Five of the nine accused arrested in connection with Malegaon blast case, were remanded to judicial custody till November 17 as preliminary probe suggested that prime accused Lt Col P S Purohit allegedly siphoned off Military Intelligence funds for terror acts.
The five accused-Maj (Retd) Ramesh Shivji Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Eknath Rahirkar, Rakesh Dattatreya Dhawde and Jagdish Chintaman Mhatre-were sent to judicial custody after their police remand ended today. Purohit will be produced in court on November 15.
As speculation persisted that more Army officers could be questioned relating to the probe into the September 29 blasts that killed six people, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil said "involvement of more Army men in the case looks unlikely".
Officials involved with the probe said that Purohit, believed to be the mastermind in the case, had allegedly diverted money from the funds meant for operational purposes of Military Intelligence and was used for setting up the Abhinav Bharat, a little known saffron group.
Initial questioning of Purohit indicated that he had developed contacts with radical elements of Hindu outfits when he was posted in the Army Liaison Cell Unit, a front cover for Military Intelligence, in 2005-06 at Pune. MORE
Officials suspect that Purohit, after being posted in Military Intelligence, used his contacts built during his tenure in Jammu and Kashmir where he was stationed with the 41 Rashtriya Rifles, for procuring RDX.
Maharashtra's Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) is looking at the possibility of the involvement of those arrested in the Malegaon blast case in other terror attacks like the 2004 blasts in the Marathwada region.
The arrested army official was also being examined by the investigators over his possible role in the 2006 Nanded blast in which four suspected Bajrang Dal activists were killed while assembling a bomb.
The 2004 blasts at the Parbhani, Jalna and Purna towns in Marathwada region were carried out near mosques and police fear that those involved in the Nanded blast could have had a role in the conspiracy to carry out the attacks.
The CBI has filed its chargesheet against ten persons for their involvement in the Nanded blast and the agency has been interacting with the ATS over the Malegaon arrests and the possibility of links between the two cases.
ATS officials said they were looking for all the 54 people who had been allegedly given training in handling of arms and explosives at Bhonsala Military School in 2001.
Some of them are believed to be involved in the blasts at Malegaon in 2006 and 2008 as well as the Nanded blast.
Six persons were killed when a motorcycle bomb exploded in Malegaon on September 29. Nine persons, including a sadhvi and former army official, have been arrested so far for their involvement in the case.