Indian Army officer arrested for role in Malegaon bombing (Lead)

November 5th, 2008 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) An Indian Army officer has been arrested for his suspected involvement in the Sep 29 bomb blast in Maharashtra’s Malegaon which killed five people and was blamed on a Hindu militant group, a defence official said here Wednesday.This is the first case of a serving Indian Army officer being taken into police custody for terrorism related activities.

Mumbai’s anti-terrorism squad arrested Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit late Tuesday, said the defence official, who pleaded anonymity because his service rules do not allow him to speak to the media on record.

Purohit, said to be a founding member of the Abhinav Bharat, a radical Hindu right-wing group, was being questioned for his “links” with other suspects of the Malegaon blasts.

Members of the Abhinav Bharat have been linked to the deadly bombing in Malagaon. The police suspect that Purohit helped bomb blast accused Sadhvi (Hindu missionary) 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.

“A request to detain Purohit for questioning was received yesterday (Tuesday) and the permission was granted by the Indian Army by (the) evening,” the official said.

Purohit, posted in the army’s Intelligence Corps, was sent to Mumbai by the army to the Maharashtra and Gujarat Area (M&G) headquarters six days back to facilitate ATS’ investigation.

Mumbai Police officers questioned Purohit for six days in the presence of an army official before placing him under arrest.

The ATS had sought permission to arrest the accused officer, who was doing a foreign language course from Army Education Corps college at Panchmari, so as to confront him with other arrested suspects in the case.

A first information report has also been registered against Purohit in Mumbai.

The ATS began interrogating Purohit after his name cropped up during investigations following the arrest of two retired Indian Army officers for their alleged role in the Malegaon blast.

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