Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saji in cop custody for 7 more days

LEGAL TANGLE: (From left) Saji Mohan’s father Varghese Yohannan (blue shirt), brother-in-law Sajoy (in purple) and cousin Tinu Philip (in spectacles) at a city court on Friday. (Right) Saji's co-accused Vicky Oberoi is being escorted by the policemen

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials on Friday claimed that IPS officer Saji Mohan had given 10 kg of heroin to a Jammu-based agent in mid-2008 to sell it but the latter vanished with the contraband and never returned.

Mohan, it was learnt, had issued a “supari” to track down the agent and recover the heroin or the money.

The officer, who was arrested a few days ago on charges of dealing in drugs, was remanded to further seven days in police custody by the Mazgaon magistrate’s court on Friday. The court also sent two other accused—police constable Rajesh Kumar and alleged drug trader Vicky Oberoi—to judicial custody. The duo was arrested on January 17 in possession of heroin and it was their interrogation that led to Mohan’s arrest.

A senior officer in the ATS said, “Mohan had been keeping a part of the seized heroin aside and this 10 kg was part of such a seizure. He knew the Jammu-based agent, Naseeb Chand, and asked him if he could sell it. Chand promised to sell it and give money to Mohan but he vanished with the heroin, which was worth Rs 10 crore in the international market,’’ said an officer.

Mohan, a deputy director with the Enforcement Directorate in Kerala, belongs to the Jammu & Kashmir cadre.

The police have found at least two persons in Mumbai who could be used as witnesses in this case. “Saji’s co-accused, Vicky Oberoi, had cont
acted a drug dealer in Mahim—and another near Milan subway—and given them heroin samples to check and buy. However, the two agents refused to purchase (the same),’’ said ATS additional commissioner Param Bir Singh.

A case of misappropriation of funds had been registered in Chandigarh against Mohan for stealing Rs 13 lakh from police custody.

The police said Saji, during his tenure as zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau in Chandigarh, had arrested a drug peddler called Raju. Based on Raju’s statement, Mohan sent a report to the Chandigarh police stating that six cops were part of Raju’s network.

Subsequently, the police personnel were suspended. Also, Mohan had not in
formed his senior officers about his report against the six policemen, who were close to a deputy superintendent in Chandigarh. A “negative report about them” was compiled by Mohan at the behest of another deputy superintendent of police and a journalist. It was learnt that Saji was monitoring the phone calls of some policemen in Chandigarh.

At the court, Mohan’s father Varghese Yohannan hugged him and broke down on meeting the officer. The two of them talked for several minutes before Mohan was whisked away by the waiting ATS investigators.

Mohan, it was learnt, told his father during the interaction at the court that he knew Oberoi and Kumar but denied any wrongdoing.

The ATS is questioning superintendent of police Balwinder Singh, who was flown in from Chandigarh.
(Inputs from Kartikeya)


First babu to be booked under PMLA?
Arrested IPS officer Saji Mohan may become the first bureaucrat to be tried under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Ironically, Mohan, who was last posted in Kochi as deputy director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), will be tried by his own organisation for money laundering and drug trafficking when a case under the PMLA is registered. Sources in ED said the agency would soon initiate preliminary inquiries against the officer and gather details of all his wealth. Though there is a provision of attachment of properties and assets of an accused under the NDPS Act, the agency will have difficulties doing the same under PMLA till a chargesheet is filed by the Maharashtra police. A senior official said the government has already approved the required amendments to register a case under PMLA against an accused at the stage of an FIR, but as this has not yet been notified, the agency will have to wait till the first chargesheet in the case is filed by the ATS. TNN

The Times of India, January 31, 2009

Plotters were to set up training camps in MP

(Lt. Col Prasad Purohit, now behinds bars, who wanted to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra)

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Colonel Bapaditya Dhar, who has been made a witness in the September 29 Malegaon blast case, had suggested setting up central training camps near Panchmadi in Madhya Pradesh to recruit youths. Dhar, who has been working with the Indian Army for the last 24 years, was seen in a video footage shot during a conspiracy meeting by another accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey.

Purohit, in the meeting, introduced Dhar—posted in the Parachute regiment at Panchmadi—as his senior officer, saying, “He believes in our ideology.’’ Dhar entered the meeting room at a time when the other accused were discussing the idea of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra, a government of their own in exile and taking help from Israel.

“We will have to become self-sustaining. We should keep Bhopal as our base. We can express anything through the media and start a media management college to propagate our thoughts,’’ Dhar suggested in the meeting. Dhar, arrested accused Lt. Col Prasad Purohit and other accused talk about launching a
TV channel as well. “Those who become members (of our organisation) could replace their surnames with the word Hindu,’’ Dhar suggested. “To start our operations, Madhya Pradesh is the best place. People there are illiterate. I want to start an organisation in that area,’’ he said.

When Purohit said they were facing several powers lke Islam, Christianity, government, etc and that this is not their constitution, Dhar agreed with Purohit and said, “This is the biggest fight.... We should have different plans for different states.... My submission is that whenever you want to start (an action plan), the central command should be at one place.’’

The Times of India, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Saji linked to int’l drug mafia: ATS

Chandigarh NCB Official Likely To Be Held


Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali I TNN
Mumbai: The ATS, which is investigating the drug trafficking case involving IPS officer Saji Mohan, has claimed to have found certain information linking him to an international drug mafia.
“We have found some numbers on Saji’s mobile phone indicating that he was in constant touch with some of the suspected drug traffickers. One of them had promised to send him a huge quantity of pure heroin,’’ an ATS official said. The heroin recovered from Saji had Pakistan markings and were of high purity.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Chandigarh Narcotics Control Bureau’s superintendent Balwindar Singh, who was summoned by the ATS, is likely to be arrested. Singh was Saji’s subordinate at Chandigarh NCB before the latter was transferred to the Enforcement Directorate in Kochi.
ATS officials said Saji has claimed that this was his first attempt to sell narcotics substances. Sources said that Saji met arrested accused Vicky Oberoi for the first time during the latter’s second marriage cer
emony at Gurgaon in 2007. “They were introduced by a common friend,’’ said an officer. “Saji had been keeping drugs aside after every seizure and it was his idea to sell it. He was over confident that he won’t be caught,’’ said ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi.

According to ATS, Saji discussed the idea of selling drugs with Oberoi. “The latter told Saji that he should transport the drugs as no one would suspect
him of being part of the cartel. Oberoi said heroin would fetch a good price in Mumbai,’’ said an officer.

