleged role in the Malegaon blast of September 29. Dhawde, arrested on November 5, was allegedly a fund-raiser for the Malegaon blast perpetrators. The police are also probing the role of arrested Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit in connection with the 2000 terror training. “We suspect that Dhawde had supplied the firearms for the training. Getting weapons was not difficult for him as he was known as a weapons collector,’’ said an officer.

The Sinhagad training, said sources, continued for 15 days and the participants, all from a radical Hindu organisation, were also taught how to handle explosives and martial arts. Dhawde is also being probed for links to the 2004 blast when a bomb was hurled outside a mosque in Jalna. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) took Dhawde into custody to also probe him for the April 2006 Nanded blast, where a bomb went off while being manufactured, killing two Bajrang Dal members instantly. The Nanded accused had during narco-analysis tests revealed that a training camp was held to teach people how to assemble bombs and operate firearms.

The police said that Dhawde and the other accused raised Rs 10 lakh for the Malegaon blast. They are gathering details of hawala transaction of Rs 20 lakh. Purohit is also accused of organising a training camp in 2003.

Police tortured Purohit, court told
Mumbai: Lt Col Prasad Purohit’s father in-law, Vilas Dalvi, on Thursday filed an application before the chief judicial magistrate K D Boche in Nashik alleging that Purohit was torutured in custody. The application alleged that Purohit had injury marks all over his body and injured fingers due to police torture. The applicant also requested the court to remand Purohit to judicial custody. Dalvi also sought a team of five doctors—two army doctors, two independent doctors and one government doctor—to examine Purohit. “We have got the notice from the court. The matter has been kept for hearing on November 15 and we will reply to these allegations. There is no truth to them and the allegations are vague,’’ ATS special counsel Ajay Misar told TOI.

The Times of India, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ATS detains Hindu leader from Kanpur

Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai\Lucknow:
A team from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Wednesday detained Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey in Kanpur in connection with the September 29 Malegaon bomb blast that killed six persons. Pandey, a self-styled Hindu religious leader, has been accused of attending several conspiracy meetings prior to the blast. There were also reports, denied by the ATS, that Pandey’s chartered accountant V K Kapoor and his son were arrested from Kashmir in connection with this case.

Meanwhile, Bhonsala military school administrator Major (retd) Shailesh Raikar, who had been questioned by the ATS, and Colonel (retd) Ramesh Gaidhene resigned from their posts on Tuesday.


Lt-Col’s laptop found, sent for tests

Malegaon Blast Trail: Hindu Leader Picked Up In Kanpur By Maharashtra ATS To Be Brought To Mumbai

Mumbai/Lucknow: In a breakthrough in the Malegaon blast case, the ATS has traced the laptop of Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit, which is believed to have crucial information. Purohit’s laptop, which went missing after he was picked up on October 29 for questioning, has been sent to a forensic science laboratory for examination.

Dayanand Pandey, a selfstyled Hindu religious leader, was picked up from the Rawatpur locality of Kanpur, which falls under the Kalyanpur police station. “We have taken Pandey into custody and he is being questioned. He will be brought to Mumbai and put under arrest,’’ said ATS chief Hemant Karkare.

According to Karkare, Pandey’s name cropped up during the interrogation of Purohit and Abhinav Bharat fund-raiser Ajay Rahirkar, who holds a white-collar job. “We got Pandey’s photographs, mobile numbers and other details. We verified these and on Wednesday got Pandey’s custody from the UP police,’’ said Karkare.

An ATS team arrived in UP on Tuesday armed with a Nashik court order directing the ATS (UP) to extend all possible help in establishing the role of Pandey in the Malegaon blast. Following this, a team comprising members from the Mumbai ATS and UP swooped down on Pandey’s brother Pushkar’s house in Rawatpur on Wednesday afternoon and arrested Pandey.

Talking about Pandey’s role, Karkare said, “He participated in several meetings conducted by the arrested accused at Bhonsala Military School, Deolali camp, Indore, Nashik and Jammu & Kashmir. He was part of the larger conspiracy.’’ However, investigations so far have not shown any link between Pandey and the two alleged Bajrang Dal activists who died while making bombs in Kanpur.

Additional director-general (law and order) Brij Lal and secretary (home) Kumar Kamlesh in UP told reporters that Pandey alias Sudhakar alias Amritanand was earlier the trustee of Jammu’s Sharda Peeth. The Peeth is an important body for Kashmiri Pandits. He was ousted following allegations about misappropriation of the Peeth’s funds. Not willing to give up, Pandey floated a parallel Sarva Sharda Peeth. He went by the highsounding alias of Swami Amritanand Deo Teerth.

