On Friday, a day after three suspected right-wing Hindu activists were arrested in connection with the September 29 blast in Malegaon that claimed six lives, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) detained two former Army officers in Pune in the same case.
The Pune police were tightlipped. Pune Police Commissioner Satyapal Sinh and Additional Commissioner of Police Rajendra Sonavane both said they were not aware of any ATS action.
However, top Pune police sources, not authorised to speak to media, confirmed the detentions. Sources said one of the officers was Major (Retd) Prabhakar Kulkarni. He had served the Territorial Army, the military’s civilian wing, for nearly 12 years before heading the Bhonsala Military School and College, Nashik, run by the Central Hindu Military Education Society.
Sources identified the other officer only as ‘Upadhye’, working with the military intelligence.
Sources in the Southern Command Headquarters of the Indian Army at Pune said they received a directive from Delhi to probe the association of serving or retired personnel in the Malegaon blast.
Sources said the officers’ names were revealed during the questioning of arrested Hindu activists Sadhvi Pradnyasingh Thakur, Shivnarayansing Kalsangram and Shyam Sahu, all from Madhya Pradesh.
Sources said Kulkarni and Upadhye were suspected to be running a private military school. The ATS suspects they may have supplied explosives to the Malegaon bombers. Forensic tests showed that RDX was used in the attack.
Asked if there was any lack of coordination between Pune police and ATS, Sinh said the ATS’ jurisdiction covered all of Maharashtra and they could take independent action anywhere.
These are the second set of terror-related arrests in Pune. On October 6, the ATS arrested 20 suspects from across Maharashtra, eight of them from Pune. All were suspected to be Indian Mujahideen activists, most highly educated. They had set up a control room in Pune’s Kondhwa area.