Haryana police constable Rajesh Kumar, another accused in the case, had worked under Saji during the latter’s tenure as zonal director NCB, Chandigarh. “Saji had jurisdiction across three states—Chandigarh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh,’’ the officer added.

The ATS has so far recovered 38.8kg heroin from different places.

The ATS has summoned two police constables—Devendra Pal and Navin Kumar, who were personnel security officers to Saji as part of the investigation.”Saji’s drug network was spread over two states, including Jammu and Kashmir. He had also supplied drugs to some peddlers in other states. We are trying to corroborate his statement and have sent our teams for further verification,’’ said a senior ATS officer.

The ATS has written to three banks to freeze Saji’s accounts and has sought transaction details in the past one year. Meanwhile, Saji will be produced in the Mazagaon court on Friday.

The Times of India, January 30, 2009

Another Col took part in Malegaon meeting

(Pramod Muthalik (above), chief of Shri Ram Sena, was questioned by the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad on January 30 after he claimed that the Malegaon blast was just a glimpse of what they can do)

Mteen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: A serving colonel with the Indian Army, Bapaditya Dhar, had participated in the conspiracy meeting attended by the Malegaon blast accused, to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra.

Dhar, attached to Parachute regiment, was posted at Panchmadi in Madhya Pradesh. The meeting was held in 2007. Those present in the conspiracy meeting included Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Delhibased doctor R P Singh and Dhar. At this meeting, however, there was no discussion about carrying out a blast, according to the chargesheet.

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS), which investigated the Malegaon blast, has made Dhar a witness. Purohit wanted to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra and Dhar has referred to their efforts as a “cooperative movement’’. ATS decided to make Dhar not an accused since it did not posses enough evidence to link him with the blast conspiracy.

At the meeting, Purohit also read out the constitution they had drafted for the Hindu Rashtra. Purohit also proposed the idea of setting up NGOs like Save Tigers, Save Environment, Save Forests as a cover for pursuing their Hindutva agenda. Purohit was posted at Army’s Education Corps unit at Panchmadi in
Madhya Pradesh when he was arrested on November 5 last year for “conspiring and executing’’ the blast.

“We have to adopt such deceptive names. We gave arms training under the banner of The Bastion Guards. We have not used Sangh’s (Parivar) name,’’ Purohit was seen saying in a video film. The film, shot by co-accused Shankar
acharya Dayanand Pandey is part of the evidence in the trial.

“We have to start several units in different names like Save Tigers, Save Humans, Save Forests etc. We have to buy boats and will get photographs clicked with the boats saying we are life guards. No one should doubt us ,’’ Purohit said in a meeting.

ATS team looks for Mutalik’s links with Malegaon blast
Mumbai/Bangalore: A Maharashtra ATS team has left for Mangalore to question Hindu Rashtra Sena chief Pramod Mutalik in connection with the Malegaon blast. Mutalik was arrested on Wednesday by the Mangalore Police for inciting a group of youths who attacked a pub because “the pub culture was against Indian tradition’’.

News channels on Thursday showed a clipping in which Mutalik was seen delivering a speech: “The Malegaon blast is just a glimpse of what we can do. If bomb blasts are not prevented and oppression against Hindus continues, a Pragya Singh Thakur will be there in every Hindu family. If the sadhvi is among those involved she is a rev
olutionary and an ideal for all of us.’’ Thakur is one of the key accused in the Malegaon blast case.

“We did not know about Mutalik’s speech on Malegaon. We will question him if he has said that Malegaon is just a glimpse of what they can do. Our teams have left for Mangalore and will question him about the Malegaon blast. He will be arrested if they find his involvement in the Malegaon case,’’ ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi said.

The ATS suspects that Mutalik had delivered the speech after Pragya’s arrest on October 23. “We want to know if he had any links with the Malegaon blast accused,’’ Raghuvanshi said. The ATS is also looking for one Pravin Mutalik in the Malegaon case.

The Times of India, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

NEW YEAR, NEW CAR, BUT WHO PAID?

ATS Believed Saji Bought A Honda Civic On Jan 1 With Rs 13 Lakh That He Stole From The NCB While In Chandigarh

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: IPS officer Saji Mohan who was arrested in Mumbai on January 24 for drug trafficking stole Rs 13 lakh from the office of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Chandigarh last year during his stint as the zonal director, ATS officials claimed. Saji used this money to buy a Honda Civic on January 1. A drug trafficker from Mumbai and a few NCB officials in Chandigarh are also under the police scanner. “During his stint in Chandigarh, Saji had seized the Rs 13 lakh from an accused. He bought a car on January 1 this year,” said ATS additional commissioner, Pram Bir Singh.

Saji’s family members, however, told TOI that he purchased the car with the help of a bank loan, and the vehicle was yet to be delivered.

“A fresh case of theft will be registered with the Chandigarh police, and we will seize the car. So far, it has not been established that he was in touch with the international drug mafia,” said ATS chief additional director-general of police, Krish Pal Raghuvanshi. He added that Saji had amassed around 50kg of heroin. `We are trying to
get all the information on his wealth and property. Saji is now saying that he has committed a mistake by indulging in such an act.”
Besides the 12kgs initially found with Saji, the police, on January 25, had seized another haul of 25kg of heroin from a flat in Naigaon in Thane (rural), which was rented by Gaurav Oberoi, whose father Vicky, along with a Haryana police constable Rajesh Kumar, was arrested on January 17. “Saji had brought this 25kg in October last year to the Naigaon flat and told Vicky that it was his luggage to be used in a ‘secret operation’ in Jammu,” said an officer.

In 2004, the crime branch had arrested two Nigerian nationals in a drug case. They told the police that they were to supply the drugs to a person by the name of Vicky. Now, the ATS is trying to establish if this Vicky is the same person they have in custody. The police are currently examining Saji's laptop and CDs, which they said, contained pornographic images of Indian models. “There was an agitation against him in Jammu for his alleged affair with an air-hostess,” said an officer.

The Times of India, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SAJI STOLE AT LEAST 40KG HEROIN

he IPS Officer Claimed He Got The Contraband From The NCB When It Was Deposited By The Border Security Force


Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai
: According to Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials, IPS officer Saji Mohan, who was arrested for drug trafficking on January 24, has been changing his statement with increasing regularity. From maintaining that the heroin was smuggled into India from Pakistan last year, he modified his statement claiming that the contraband was part of unclaimed drugs deposited by the Border Security Force (BSF) with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). He also said that he that he mixed limestone with pure heroin and sold the contraband at high rates. “He has been changing his statements,’’ said ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi.


