Three members of Hindu group nabbed for Malegaon, Modasa blasts


Mumbai : Three activists, including a woman, of the Madhya Pradesh-based Hindu Janjagriti Samiti (HJS) were arrested in connection with terror blasts in Malegaon and Modasa (Gujarat), a police official confirmed Friday.

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Pragnya Chandrapalsingh Thakur, Shivnarayan Singh, and Shyam Bhanwarlal Sahu were remanded to police custody till Nov 3 by a Nashik court.

The remand hearing, in a departure from normal, was conducted ‘in-camera’ by the magistrate. The court permitted only the prosecution and defence lawyers and the accused to remain during the brief proceedings Friday afternoon.

The police said the trio is accused of planning and executing the Sep 29 blast in Muslim-dominated town of Malegaon that left five dead, followed by a blast in Modasa the same day, in which one person was killed.

The explosions took place during the late evening period of the holy month of Ramadan when thousands of Muslims were out after evening prayers and breaking fast.

On the day of the blasts, Singh and Sahu were present in Malegaon and had a detailed telephonic conversation with Pragnya, according to police.

The HJS, believed to be on the terror watch list of the police, is said to have close links with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

According to the police, the HJS attempted to confuse the investigators by placing the motorcycle outside the office of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in Malegaon, bearing stickers in Urdu.

The police investigations centred around the involvement of SIMI and the now-notorious Indian Mujahideen (IM), which carried out serial blasts in several Indian cities during the past four months.

The first breakthrough came after the police traced the motorcycle’s chassis number through the Regional Transport Office (RTO). It was found to be registered in Indore in the name of Pragnya.

This is not the first time that the role of Hindu outfits has been revealed in terrorist activists.

Early this month, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had nabbed two persons belonging to the Sanathan Sanstha of Thane, in connection with the blasts in Panvel and Thane, and recovery of an unexploded bomb in Vashi in May this year.

The ATS had nabbed Ramesh Gadkari, Mangesh Nikam, Santosh Angre and two others in connection with the blasts in this connection two weeks ago.

The Sanatan Sanstha, a religious organisation engaged in imparting spiritual training, however, denied that the duo had any links with it.

Shortly afterwards, Deputy Chief Minister and state Home Minister R.R. Patil announced that the Sanatan Sanstha was a “fundamentalist” organization and the state government would recommend a ban on it.