Five Malegaon blast case suspects sent to judicial custody

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Nasik (Maharashtra), Nov.11 : A Nasik court on Monday sent five of the total nine suspects arrested in connection with the September 29 Malegaon blast case to judicial custody till November 17.

Ramesh Shivji Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Eknath Rahirkar, Rakesh Dattatreya Dhawde and Jagdish Chintaman Mhatre were produced before the court on the expiry of their police custody.

An Indian army officer Lieutenant-Colonel Srikant Prasad Purohit, who was arrested on November 5, will be produced in court on November 15.

The officer is accused of helping Hindu militants with bomb-making and other logistics in the attack in the Muslim-dominated towns of Malegaon and Modasa in September.

Meanwhile, Mumbai's Anti-Terror Squad has claimed to have established a link between Purohit and Thane theatre blast accused Dr Hemant Chalke.

A homeopath by profession, Chalke was a sympathiser of Sanatan Sanstha and was arrested in June for doing the recce of Vashi's Bhave theatre where a bomb was found on May 31 this year.

Purohit is believed to have told cops that he knew Chalke and was in touch with him before the September 29 Malegaon blast.

The ATS may now seek Chalke's custody to question him in the Malegaon blast case. He is currently in Arthur Road jail.

Hindu God-woman Pragya Singh is among others arrested in the case.

The bomb blasts in these two towns killed five people and were blamed on a Hindu militant group.

"Police custody was not sought. It was mentioned in our remand report that we don't need police remand for three suspects. Out of the other two, one has been transferred for another offence," public prosecutor Ajay Misar said.

"Government side demanded police custody for the accused and to that we said that there is no need of it since the court has already remanded them for this reason," said Bipin Patole, counsel for the accused.

Hindu right-wing activists continued their protest outside the court against the arrest of the God-woman.

For years, bomb attacks in India have mostly been blamed on Islamist militants. Even attacks on mosques were often blamed on Islamists seeking to spark communal tensions between India's majority Hindus and minority Muslims.

Muslim leaders have accused authorities of conducting a witch hunt and reinforcing stereotypes about their community after dozens of Muslims were detained following a string of bomb attacks across the country this year.

In August, two suspected Hindu militant fundamentalists died while trying to build a bomb in the northern town of Kanpur.

ANI

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