Malegaon blast: NIA to interrogate accused army officer

July 19th, 2011 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, July 19 (IANS) The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was Tuesday allowed to interrogate, for eight days, Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit and two other key accused in the 2008 blast near a mosque in Maharashtra’s Malegaon town.

The permission for the custody of Purohit, Dayanand Pandey and retired army major Ramesh Upadhyaya was given by a special court set up under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) here.

The NIA recently took over the Malegaon blast probe from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and had urged the court to allow the custodial interrogation of the three accused.

Purohit is the first serving Indian Army officer accused of his involvment in any terror act in the Muslim-dominated Sukka Bazaar in Malegaon.

The ATS in a charge sheet filed in 2009 alleged that Purohit and 11 others had planned and executed the blast in Malegaon Sep 29, 2008. The bombing left six people dead.

Purohit, who was serving in Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh, was arrested in November that year.

The charges also name him for procuring explosives used in the blast and is one of the founder members of rightwing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat.

Those named in the chargesheet include Sadhvi Pragya, Sameer Kulkarni, and Rakesh Dhavade. Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, two more accused, have been declared as absconders.

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