Another ATS officer added: “Saji was part of a cross border drug peddling group that smuggled Pakistani-marked heroin into India. At least five more people, including some police personnel, are likely to be arrested in this case.’’

Meanwhile, the ATS on Monday, seized 25kg of heroin from a flat in Nalanda building in Naigaon near Vasai in Thane (rural). The flat, belonging to one Prakash Patil, was rented out to Gaurav Oberoi, son of Vicky Oberoi, who is one of the accused in this case. “Saji had brought this consignment in July last year, and stashed it in Gaurav’s flat,’’ said Raghuvanshi.

An official said: “The consignment, in milk packets, bears
markings like B52, 555 and Peerzada-labelled heroin, which indicates that it’s from Pakistan. One kg of such pure white heroin costs anything from Rs 4-7 lakh in the Indian market.’’

Saji, an IPS officer of the 1995 batch, was arrested on January 24 from Classique Club, in Oshiwara. “He came from Delhi where he had undergone a training in Prevention of Money Laundering Act on Sunday, and was staying at the club. When we conducted
the first raid, we found 12kg of heroin with him,’’ Raghuvanshi said.

Saji had intended to collect his share of the money from Vicky who had offloaded an earlier consignment comprising 1.8kg of heroin. But Oberoi (56) was arrested on January 17 along with a Haryana police constable, Rajesh Kumar (30). ATS officials claimed that Saji was not aware that Vicky was under arrest, and laid out a trap to nab him. “We asked Vicky to speak to Saji from custody and directed him to trav
el to Mumbai to collect the money’’ said an official. Police are following all leads, including those that lead to Jammu, where Saji was posted in the initial years of his career. There is a theory that Saji’s team in Chandigarh had seized 52kg heroin 2007, but showed a recovery of 8kg. “Some lower rung policemen could be arrested,’’ a senior officer said.

He has been booked under section 8 (1) (c) and 21 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. If convicted, he faces 10 years to life imprisonment.


INNOCENT OR GUILTY?
The IPS officer has given three different versions to the police till date
January 24: “Heroin was part of a haul in Chandigarh in 2008’’
January 26: “Heroin came from Pakistan via Jammu’’
January 27: “Heroin was deposited to the Narcotics Control Bureau by the Border Security Force as unclaimed contraband’’

WHAT THE LAW SAYS
Enacted in 1985, the stringent Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act is the primary weapon in the hands of prosecuting agencies in India
The stringent piece of legislation carries a minimum sentence of 10 years rigorous imprisonment for those caught with a commercial quantity of a banned drug
The sentence can go up to 20 years depending on the discretion of the court
Bail provisions are so strict that it is virtually impossible to get bail under NDPS
The law carries a mandatory death penalty for anyone who is convicted the second time for a narcotics related offence

The Times of India, Janaury 28, 209

Monday, January 26, 2009

IPS officer held with heroin

Cop Was Trying To Sell Drugs Worth Rs 12 Cr In Andheri

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Saturday afternoon arrested Saji Mohan, a senior IPS officer, on charges of drug trafficking when he was caught with 12 kg of heroin at Oshiwara in Andheri. Saji is a deputy director with the Enforcement Directorate in Kerala.

It is the first instance of an IPS officer falling into the drug net, and is deeply ironical as Saji was the man heading anti-drug trafficking activities over a swathe of northwest India for about two years when he was posted as the zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau in Chandigarh from 2006-08. Moreover, he had been conferred a bravery award in 1999.

Saji is accused of delivering 12 kg of heroin, which makes it a commercial quantity under the anti-nar
cotics law, worth over Rs 12 crore in the international market and collecting payment for selling an earlier consignment in Mumbai.

The 37-year-old IPS officer of the 1995 batch has been sent to police custody till January 30. He has been booked under sections 8(1)(c) and 21 of the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. Under the stringent provisions of the law, he is un
likely to receive bail and, if convicted, will be in jail for at least 10 years.

Police said a trap was set for Saji and the ATS team arrested him around 2 pm after assistant inspector Sunil Mane got a tip-off that the officer would be making a delivery at Classique Club near Infiniti Mall. Besides the heroin, a mobile phone, some CDs and a laptop were recovered from him.

“On January 17, our teams ar
rested two person—Vicky Oberoi, a local fish vendor, and Haryana police constable Rajesh Kumar—in Mumbai and seized 1.8 kg heroin. They told us that a “senior officer’’ had given them the package with an instruction to peddle the drugs. During the probe we found that a police officer was involved,’’ said ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi.

Saji, who comes from Kochi in Kerala, had joined ED in the state as deputy director only two weeks ago. “He served in the Chandigarh NCB as zonal director during 2006-08. During this period, Saji and his team busted several drug rings. He used to show only a part of the haul as the seizure and, thus, managed to steal about 30-35 kg of heroin. Later, he planned to sell it through a constable and a Mumbai-based agent,’’ said an ATS officer.

The 12 kg of heroin seized in Mumbai is believed to be a part of the haul he had set aside illegally, said the officer.

When Saji Mohan was zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau in Chandigarh, his jurisdiction spread over Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. He is accused of illegally stealing parts of the narcotics haul he made then and trying to peddle them now. The 12 kg of heroin he was held with in Mumbai is believed to be part of the hoard.

“We are trying to establish if he sold the remaining heroin earlier or it has been kept mewhere. We have just got his remand and will try to find out where he hid the heroin after stealing it from the seized consignment in Chandigarh,’’ he added.

At the time of arrest, the senior IPS officer was entitled to a salary of Rs 71,000 per month. He had sought a transfer to the Kerala ED on December 31, 2008. “In most cases, zonal directors’ deputation period of two years is increased. However, he decided to take the transfer (to Kerala). We’ll need to examine why he did that,’’ a senior Chandigarh NCB officer told TOI.

Saji’s arrest has brought the functioning of the Chandigarh NCB under intense scrutiny. Immediately getting down to action, NCB author
ities in New Delhi have decided to review cases settled and scrutinise drug seizures made during Saji’s 23-month tenure in the city. Chandigarh’s officiating zonal director Sandeep Mittal, who was in Delhi, has left for the Union Territory.

NCB director-general O P S Malik said: “We want to probe all cases that were cracked by sleuths under the leadership of Saji Mohan.’’

