Thursday, May 6, 2010

ATS knew of Purohit’s role in Hyd blast

Lt. Col Prasad Purohit is the first army officer to be arrested in a bomb blast case

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Investigations into the 2007 blast in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid are now pointing to the involvement of r i g h t - w i n g Hindu outfits. However, Mah a r a s h t r a anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had in November 2008 discovered the link between Lt Col. Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast, and the explosion in Hyderabad. The ATS officials were instructed to not make it public as the suspects belonging to the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) were already in jail for the Hyderabad blast, said senior police officials. The investigating agencies then believed that the same group was behind the Ajmer blast as well.

Purohit, during his interrogation, had told the ATS sleuths that he had provided the RDX used in the Mecca Masjid blast. A member of right-wing Hindu outfit Abhinav Bharat, Purohit is believed to have played a key role in the Ajmer blast as well. The Rajasthan ATS recently arrested two persons in connection with the 2007 Ajmer shrine blast that killed three and injured 30.

The Rajasthan ATS is probing the links between the arrested suspects—Devendra Gupta and Chandra Shekhar—and Abhinav Bharat members held in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast. Gupta is said to be a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The 350-year-old Mecca mosque was built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. A blast triggered through a mobile phone killed 12 persons on May 18, 2007. “The Maharashtra ATS had told the Hyderabad police about Purohit’s suspected involvement in the blast, but the Hyderabad police did not show interest in seeking Purohit’s custody,’’ said an officer who was part of Maharashtra ATS team that probed the Malegaon blast case. “We had also recovered RDX from Purohit’s Pune home. It was then that Purohit admitted to keeping RDX at his place,’’ the officer added.

It has now emerged that slain RSS member Sunil Joshi, who is also said to be Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s boyfriend, had introduced Gupta to Thakur. The sadhvi, currently in a Nashik jail, had floated Jai Vande Matram Kalyani Samiti in 2007.

Soon after the Mecca Masjid blast, the Hyderabad police had arrested four Muslim boys, including an MBA. All the four were acquitted by a Hyderabad court. The Maharashtra ATS had submitted a CD in the court which allegedly showed Purohit saying that his group had executed two more operations in the country. Sleuths believe that Purohit was referring to the blasts in Ajmer and Hyderabad.

The Times of India, May 6, 2010

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