ATS recovers laptops, smells breakthrough on Malegaon blast (Roundup)

November 26th, 2008 - 10:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Nov 26 (IANS) The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has recovered four laptops owned by accused Sadhvi Pragnya Chandrapal Singh Thakur, Lt. Col. Prasad S. Purohit and Dayanand Pandey and these could hold the key to the Malegaon blast conspiracy, a special court was informed here Wednesday.Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian said the ATS was investigating contents of the laptops.

The revelation once again shows that the trio of Pragnya-Purohit-Pandey mainly hatched the conspiracy, Additional Sessions Special Judge Y.D. Shinde, who presides over the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court, was informed.

The MCOCA court sent Pandey to police custody till Dec 1 after the day’s hearing.

Talking to journalists, Deputy Commissioner of Police (ATS) Dilip Srirao denied that any of the accused was forced into making statements, and also denied allegations of torture made by some of the accused.

Srirao said the ATS has so far not received the narco-analysis test reports of the accused.

An ATS source said the squad “is on the right track and would be in a position to file the chargesheets” against the 11 accused nabbed so far, within the stipulated period.

Currently, two teams of the ATS, one in Pune and another in Nashik, are engaged in vital investigations into the case.

Pandey was allegedly in the habit of using his laptop, seized when he was arrested in Kanpur Nov 14, to film and record meetings with people including fellow conspirators whom he met before the Malegaon blast.

He also used the laptop to record conversations and video-recorded many of the meetings he held with other conspirators, the source said.

Six people were killed in the blast in Malegaon town of Maharashtra on the night of Sep 29.

Meanwhile, Purohit was facing more trouble in an unrelated case.

The ATS searched his residence in Pune’s Erandavane area to look for evidence but officials refused to divulge details of the raid or seizure, if any, to the media.

In a Nashik court, giving details of Purohit’s dealings with friend Shirish Datye during his stint in the Deolali Army Cantonment three years ago, government lawyer S.S. Sangle told Judge V.V. Joshi that the army officer took Rs.25,000 from Datye, issued him a false certificate showing he was an ex-army officer and provided him an arms license and a rifle from the army quota.

The court remanded Purohit in police custody for three days, brushing aside defence apprehensions of danger to his life in the ATS custody.

Prosecution told the court that though the license was issued in the name of Datye, who is a resident of Nashik, it bore the address of Purohit’s official residential quarters in Deolali.

The weapon was purchased from the Ambarnath Ordnance Factory after which Purohit trained Datye at firing range, Sangle told the court.

The army officer then brought another rifle from Jammu and kept it first with Captain Gaurav Sood in Ahmednagar and then gave it to Datye, prosecution said.

Datye, on whose complaint the ATS registered the case against Purohit Nov 16, handed over both weapons to the police.

Submitting to the court the application forms for the licenses, prosecution pointed out that the use of whitener fluid to change the applicant’s address and signature was apparent on them.

The false certificate issued from Purohit’s Deolali cantonment office did not bear any ‘outward’ number, the court was told.

Raising doubts about Purohit’s activities which were not part of his official duty, Sangle sought the army officer’s custody for 14 days.

“Why did Purohit accept money, give the address of his official quarters for issuing arms license to someone else and favour the complainant so much?” the prosecution lawyer asked. She also sought to know why Purohit brought a double-barrel rifle from Jammu from the same forged license.

The army officer was in the ATS custody in Pune till Tuesday in connection with a similar case registered there on the basis of a complaint filed by Shirish Datye’s brother Milind.

Defence lawyer Avinash Bhide told the court the two Datye brothers, who are members of Abhinav Bharat, a rightwing Hindutva group co-founded by Purohit, were pressurized by the ATS to file complaints against their friend.

Purohit is the first serving army officer to be accused of a role in a terrorist attack.

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