Saji, who did an animal husbandry and veterinary course from Jabalpur University, passed the civil services examination in his second attempt and was selected for the Jammu and Kashmir cadre. He worked in J&K till 2006, serving as the superintendent of police in Doda, before moving to the NCB on deputation.

Speaking to TOI, Saji’s father, Varghese Yohannan, a retired subedar major, said, “I don’t think my son will ever do this. It must have been planted on him. He was returning from Delhi after attending a week-long training on the new Prevention of Money Laundering Act.’’

The ATS is trying to establish if Saji had supplied drugs to rave party organisers or participants in Maharashtra. Asked if he had any “celebrity customers’’ in Mumbai, Raghuvanshi said it was too early to comment.

The Times of India, January 26, 2009

Blast accused sought help from corporates



Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The Malegaon blast suspects, who had dreamt of creating a Hindu nation, had planned to take help from Tata Motors and Mahindra Motors for their organisation, Abhinav Bharat, under the guise of disaster management.

Prime accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit, arrested for conspiring and exeucting the Malegaon blast on September 29, 2008, had suggested starting a disaster management

company, which would work for their agenda of a Hindu Rashtra. Purohit had made this proposition during a conspiracy meeting, which was videotaped. The video is part of the evidence in court and is included in the chargesheet.

“We have started a trust named Abhinav Bharat and will approach Tata Motors and Mahendra Motors saying that
it is a disaster management company. They give five to seven vehicles to such comapanies,’’ Purohit said during the meeting. He added that they required infrastructure to “train’’ their boys. “Secondly, an organisation called Bharat Scouts and Guides trains people at very low cost. If you have 25 to 50 persons, then they can allow you to use their facilities—in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh—for training. We have also purchased land in Maharashtra, which we can use for training. The money and other aid which we receive in the name of disaster management could be utilised here,’’ he said.

Purohit had planned to impart training in firearms to the
recruits of Abhinav Bharat. Purohit added that after training, their men could be deployed in security agencies.

Purohit also claimed that he knew all the top brass at two military schools in the state. “Our members can be trained at Bhonsala military school at Nashik and Maharashtra military school. The top brass at Bhonsala school will do as I say. The commandant, chief training officer, chairman and the school are in my hand,’’ said Purohit.

Purohit had mentioned the name of (retd) Col Shailesh Raikar, prinicipal of Bhonsala, at one of the meetings held to discuss making of a Hindu Rashtra. Raikar resigned from the college in November 2008.

The Times of India, January 26, 2009

HOPING TO CREATE HINDU RASHTRA

(Lt Col Prasad Purohit (above), a serving army officer, now behinds bars in Malegaon blast case)

Seer planned to construct Bharat Mata temple

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Self-proclaimed shankaracharya Sudhakar Dwuvedi alias Dayanand Pandey, during a conspiracy meeting for making India a Hindu Rashtra, had suggested that a Bharat Mata temple be constructed, bearing names of all Hindus who were killed by foreign invaders from 712 AD onwards. According to him, those killed were icons for today’s Hindu youth. A person, identified as Sharmaji, during the meeting had said temple would be on the lines of what the Israelis had done—recorded their 2,300-year history on “the walls”.

TOI had first reported about the Malegaon blast accused’s conspiracy of making India a Hindu Rashtra with the help of Israel (November 27, 2008 edition) and taking the country’s control in their hand. Police has arrestedserving army officer Lt Col Prasad Purohit and 10 others for the Malegaon blast on Sep
tember 29, 2008. The suspects were member of asocial organisation, Abhinav Bharat.

Purohit had said the temples would be constructed across the country. “The Bharat Mata temple will be to sanctify the idea of the nation,’’ said Purohit. Initially, the conspirators decided to select a temple in Kashi but rejected that idea since it does not mention the names of those martyred since 712 AD.

Purohit said resurrection of national icons who have been motivating generations over the century is a must. “There are no national icons today for the youth to look up to. Caste system is our biggest enemy. Our aim is the unity of all Hindus and to bring the nation under one saffron flag. Any person under the aegis of the flag must be knwon only as a Hindu,’’ Purohit said.

Purohit also suggested improvement and maintenance of forts of Shivaji in Maharashtra and others in Madhya Pradesh and UP where youths could come together.

The Times of India, January 26, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Great job, seer wrote to sadhvi

{Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur (extreme left), Himani Savarkar, Dayanand Pandey (extreme right) in one of Abhinav Bharat's meetings}

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Just days after Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was arrested in connection with the September 29 Malegaon blast case last year, selfproclaimed seer and another accused in the case, Dayanand Pandey, had compiled a ‘press release’ congratulating the sadhvi her for doing the job.

The press note, which was to cir
culated only among Abhinav Bharat members, is dated October 25. Pragya was arrested on October 23.

The missive states, “Let (the) Malegaon masjid episode be repeated all over the world. Shree Sarvagyapeeth, Kashmir, congratulates Sadhvi Pragya for her daring step. Aryavart government wishes her success in future programme for the eradication of Islam.’’

The accused had wanted to run
a parallel Hindu government. TOI was first to report about the Aryavart Desh concept on November 27, 2008.

The ‘press release’ states, “Good Muslims and Christians would continue to wage Jihad until we stop them by eliminating their means and motivation.’’ It also states that the governments are harbouring, aiding, motivating, abetting and defending Christianity and Islam.

The Times of India, January 24, 2009

Accused wanted own news channel

Malegaon Blast Conspirators Sought To Use Media to Further Their Agenda

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Terming the media as a powerful source of propaganda, conspirators of the September 29, 2008 Malegaon bomb blast had decided to start a satellite TV channel to preach their theory. According to the chargesheet filed by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), the conspirators had also discussed how underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s money was being pumped into some news channels.

The conspiracy of a Hindu Rashtra was hatched prior to the Malegaon blast and it came to light only
after the anti-terrorism squad arrested 11 suspects, including selfstyled guru Dayanand Pandey, former Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad member Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, retired major Ramesh Upadhyay and serving Lt Col Prasad Purohit.

At a meeting held last year, the conspirators had discussed at length the nitty-gritties of launching a channel. Dr R P Singh, now a witness in the case, had said that they would require a total of Rs 16 crore to launch and sustain a news channel for six months. “Dawood’s money is being
invested in independent channels. According to my information, Rs 10 crore is needed to start a news channel and another Rs 6 crore to run it for six months. We will try to broadcast our channel through cable operators,’’ Singh had said during a meeting of Abhinav Bharat members. Upadhyay, on the other hand, had talked about starting a channel abroad. “Rs 25 crore is required to start a channel on foreign soil and another Rs 25 crore to run it for six months,” Upadhyay is believed to have said. Colonel B Dhar, another witness in this case, had suggested opting for a local TV channel. “Collecting Rs 10 crore or Rs 25 crore at this stage is difficult,’’ Dhar had said.