The ADG further said he probably hailed from Varanasi. “We have just taken him in our custody. We are hoping to get useful information. So far, we have not got names of politicians in this case,’’ said an ATS officer. Eight persons, including a retired Indian Army major, have been arrested so far.

An ATS officer said, “Most of the content in Purohit’s laptop is about Abhinav Bharat, an organisation of Hindu hardliners who actively participated in the blast. Purohit is also a co-founder of Abhinav Bharat. It contains the names of over three dozen people, but we cannot say whether all of them have any connection with or knowledge of the blast.

“There are some incriminating files but so far we have not come across any bombmaking formula file,’’ the officer said. Purohit had bought the laptop while he was posted as an intelligence officer in Jammu & Kashmir in 2005.

The laptop could help investigators get leads in the case, said an officer. “We are also probing the funds raised by Pandey to run terror activities. We suspect he collected funds in the name of a charitable organisation,’’ said an officer. The ATS has found that Rs 20 lakh was used in cash, through banks and hawala, to fund the Malegaon blast. A list of fund-raisers is also being prepared.

Sources said Pandey was hiding in his lawyer brother’s house near Ram Lala School in Rawatpur. Locals, however, claimed that Sudhakar had come to visit his father, a retired police sub-inspector.

Meanwhile, IG (Kanpur zone) S N Singh, refused to comment on the connection between Sudhakar and the Rajivnagar blast. Two persons, Rajiv Mishra and Bhupendra Singh, were killed in a powerful bomb blast in a hostel room at Rajivnagar on August 24. TOI had reported on the “religious guru’s association with two Bajrang Dal members killed in the blast’’ in its November 12 edition.

Regional VHP head Awadh Bihari Mishra denied that Sudhakar had any links with his organisation. “I have never heard about him,’’ he said.

Probe into Kanpur blast

The Kanpur police have recovered a huge quantity of explosives, including ammonium nitrate, sulphur, arsenic, timer devices and other bomb-making material, from a hostel that was owned by Rajiv Mishra’s (who was killed in a blast in a hostel room at Rajivnagar in August) father. The police later recovered a gunnybag full of explosives and two bomb shells from a canal in Kalyanpur. Investigation revealed that Rajiv made frequent calls to two mobile numbers in Mumbai in April and May. Both numbers went out of service soon after the Kanpur blast. Both connections were obtained on the basis of fake addresses and identities.

The Times of India, November 13, 2008

Online support pours in for ‘idol’ sadhvi

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai:
The ATS may have accused sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur of engineering the Malegaon blast, but she has thousands of well-wishers on social networking sites. These supporters justify her act in no uncertain terms.

A user on one of the social networking sites described the sadhvi as an “idol Hindu woman”. “Sadhvi Pragya, Singh Thakur, also known as Purnachetanananda Giri, is a 38-year-old Hindu activist deceptively jailed for so-called bombings. She is not by any means involved in such inhumane acts. In reality, she is an idol Hindu woman,’’ the user said. It also extended help to sadhvi saying, “We are with you, Pragya.’’

The user has 146 friends on his list as well as 222 communities. These include “Karachi Hindus”, “No more communism”, “Jai Hanuman”, “Hindus of Pakistan”, “Vishwa Hindu Parishad”, “Veer Savarkar”, “Indian Army”, “BJP supporters’ group”, “Kashmiri Pandits”, “Shri Nathuram Godse”, “Bajrang Dal” and “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh” (with over 40,000 members).

Another community, “Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’’, has 298 members. It says, “Her teachings and views are of modern Hindu approach.’’ The community members have flooded the message box with opinions and voices of support. Most of the users have supported her act.

One user wrote, “She has been implicated in a false conspiracy by Congress and pseudo-secular parties to appease Muslims and gain vote bank. Hindu saints are being targeted by politicians.’’ The other communities of this user include those pertaining to Narendra Modi, Yogi Adityanath and Hinduism.

Pragya was arrested on October 23 by the ATS in connection with the Malegaon bomb blast. The police have also retrieved Pragya’s “400-minute conversation” with a wanted accused, Ramji Kalangasara, wherein the sadhvi has been heard saying how “just a few persons were killed” in the blast.

