No question of handing Malegaon accused to Pakistan: Antony

January 20th, 2009 - 3:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Tuesday rejected suggestions from Pakistan that India hand over the army officer accused in the September 2008 blast in Maharashtra’s Malegaon town and said the attack was India’s internal matter. Stating that the Sep 26 bombing in which six people were killed was under investigation, he said: “Purohit’s case is an internal matter of India and we will handle it. Pakistan has nothing to do with this.”

“Till the investigation by the ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad) is going on, I do not want to comment on anything. We are inquiring into it. It is our responsibility. There is no question of handing over anyone to Pakistan,” Antony told reporters, referring to Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit.

Antony’s remarks follow Pakistani media reports that Islamabad may ask for the extradition of those involved in the Samjhauta Express train blast, including Purohit.

Pakistan’s Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik’s had commented: “If the Indian demand for handing over the accused in the Mumbai attacks persists, then the accused of the Samjhauta Express case might be asked for.”

Sixty-eight people were killed in the February 2007 blast on board the Delhi-Attari Express that links up with the Lahore bound Samjhauta Express.

According to the minister, there was no need to panic about the movement of troops. The armed forces, he said, were prepared to “meet any eventuality and any threat from any quarter”.

“Troops movement - there are some reports like that. Nothing to panic about that. As far as we are concerned after 26/11 (the date of Mumbai terror attack last year) our armed forces are in a state of preparedness.

“The government at the moment is concentrating on diplomatic options. The armed forces are in a state of preparedness and there is no slackening,” Antony said.

The minister also refused to acknowledge the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s statement that it would shun violence if the Kashmir problem was solved.

“This (terrorism) has nothing to do with Kashmir. Kashmir is an integral part of India. We will not entertain any intervention from any quarters,” Antony asserted.

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