The blast conspirators had also discussed about planting their men
in media houses to propagate their agenda. “We have managed to place 26 of our students in different channels,’’ Singh had said.

Those present at the meeting also talked about starting a media management college in Bhopal. “We can use it to propagate our ideology. We can start our own newspaper. This will help us create a large base of followers,’’ Singh had said.

Col Purohit had also talked about organising press conferences and sending out press releases regularly to various media houses to avoid misinformation.

The chargesheet also says that Purohit had boasted of carrying out two other operations but it is not clear what he was talking about.

The Times of India, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

‘They wanted global help’

Mateen Hafeez
Mumbai: The details of the Malegaon bomb blast conspiracy meeting retrieved from the laptop of shankaracharya Dayanand Pandey alias Sudhakar Dwuvedi have revealed a suggestion by the accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit that about joining hands with Hindus in several countries—Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, Nepal and Korea for the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra in India.
The conversation, which is now part of the chargesheet in the MCOCA court, was filmed by Pandey during one of their meetings. Purohit also claimed he knew like-minded people from these countries.

The Times of India, January 2009

Accused were upset with the state govt: Police

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Accused Major Ramesh Upaddhyay and Lt Col Prasad Purohit, in a phone conversation, had allegedly blamed the NCP for the probe against the Hindu organisation, and claimed the state government wanted to divert the attention of public from MNS chief Raj Thackeray. The police have produced this conversation as evidence in the special MCOCA court. The conversation between Upaddhyay and Purohit took place on October 23, 2008. The police got hold of this information while monitoring a mobile phone (9424465041).

In the recorded conversation, Prasad tells
Upaddhyay that it was the ‘Rashtrawadi Congress’ which told the police to frame Sanatan Sanstha and that the Hindu Jagran Samiti is Maharashtra wing of Sanatan Sanstha.

Excerpts from the conversation:
Upaddhyay: That means the news has been leaked before confirmation by the ATS or somebody...it’s politically motivated to defuse the situation existing in Maharashtra in the wake of Raj Thackeray Prasad: Yes, it is basically the Rashtrawadi... Upaddhyay: It’s Rashtrawadi’s game plan because the home ministry has drawn all the flak and it is with Rashtrawadi in Maharashtra. Prasad: Yes sir

The Times of India, January 23, 2009

Court takes cognisance of chargesheet

Mumbai: A special MCOCA court on Thursday took cognisance of the 4,528-page chargesheet filed by the ATS in the Malegaon blast case.

Special judge Y D Shinde admitted the chargesheet after perusing it. Defence lawyers had opposed the chargesheet, saying MCOCA was not applicable to the case and the matter could be dealt with only under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). MCOCA charges should be dropped and the case sent to a regular court in Nashik, they said.

The chargesheet has been filed against 11 accused, including Capt Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and three other men who are still absconding. The next stage will be for the court to frame the charges under which the trial will be conducted. The accused have been booked under MCOCA, UAPA, Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and Explosives Act.

The Times of India, January 23, 2009

MALEGAON PLOTTERS’ DREAM?

Textile Town Blast Accused Had Chalked Out Detailed Plans For The Hindu Rashtra They Hoped To Create’

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Lt Col Prasad Purohit and his associates may have been accused of a relatively minor explosion, but the group had ambitious plans for the Hindu Rashtra they hoped to create.

Their constitution for a Hindu Rashtra talks about economy, education, defence, one nation, training its citizens and even special economic zones (SEZs).

A few paragraphs of the constitution, which Purohit read out in a conspiracy meeting, talk about strengthening of Bharatiya culture and nationalism with an emphasis on nationalism as defined in Vedic literature.

Delhi-based doctor R P Singh was also present in the meeting where the constitution was discussed among the members of Abhinav Bharat. The meeting was recorded on the laptop of accused Dayanand Pandey.

Excerpts from the ‘constitution’:
DEFENCE: Purohit suggested that the strength of the army be increased from 14 lakh to 1 crore men. The defence minister should be called as war minister. Pandey suggested that Pakistan should not be mentioned in their plan since they consider it a part of Akhand Bharat.

ECONOMY: Agriculture must be controlled and planned by a qualified body of advisers. Group farming must be encouraged to curtail losses. Emphasis should be on agricultural self-reliance—the backbone of the Bharatiya economy. SEZs should only be built on barren land, and acquisition of agricultural land should be prohibited. Development of infrastructure should be common and equal. The constitution also talks of uninterrupted supply of power, irrigation network, fresh land re
forms, controlled and compulsive farming, and education facilities at every village.
FOREIGN POLICY: Purohit suggested declaring the country at war till its lost territory was regained or the Line of Control was accepted as international border. It also talks of forming Buddhist and Hindu nations’ union to fight Islamic and Christian invasions.
CRIME: The constitution recommends strict punishment for defaulters and officials facing corruption charges, capital punishment and field/corporal punishment in public places. It prohibits cow slaughter. The constitution talks of enforcement of civil code along with social security code, and national security policy.

MEMBERSHIP:People can become members by submitting a form physically or online, for a fee of Rs 30. The organisation would train members, offer yearly promotions, internal and mutual assessment and confidential reports will be followed, and provide identity cards. Unofficially, any Hindu is an honorary member of this organisation (Rashtra).
MILITARY TRAINING: Every member will need to have the basic knowledge of the weapons.

The Times of India, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How ATS got two key confessions

Kartikeya & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Police officials had to resort to psychological tactics and some quick innovative thinking to break down the accused in the Malegaon blast case on realising that they were loathe to cooperate with the investigation.

For instance, in the case of Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, what worked was that he was questioned by an ordinary constable from the ATS.

Sources said that initially Purohit was unwilling to disclose any information, choosing to give evasive replies to all the questions posed to him, despite the pile of evidence that was mounting against him.


Things changed when Purohit was brought to the ATS headquarters in Mumbai. Sources close to the investigation said that Purohit broke down when he realised that he was an ordinary accused in a criminal case, and that the days of being a senior army officer were behind him.


