Army officer’s arrest for terror of serious concern: Antony

November 7th, 2008 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Friday said it was “a matter of serious concern” that a high ranking army officer had been arrested in connection with the Sep 29 blast in Malegaon, which killed five people and was blamed on a Hindu radical group.“This incident is a matter of serious concern for all of us. We are determined to go to the roots of the whole thing. Maharashtra Police and IB (Intelligence Bureau) is investigating the case and so far (as the) army is concerned it is fully assisting in the investigation,” Antony said on the sidelines of the ceremony for the Raksha Mantri’s Award for excellence 2007-2008.

Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested Lt. Col. Shrikanth Purohit late Tuesday for his involvement in the Malegaon blast. Purohit is said to be a founding member of Abhinav Bharat, a Hindu rightwing group.

Concerned at the precedent that the arrest of a serving army officer on terror charges will set, Antony also told reporters that an action taken report has been sought from ATS.

“Outside agencies are investigating the issue and the defence ministry is awaiting a report. We are also taking whatever steps are required internally. The matter is being considered in full seriousness,” Antony added.

Purohit, who was doing a course in Arabic language from Army Medical Corps Pachmarhi, has been remanded in judicial custody till Nov 15.

Police suspect that Purohit helped accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, retired army Major Ramesh Upadhyaya and his associate Sharad Kulkarni in procuring explosives used in the blast. The three are already in police custody.

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