Three members of Hindu group nabbed for Malegaon, Modasa blasts


Mumbai : The Maharashtra Police have nabbed three activists, including a woman monk, of a Hindu organisation in connection with the Sep 29 terror blasts in Malegaon in the state and Modasa in Gujarat, a top police official said Friday.

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The trio – Sadhvi (woman monk) Pragnya Chandrapalsingh Thakur, alias Purna Chetanandagiri, 38, Shivnarayan Gopal Singh Kalsangra, 36, and Shyam Bhanwarlal Sahu, 42, belong to the Madhya Pradesh-based Hindu Janjagriti Samiti (HJS). They have been remanded to police custody till Nov 3 by a Nashik court, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare told the media.

The remand hearing was conducted by the magistrate in-camera. The court permitted only the prosecution and defence lawyers and the accused to be present during the proceedings Friday afternoon.

Police said the trio is accused of planning and executing the Sep 29 blast in the 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 breaking fast after evening prayers.

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 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s student wing.

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

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 activities.

Early this month, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had nabbed two people belonging to the Sanathan Sanstha of Thane in connection with the blasts in Panvel and Thane, and recovered 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 two weeks ago.

The Sanatan Sanstha, a religious organisation engaged in imparting spiritual training, however, stoutly 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.

Meanwhile, the ABVP national vice-president Milind Marathe has termed as “malicious” attempts to label it as a “terrorirst organisation”. He said that this was nothing but an effort to pamper to “vote-bank” politics.

He, however, admitted that the woman monk Pragnya, nabbed by the ATS, was a party activist since long.

However, Marathe argued that this could not be used as an excuse to term the entire student organisation as a “terror outfit”.

He added that the ABVP would initiate appropriate action against media organisations that have been spreading this news, allegedly sourcing it from the ATS.