This harsh truth was reiterated by the police when an ordinary constable—whom Purohit would have outranked as an army officer—was sent to interrogate him. In the case of Shankaracharya Sudhakar Duwedi alias Dayanand Pandey, it was his laptop, which the police had in their custody that worked against him. The self-styled seer who, until then, had refused to open up to even the top police officials, broke down af
ter investigators found senstive information on his laptop. It contained over 200 pornographic photos and a dozen Xrated movies.

The very thought of the images made public was enough to get Pandey talking. The Kanpur-based sadhu has a wife and two children. “Pandey was afraid of it being made public, and it was then that he began to cooperate,’’ a senior officer said. An ATS officer said that they will be filing a supplementary chargesheet on the “laptop’s forensic report soon’’.


It was through such methods that the ATS managed to ferret out large amounts of information, enabling them to build a massive chargesheet against the accused, which will now be used to prosecute them.

The Times of India, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

‘Accused were seeking help of Nepal Maoists’

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The ATS on Tuesday said some of the accused in the Malegaon blast on September 29, 2008, had been trying to negotiate with the Maoists in Nepal to execute their conspiracy. One of the accused—Shankaracharya Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey—had been visiting Nepal to meet his followers at a peeth and allegedly got in touch with some Maoists, said ATS officials.

“Though it’s difficult to establish their links with maoists, it is a fact that they had been in touch with them,’’ said an officer.

Additional DGP K P Raghuvanshi, in charge of the ATS, said, “We found that Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, who is accused of procuring RDX, had got it from Kashmir. He had stored the material at his house in Pune. The RDX was
taken to the residence of another accused—Sudhakar Chaturvedi—in Deolali, where the bomb was made. “Purohit, Chaturvedi, Rakesh Dhawde, Sandeep Dange, Pravin Mutalik and Ramji, who are the key accused in the case, were present while the bomb was being made,’’ said Raghuvanshi. “However, we do not know whether Purohit procured the RDX from the army. We have found its traces at Chaturvedi’s residence.’’

Dange, Mutalik and Ramji, who allegedly planted the bombs on a bike provided by sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur (38), are yet to be arrested.

“Purohit had told a witness that he had supplied the RDX in the Samjhauta blast case. However, we do not have any evidence yet,’’ said Raghuvanshi. He added that the ATS had not got any evidence against the accused that could link them with the blast at Modasa in Gujarat on September 29, 2008. Terming the group as an organised crime syndicate, Raghuvanshi added that Rs 21 lakh were collected through Abhinav Bharat, an outfit floated by Purohit a few years ago. “Dhawde had organised a terror training camp in 2003,’’ he said.


Chargesheet Filed

The ATS on Tuesday filed a 4,528-page chargesheet against 11 accused in the September 29, 2008, Malegaon blast case
The chargesheet contains two confessional statements, a list of 431 witnesses that the prosecution wants to examine, a dozen witnesses’ statements as well as forensic evidence
The prosecution may call upon 5 army officers to testify
Special judge Y D Shinde allowed the ATS to file the chargesheet but said he would indicate on Wednesday whether the court had taken cognisance of it or not.

The Times of India, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Will fresh case weaken trial?

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The ATS is now planning to register a fresh case in the Malegaon bomb blast case. The fresh case pertains to one of the conspiracy meetings held at Nashik, leading to the blast. Lt Col Purohit, Dayanand Pandey, Sudhakar Chaturvedi who have been named accused in the blast case, will be booked in the Nashik conspiracy case along with five others. These five people, two from Mumbai and three from Nashik, will be tried only in the conspiracy case.

A senior police official said they did not want to make it part of the Malegaon blast case as the police do not have sufficient evidence to try these five people in the larger conspiracy. However, a section of policemen say that this could weaken the Malegaon blast case because it would divide
the evidence in two cases.

According to another senior officer, the case at Nashik will be registered for conspiracy and waging war against the nation. The case pertains to a “conspiracy meeting’’ where the accused can be seen discussing the preparations for the blast in a 14-minute video film. A man in his early sixties is shown in the video, saying that the bombs should be planted on Eid when all Muslims gather for namaz.


The film was shot by Pandey and stored in his laptop, which was seized by the police after his arrest. The ATS has also received the forensic report of two laptops seized from Purohit and Pandey.

The squad has several film clips, which were shot by Pandey when visitors and followers would come to meet him. Other clips include footage of politicians, bureaucrats, senior police officers and personnel from the
intelligence department. “We are considering filing a separate case of conspiracy against the accused in Nashik where this meeting was conducted in 2007. The accused will be booked in a new case,’’ said an IPS officer.

If registered, it will be the fifth case against Purohit and the third against Chaturvedi. Purohit was first booked in the Malegaon blast case, then the Matunga police registered a case of preparing a fake army ID, the third case was lodged with the Nashik police for submitting false documents to obtain an arms licence and the fourth case, pertaining to forgery, was registered by the Pune police.


“The video CD is part of evidence that proves how the suspects hatched a conspiracy for multiple blasts across the country. If this evidence is given in another case, it might weaken the Malegaon blast case as the proof will be divided,” said a policeman.


ATS TO FILE CHARGESHEET TODAY
The anti-terrorism squad is all set to file a chargesheet in the September 29 Malegaon blast case on Tuesday. Initially, the 11 accused were charged under conventional laws but later the ATS invoked the stringent MCOCA. Thus the case is before a special MCOCA judge in Mumbai. The defence lawyers have challenged the applicability of the special law to the case saying it was imposed by the police only to force confessions out of the accused. Since MCOCA was applied, the ATS had 180 days, instead of the three month given to the police under ordinary laws, to file a chargesheet in the case. Once it is filed decks will be clear for the court to frame charges against the accused and start the trial. TNN

The Times of India, January 20, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hunt for blast suspect leads ATS to K’taka

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: With the ATS confident of nabbing one of the three accused who planted the bomb in Malegaon on Septermber 29, 2008, the scope of investigations into the case seems to be broadening. An ATS team—on the lookout for one Pravin Mutalik (25)—is currently camping in Karnataka.

“According to our information, Mutalik was present in Malegaon along with the accused Ramji Kalangasara and Sandeep Dange. We are making further inquiries,’’ a senior officer said. Mutalik has been termed as a ‘technical expert’.

On Septermber 29 last year, an RDX-based bomb was plant
ed on a two-wheeler at Bhikku Chowk in central Malegaon. Six persons, including an 11-year-old girl, were killed in the explosion. So far, 11 persons including sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a former member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay and shankaracharya Dayanand Pandey have been arrested. The two-wheeler on which the bomb was planted allegedly belonged to Pragya. It was the chassis number of the two-wheeler that led the police to the sadhvi.

