As the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad investigates the involvement of 10 persons arrested in connection with the September 29 Malegaon blast, central security agencies have widened the scope of the probe. Agencies are now investigating how this radical group, which formed an outfit called Abhinav Bharat, was funded and how its cadre were recruited.
Investigators told HT on Monday that the alleged mastermind, self-styled godman Dayanand Pandey, and Pune-based Shyam Apte at a meeting in January decided to identify disgruntled workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and recruit them to the outfit. Another key accused, Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, also attended the meeting.
While Pandey and Purohit have been arrested, Apte’s involvement is being investigated. The three are also under the scanner for allegedly plotting to eliminate two top RSS leaders, as first reported by HT on November 21.
Corroborative information on the outfit’s recruitment plans was also found in Pandey’s laptop, which is being examined at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Kalina, a Mumbai suburb.
Pandey and Purohit told investigators they’d decided to reach out to RSS workers who weren’t satisfied with the organization’s functioning, and give them a platform to take up the cause of Hindus by making them part of Abhinav Bharat.
They reportedly revealed they’d found many such RSS workers who believed a more hardline approach was required to not only counter the threat to Hindus from Islamic fundamentalism but also to establish a strong political standing at the Centre.
(Inputs from Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit)