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How a budding wrestler became Hindu terrorist

delhi Updated: Dec 18, 2012 02:26 IST
Rajesh Ahuja

Alleged Samjhauta train and Mecca Masjid bomber Rajendra Pehelwan alias Samandar first wanted to be a wrestler. That’s how Pehelwan got suffixed to his name.

The next aim was to qualify for MP civil services exams. But he ended up getting involved with the gang of right-wing extremists that carried out bomb blasts in mosques and places frequented by Muslims in retaliation to jehadi terrorism in the country.

“In the initial interrogation, Samandar claimed that he cleared preliminary examination of Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission but could go further. He failed to clear the next — mains — level of exam. His claim is being verified. Before attempting to become a civil servant, sports was another arena he was interested in. He claims to have competed at national level in wrestling at junior level. But again we need to check it,” a home ministry official said.

Samandar was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday in Ujjain district where he was living in hiding for last few years.

The NIA has alleged that Samandar along with three more accused — Kamal Chauhan, Lokesh Sharma and Amit alias Ashwini Chauhan —planted four improvised explosive devices in Samjhauta on February 18, 2007 killing 68 people. Besides the Samjhauta train, he is also suspected to have planted an IED at Meeca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007.

Out of the four alleged Samjhauta bombers, only Amit is yet to be arrested. Kamal Chauhan and Lokesh Sharma have already been chargesheeted in the case and they are in judicial custody. Samandar is in NIA’s custody till December 29.

“Samandar had known Lokesh and that’s how he became part of the gang of right-wing extremist led by Sunil Joshi, an RSS prachark who was killed in December 2007,” said a source.