“Pragya introduced Muta
lik to Purohit. Mutalik, who hails from Karnataka, came to Nashik and Deolali to meet Purohit on several occasions and attended the meetings during which the conspiracy for the blast was hatched,’’ the officer said. Pragya was responsible for gathering manpower, while Purohit was entrusted the tasks of getting the material for making the bomb and executing the plan.

“On the day of the blast, Mutalik accompanied Ramji to Malegaon, where the latter planted the bomb on the bike. We suspect that Mutalik helped Ramji in planting the bomb,’’ said the officer. A police officer said the arrest of Mutalik would help in nabbing Ramji and Dange. “Mutalik, a member of the Abhinav Bharat outfit, could have brainwashed several others for the blast. We will nab him soon,’’ said that officer.

CHARGESHEET ON JANUARY 20
The ATS is likely to file a chargesheet in the Malegaon blast case on January 20 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Explosives Act and the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

The Times of India, January 19, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

‘Purohit, Chaturvedi lied in narco test’

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Two months after making several arrests in the September 29 Malegaon blast case, the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) has said that Lt-Col Prasad Purohit and his associate Sudhakar Chaturvedi had tried to dodge the investigators during the narco analysis test. The duo had said that the RDX was procured by some Kashmiri Muslims in Pune and the bomb was assembled and planted by some Muslims from Malegaon.

“Both Purohit and Chaturvedi lied during the narco test. They tried to dodge the investigators to save the other accused in the case. We had thoroughly scrutinised the evidences we had collected and established that the two were lying. The RDX was procured by Purohit on the instructions of another accused, Swami Dayanand Pandey,’’ said an IPS officer in the ATS.


Following the narco tests, the ATS questioned Pandey about the authenticity of Purohit’s claims. “We took Pandey into confidence who revealed

that the RDX was procured by Purohit from Kashmir and later given to wanted accused Ramji,’’ the officer added.

Purohit, the first serving
officer in the Indian Army to be arrested in the case, said during his narco test in Bangalore that he had roped in some Muslim boys from Malegaon to assemble the bomb and plant it near the SIMI office in the town. Purohit had said that the RDX used in the blast was procured from a colony in Pune which is inhabited by Kashmiri Muslims.

“Purohit and Chaturvedi could not be brought into complete trance during the narco
test and they lied during the test. Our investigation is now widening to other states,’’ said the officer.

This was the first case in the country where suspects from the right wing were arrested. Chaturvedi was the national coordinator for a radical organisation Abhinav Bharat while Purohit is said to be the brain behind floating this outfit. In fact, one view is that someone with Army training, like Purohit, could beat the test.

The Times of India, January 16, 2009

PLOT THICKENS - FBI questioned Kasab on training, Pak links

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) interrogated Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive, recently.

The FBI also gathered evidence on Pakistan’s involvement in the terror attacks and information about the training organised by LeT.

A two-member FBI team, along with an interpreter, visited the crime branch office where Kasab was lodged during his police custody. The interrogation, said sources, was chiefly about the training camps in Pakistan, the financiers, the handlers, their description, languages they speak, aliases and code names used by the handlers, infor
mation about the other recruits being trained in those camps and their nationalities.

``Kasab spoke in Punjabi and Urdu and the interpreter was busy translating the conversation. The FBI officials took down Kasab’s address in Faridkot, Pakistan, name of his school, its location, de
scription, etc. They also asked him to explain the names and descriptions of his neighbours to establish his Pakistan connection during their investigation,’’ said a crime branch officer. The FBI team, which had its own questionnaire, was asking Kasab questions through the interpreter.

FBI carried out its own investigation whenever US nationals are involved in a case. In the 26/11 terror attack, of the 26 foreigners killed, five were Americans.

The crime branch is learnt to have handed over Kasab’s statement, the route through which the terrorists entered India, the conspiracy and the execution of the plan to the FBI.
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com

The Times of India, January 16, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Leela hotels get email bomb threat

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Leela group of hotels has received a threatening email saying that explosive devices have been planted in all its hotels across the country, and may go off if a ransom of Rs 42 lakh is not paid. The email has been traced to Kenya and the UAE. However, a detailed search of the hotel by the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad did not recover any explosive devices.

The email was sent from the ID payingtime@gmail.com. Investigators got details of the internet protocol (IP) address from which the mail was sent from Google on Saturday.


The police said the email was sent to several Leela hotels besides Mumbai, including Bangalore, Kerala, and Goa. The Goa police are also probing the case.


Leela threat may be hoax
Mumbai: The sender of the email threat received by the Leela group of hotels had declared in the message that failure by the management to reply would be considered betrayal. Although the message demanded a ransom of Rs 42 lakh be paid in Australian dollars, it contained no instructions. And although it claimed explosive devices had been placed in all the group’s hotels, a thorough check turned up nothing.

“The email did not mention how the payment should be made. The hotel management was asked to reply to the mail, when further instructions on the mode of the payment would have been made,’’ a police officer said.


The management of the
Leela Kempinski informed Sahar police station about the receipt of the email. Deputy commissioner of police Nisar Tamboli (zone-VIII), told TOI, “We were informed on January 9 about the email.’’

Vivek Nair, vice-chairman and managing director of Leela Group, said, “We have received similar email messages in several of our hotels. The sender mentioned bombs kept in the hotels. On police instructions, we tried to reply, but the mail bounced. The email did not mention any name. We think it’s a hoax.’’ The police too say the mail may be a prank, but at the same time, they are not taking it lightly.


The police traced the email to an IP address to Kenya. A police source said the email was linked to two IP address
es, one in Kenya and the other in the UAE. “Two people could be jointly operating the single email ID,’’ he said.

Tamboli added that the police were exploring all the angles in this case. “We are trying to establish if the sender ever stayed in this hotel. All possibilities are being examined,’’ he said.


The police have scanned closed circuit TV footage, but have noticed no suspicious activity. Copies of the email have been forwarded to the state anti-terrorism squad, the Mumbai crime branch.


The email threat comes barely a month and a half after the 26/11 terror attack in which two five star hotels—the Taj and Trident—were targeted, besides CST station and Nariman House.


mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com

The Times of India, January 12, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Many Nigerian mails originate here: Cops

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Most of the fraudulent emails promising huge amounts of money from Nigeria through lottery winnings, sales of ancestral property and so on originate from India itself, according to the Mumbai police. However, in such cases, the perpetrators use proxy servers which indicate that the emails originate in a foreign country.