The sadhvi’s motorcycle was used to plant the bomb and its chassis number led the police to arrest her, the cops had claimed.

The Times of India, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ATS IN UTTAR PRADESH BUT MUM ON WHO SUSPECT IS

Arrested Lieutenant Colonel Revealed Name Of High-Profile Leader Who Police Believe Is Linked To Kanpur Blast

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Three teams of the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Tuesday reached Uttar Pradesh in search of a ‘high profile religous leader’ whose name cropped up during the investigation of the September 29 Malegaon bomb blast.

While several names of suspected religious leaders were floated by the media, the ATS was reluctant to speak about it. “We want to protect the interest of our investigation. Our teams have reached UP but we cannot reveal the name of the leader as it is a sensitive case,’’ said an officer from the ATS. The leader’s name cropped up during the interrogation of arrested Indian Army Lt Col Prasad Purohit. Purohit is also accused of collecting funds to run his terrorist activities through an outfit, Abhinav Bharat. He also supplied RDX and weapons to execute the Malegaon blast. The amount of money transferred through hawala for terror activities being run by Purohit is over Rs 14 lakh now. The police are investigating as to how much of the money given to him from the military’s Secret Servide Fund was used to fund his terror activities. The leader is believed to have been in touch with two Bajrang Dal members, Rajiv Sharma and Bhupendra Singh, who were killed while making a bomb in Kanpur on August 24 this year.

Sources said the two deceased had frequently called up on two mobile phones in Mumbai, two months preceeding the Kanpur blast. Telephone records showed that Sharma and Singh had made frequent phone calls on two Mumbai mobile numbers in April and May this year. However, after the August blast, the two numbers were ‘out of order’. The UP Special Task Force (STF) asked the ATS to check the two cellphone numbers. The probe revealed that both numbers were obained using fake identity. The bomb that had exploded at Kanpur contained ammonium nitrate, lead oxide and sulphur. The explosives were fitted with timers to create powerful bombs. Rajiv was working with a leading private telecom company in Uttar Pradesh. The blast occurred in the Rajivnagar area of Kanpur.

Sources said that the ATS is widening its focus and is believed to have searched all the records of a hardline Hindu outfit which was training youths in assembling bombs across the country. “There were zonal heads for fund raising and making arrangements for terror training,’’ said an officer.

An ATS officer told TOI that they were questioning one Sudhakar Chaturvedi to ascertain if he had any links with the Malegaon blast accused. The ATS will be taking him into custody for a thorough interrogation. Chaturvedi was arrested by the Matunga police for possessing a fake ID card of the Indian army. This ID card was also used as entry pass in Deolali cantonment. The ID, prepared in 2005, was used over a dozen times to visit the cantonment. Chaturvedi also visited the Bhonsala military school several times to attend personality development programmes. According to the police, several meetings were conducted at the military school and in Deolali prior to Malegaon bomb blast where the suspects had met to discuss their plan.

Meanwhile, the ATS also questioned a well-known child specialist from Malegaon after his contact number was found in the mobile records of one of the arrested accused. The doctor, who studied in Mumbai, was questioned by the ATS as to how his number reached the blast accused. The doctor was, however, given a clean chit after interrogation.

The Times of India, November 12, 2008

2 top Hindu leaders under scanner

ATS Denies Media Reports About BJP-Backed UP MP


Prafulla Marpakwar & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai/Lucknow: After arresting a sadhvi, a serving army officer and a retired army officer, a bigger breakthrough is on the cards in the case involving the Malegaon blast of September 29 in which six persons were killed and 89 others injured.

During the course of investigations, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is said to have found that two highprofile though non-political leaders, both of whom owe their allegiance to pro-Hindu organisations, are directly or indirectly involved in the case.

“Our investigations are at a very crucial stage. During the probe, we found that the two non-political leaders, who are not from Maharashtra, had played a vital role in assisting a section of the accused in the Malegaon bomb blast. We will disclose their names at the appropriate time,’’ a senior IPS official told TOI on Tuesday. While three ATS teams reached UP on Tuesday in search of a “highprofile leader’’ in connection with the case, speculation mounted on who that leader could be. Gorakhpur BJP MP Yogi Adityanath—a name TOI had on Monday evening but withheld in the absence of any confirmation—lashed out at claims that he was the suspect in question.

