M A I N   N E W S

Malegaon: Lt Col’s arrest serious matter, says Antony
More serving officers may be involved
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 7
Defence minister A.K. Antony today expressed “serious concern” over the alleged involvement of a serving Army officer, Lt Col Srikant Purohit, in the Malegaon blasts even as the security agencies were now trying to track down the source of the RDX used in the blasts that occurred on September 29.

(According to PTI, a Colonel posted in Deolali and a Major may face interrogation in connection with the probe into the blasts.

(There are reports that a retired Lt General and a couple of serving Colonels could also be involved. A Lt Col in Madhya Pradesh was reportedly picked up for questioning but there was no official word on it. More arrests are not ruled out.)

The defence ministry, on the basis of the investigations by the Maharashtra Police and the Intelligence Bureau into the case, would take necessary action against the officer, Antony told reporters here soon after an awards giving function for defence PSUs.

“We will take all necessary action on the basis of the report of the police and the IB,” he said.

Replying to a question whether he was satisfied by the investigation of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra Police, the minister said: “I am not here to give any judgement”.

The Army has said it was yet to receive any request from the police for questioning more officers.

Separately, security agencies are trying to trace the links of the explosive substance used in the blasts. Was it smuggled out from Jammu and Kashmir. A team of the ATS today briefed the Army and sought its help in locating a missing laptop of Lt Col Srikant Purohit, who has been arrested, official sources said.

The laptop could unravel the conspiracy behind the Malegaon blasts. The laptop went missing from his place of posting in Panchmari in Madhya Pradesh.

It is suspected that Purohit had established links in Jammu and Kashmir when he was posted in the Rashtriya Rifles. One of the arrested men had even travelled to Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials associated with the investigations said the procurement of explosives was a matter of grave concern. The use of RDX had been confirmed by the forensic laboratory though some doubts were raised by others agencies.

Purohit, who was doing a course in Arabic language from Army Medical Corps Pachmarhi, has been remanded in judicial custody till Nov 15.

Police suspect that Purohit helped accused Sadhvi 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.



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