A police officer said that a Pune-based man received an email from ‘Nigeria’ stating that his ancestors’ property had been discovered and he had to pay the legal fee of Rs 6 lakh. The victim sold his house to pay the money. Later, it was discovered that the mail had originated from a cyber cafe in Mumbai.

Nigerian email fraud is known as the 419 (or K49) scam. 419 refers to the Nigerian criminal statute for fraud. Such scams have been around since the 1980s and began as postal letter scams. They now include phone contact (including cell phones), fax messages and emails.

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) some months ago arrested five people, including two Nigerians, for duping city-based eye specialist Dr Kedar Sathe and a retired central government employee in Delhi. The main accused, Tony Johnson, sent emails to the victims, saying their ancestral properties had been discovered in Nigeria and they could acquire the same after paying the legal fee. The Delhi victim deposited Rs 24 lakh in a bank account and Sathe, who runs a clinic at Sion, deposited Rs 27 lakh.

Johnson used the bank accounts of Indians in exchange for a 10% commission. Johnson also sent e-mails to thousands of net surfers claiming to be the director of a Nigerian firm that had discovered millions of dollars which belonged to the ancestors of the victims. He sent letters on bogus letterheads of the CBI and customs saying the money had reached the airport. The victims had to deposit $2,000 to $4,000 to clear the formalities.

“Sometimes the accused send emails from Nigeria and use Indian contacts. We are able to detect most of the cases and arrest the culprits,’’ said crime branch chief Rakesh Maria.

The Times of India, January 6, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Chaturvedi gave his room to make bomb, says ATS

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The RDX bomb used in last September’s terror attack in Malegaon was assembled at Sudhakar Chaturvedi’s residence in Deolali near Nashik, the ATS has found after interrogating him. Chaturvedi, a member of Abhinav Bharat, has been arrested in the case.

ATS officials said Chaturvedi, a key fund collector
for the organisation, had provided his rented room in Deolali to the others accused in the case. It was there that Lt-Col Prasad Purohit allegedly manufactured the bomb, officials said.

But the ATS, despite making the first arrest in the case on October 23, is still struggling for physical evidence to club with the chargesheet that can help it secure conviction. The chargesheet, officials said, would be filed in the next two weeks.

The 37-year-old Chaturvedi was first arrested by the Matunga police for possessing a fake entry pass for the Deolali cantonment area. “Chaturvedi also attended several meetings where the plot was hatched,’’ an officer said. “He also attended programmes on personality development organised at Bhonsala Military School, Nashik,’’ he added.

Officials said it was Purohit who prepared the fake pass for Chaturvedi. They have at least five SMSes to nail Purohit, in which he has instructed the co-accused to change mobile numbers and expressed his anxiety over the arrest of sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

“Purohit’s role is much bigger than what it appears. He procured the RDX on the instructions of Dayanand Pandey and handed it over to Ramji (still wanted by the police),’’ an ATS officer said.

The sadhvi’s motorbike was used to plant the bomb in Malegaon. Officials also have telecommunication records showing her involvement in the case. The former member of BJP student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and women’s outfit Durga Vahini is currently lodged in the Byculla women’s prison.

She has been accused of participating in conspiracy meetings till the execution of the blast, which killed six.


The Times of India, January 4, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

‘Kasab, aides never did city recce’


CO-CONSPIRATOR? Fahim Ansari

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Investigations have revealed that the terrorists had not been to the city before the 26/11 attacks. They identified the four targets—CST station, Oberoi-Trident, Taj Hotel and Nariman House—based on an earlier survey carried out by Faheem Ansari, a Lashkare-Taiba operative, the police claimed.

Ansari, who is originally from Goregaon, was caught by the special task force (STF) of Uttar Pradesh in February last year along with co-accused Sabahuddin Ahmed alias Sabah and four others LeT operatives for allegedly attacking a CRPF camp at Rampur in UP on January 1, 2008.

“Ansari who had conducted a recce of 12 places in Mumbai had handed over the information to Sabah who went to Pakistan and submitted the recce details to his mentors. Sabah then returned from there through Nepal and went to UP,’’ said a senior police officer.

Sources said that the terrorists who entered the city on November
26 had studied the information provided by Ansari and Sabah for over three months. “The Pakistanis had come to Mumbai for the first time. However, they were given exact information about the places, their names, time for reaching a spot by walking, distance, even the taxi fare,’’ said an officer. Ansari and Sabah, currently in the crime branch custody, have been booked for conspiracy in the 26/11 terror attack case.

Though the UP’s police report does not mention Ansari carrying out a survey of Nariman House, a senior crime branch officer said, “He
had walked through the lanes and bylanes of Colaba and noted down minute details about Nariman House, its location, building and the surrounding areas.’’

“It was Ansari who travelled from Colaba fish market to CST, Oberoi, Gateway of India and collected all the information about roads, landmarks as well as the traffic signals. He handed over the details to Sabah who in turn submitted them to LeT top brass,’’ said the officer. Ansari, a former printing press employee in Dubai, had drawn another map to guide the Pakistanis.

During the interrogation, Ansari told the police that he was in touch with an LeT commander, Muzammil. The police found Muzammil’s number in several mobile phones seized from the nine slain Pakistani terrorists. Ansari had also rented a tworoom flat at Grant Road.


“Those who spoke to the terrorists from Pakistan are Abu Qahafa, Zarar Hussain, Muzammil and others,’’ said an officer. “We are collecting evidence to ensure we secure convictions,’’ added crime branch chief Rakesh Maria.


26/11 chargesheet
Twelve Pakistanis will be shown as wanted in the 26/11 terror attack chargesheet. They will include four top Pakistan-based LeT operatives, Saeed Hafeez, Kahafa, Abu Hamza and Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi; the others are Yusuf alias Muzzammil, Wali alias Abdul Aziz, Zarrar Shah alias Hussain Abdul Al-Qama and
Abu Talha. “We will issue red-corner notices against them through the CBI,’’ an officer said. The LeT operatives are accused of hatching a conspiracy and aiding and abetting the 10 terrorists by providing them training, finance, and indoctrination. JCP (crime) Rakesh Maria said there was evidence against all these accused who were in constant touch with the terrorists. “There are taped conversations where these LeT operatives are motivating the terrorists to sacrifice their lives in the name of religion,’’ Maria said. Cops have almost completed Mohammad Ajmal Kasab’s identification parade; witnesses include Skoda owner Arasa Sharan. — S Ahmed Ali I TNN


The Times of India, January 2, 2009