“I am prepared to face any inquiry and willing to support or cooperate with the ATS if it has some clinching evidence against me,’’ he told TOI, adding that the ATS would face severe retaliation if it only wanted to defame him. Adityanath’s name was all over the electronic media throughout Tuesday.

Another name that cropped up late Tuesday night is that of Mahant Kaushalendra, BJP MLA from the Tulsipur assembly constituency in UP and head of Devi Patan Mutt in UP’s Balrampur district. However, a high-ranking police official in Mumbai and intelligence sources in Delhi denied the mahant was being investigated. Incidentally, Devi Patan Mutt is part of Gorakhpur’s Gorakhnath Dham and Kaushalendra is said to be second-in-command to Adityanath in the yogi’s Hindu Yuva Vahini, an organisation of radicals opposed to conversion and cow slaughter.


Malegaon accused linked to Samjhauta Exp blast?

Mumbai/Lucknow: A top police official on Tuesday told this paper that the ATS was probing if the accused in the Malegaon bomb blast case had any links with three other blasts—in Nanded (April 6, 2006), Ajmer (October 11, 2007) and in the Samjhauta Express on February 18, 2007. “In the course of the investigations, certain information was received about the involvement of the Malegaon blast accused in the Nanded, Ajmer and Samjhauta Express blasts. We are trying to examine if these cases are linked to the Malegaon blast case,’’ the official said.

On the present status of the probe, the IPS official claimed that the ATS had conclusive evidence to establish the direct involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur as well as Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit and retired major Ramesh Upadhyaya in the blast. “From our investigations, it has been confirmed that the sadhvi was fully aware of the entire plan. She had complete knowledge of the plan, before and after. Now we are looking out for four other people, two of whom were entrusted with the task of bringing the vehicle, along with the bombs, to the spot and two others who were responsible for providing logistical support. All four have been identified, along with addresses. All are from outside Maharashtra. Once we arrest them, we will be able to complete the missing link in the case,’’ the IPS official said.

On the investigators’ search for a prominent leader in UP, the IPS official said it was unfortunate that the media had blown the matter out of proportion. “We are tackling this case carefully. We will not detain any person unless we have evidence against him. Even the sadhvi and army officials were detained after complete homework was done. “As far as the UP leader is concerned, he is associated with a religious group. We have sought permission from the Nashik court for his interrogation. If he is found involved, we will detain him as per the provisions of law,’’ the official said.


Army drive to weed out terror links

New Delhi:
With the UPA government keen to thwart any radical right-wing penetration of the security forces, the 1.13-million strong army is scanning its ranks to prevent any recurrence of an episode like Lt-Col Prasad Purohit’s arrest in the Malegaon blasts case.

Though the army maintains that no other officer’s name has surfaced in connection with the Malegaon case, it has been rudely jolted by the arrest of Purohit, an officer from the military intelligence, which itself is tasked with keeping a close watch on such things. “There are internal checks and steps are being taken that no such repetition takes place...we have done checks...we are checking postings and profiles of our people...we are taking additional measures,’’ said army chief General Deepak Kapoor on a J&K tour on Tuesday.

The army is already questioning the officers who were “in contact’’ with Purohit, who was doing a Arabic language course at the Army Educational Corps Training College and Centre in Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh) when he was arrested, or had served with him in earlier postings like Nashik as an army liaison Unit (LU) officer.

The force wants to ascertain where and when Purohit—placed under a “DV (discipline-vigilance) ban’’ to ensure he gets no promotions or new postings till his case is decided— came in contact with Malegaon case accused Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyaya.

General Kapoor, on his part, said “appropriate disciplinary’’ action would be taken against Purohit according to the army law if the charges against him were proved.

The DV ban on Purohit, a routine order which came the day the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) took him into custody for questioning, would be enforced till the probe is completed. Though the internal army ban will continue till Purohit is exonerated or held guilty in the case, he will be entitled to his emoluments and also retain official accommodation till then.

Defence minister A K Antony has already expressed “serious concern’’ over the developments, holding that both his ministry and the army were “determined to go to the root of the entire issue’’.


TANGLED WEB OF TERROR

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad on Tuesday claimed that it was hunting for two high-profile but non-political leaders in connection with various blasts
We want to protect the interest of the probe. Our teams have reached UP but we cannot reveal the name of the leaders (we are seeking) since it’s a sensitive case
ATS Officer

We are checking postings and profiles of our people. Steps are being taken to ensure against such repetition (Lt-Col Purohit’s role in terror)
Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor

The Times of India, November 12, 2008