2 Malegaon blast accused remanded in police custody till Nov 10

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Nashik, Oct 29 (UNI) Two people, including a former Armyman, who were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad from Mumbai yesterday in connection with the Malegaon blast on September 29, were today remanded in police custody till November 10.

The two accused--Sameer Kulkarni, who hails from Indore, and Ramesh Upadhyay, who is from Pune-- were produced before Justice P G Patil for allegedly providing the explosives used in the blast, that killed six people and injured 101 others.

Sameer is chief promoter and campaigner of an organisation called Abhinav Bharat, while Ramesh, a retired Major from Indian Army, was the executive president of the same organisation.

Advocate Umesh Walzade volunteered to defend the accused, but Special Public Prosecutor (ATS) Ajay Misar objected to this and said, ''The prosecution does not object if the accused wants to have a lawyer, but the accused should themselves demand it and no one should defend them on suo motto basis.'' Following this, the court asked the two accused about provision of a lawyer. While Sameer said he did not want a lawyer, Ramesh expressed his willingness in hiring a lawyer, but only in subsequent stages and till then he will defend himself.

Speaking in the court, Ramesh said, ''I have served the nation and cannot do anything detrimental to the nation. I was arrested only on suspicion basis and I am ready to cooperate with the investigating agencies and if my health condition permits, I am even ready to undergo a Narco test.'' ''I am an honoured person. My human rights should not be violated and my prestige in society should not be sacrificed at the alter of justice. We should get justice,'' he said.

In reply to this, Advocate Misar said, ''We have sufficient proof that Ramesh was in constant communication with the key accused Pragya Singh Thakur and they had a meeting at Bhonsale Military School and Educational Institute in the city.'' ''Ramesh had served in the Army and also at Artillery Centre in Nashik. After retirement in 1981, he had started a transport business. The ATS has arrested him after thoroughly checking his background,'' Advocate Misar said.

The court has given permission to conduct Narco, brain mapping and polygraphy tests of the two accused and the same will be conducted in subsequent period of time. They have been charged under sections 302, 307, 326, 324, 427, 153(A), 120(B) of IPC, sections 3, 4, 5 of the Arms Act and sections 16, 18 and 23 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

UNI GB SR SP AKJ DS1655

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