Lt Colonel Shrikant Purohit— arrested for his suspected role in the Malegaon blasts of September 29 — had procured 60 kg of RDX from J&K in 2006, a part of which is suspected to have been used in the Samjautha Express train explosion and Malegaon blasts, Maharashtra police told a Nashik court
<b1>This is the latest in a series of recent revelations linking the Malegaon blasts to Hindu extremist groups. The findings are prompting a new line of investigations in four unresolved terrorist strikes that targeted primarily Muslim localities. These attacks occurred over 21 months and killed 75.
The police had said Islamist groups had carried out these strikes, and claimed that they targeted Muslims to create communal tension. That theory has all but collapsed. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and investigators from Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra are now exchanging notes to broaden the scope of investigation and probe Hindu extremists.
In many cases, there now seems to be no hard evidence to nail Muslims arrested on the suspicion of having carried out terror attacks. A Hyderabad court last week acquitted four Muslim young men after investigators who were probing them for having had a role in the Mecca mosque blasts found nothing incriminating.
Probes of the blasts on the Samjhauta Express near Panipat in February 2007 and at the Sufi Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti dargah in Ajmer in October 2007 have hit dead ends. Sixty-six people, including Pakistani Muslims, had died in the Samjhauta blast. The Ajmer blast had killed three.
The net is now widening. “We are conducting a thorough probe into the Mecca mosque blast and are looking into all angles,” said a CBI spokesperson.
Rajasthan Additional Director General of Police, Arvind Kumar Jain, told HT: “The Ajmer blast probe has thrown up no clue yet. We are waiting for a signal from the Maharashtra police on if the Malegaon accused had a role here.”
Those accused of the Malegaon blast seem to be at the centre of the new line of investigation.
“We have investigators who were probing the Samjhauta Express blasts to Mumbai to grill the Malegaon accused,” said Haryana’s Director General of Police, RS Dalal.
Ten people — including a Hindu priestess, Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur, and serving and retired army officials who had allegedly trained Hindu extremists from 2003 — have been arrested in connection with the Malegaon blasts.
On Saturday, investigators in Mumbai arrested a man who is now being thought of as the mentor of Sadhvi and Lt Colonel Purohit. “Senior officials will decide when to communicate details to other agencies,” said ATS spokesperson, Dinesh Aggarwal. “The focus is on investigating the Malegaon blast case from all possible angles.”