Samjhauta accused ‘claims’ his group planted ’06 Malegaon bombs

FP

A man accused of planting bombs on the Samjhauta Express in 2007 has allegedly told investigators that he was part of a group of Hindu extremists who planted bombs at a mosque in Maharashtra's Malegaon town in 2006 which killed 37 people and wounded more than 300.

The blasts had originally been blamed on nine Muslim men who were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and alleged to be linked to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India. The nine had claimed they had been framed in the case and seven of them were granted bail last year.

In 2011, Swami Aseemanand, an alleged Hindu extremist, reportedly confessed that radical Hindu activists were behind the 2006 blasts. He, however, retracted his confession.

Now, Rajender Chaudhary alias Pehelwan, arrested from Ujjain on Saturday in connection with the Samjhauta blasts, is believed to have told the National Investigation Agency that he, along with Dhan Singh, Ramji Kalsangra, and Amit alias Ashwini Chauhan, planted the bombs in Malegaon in 2006.

Dhan Singh, 29, was arrested by the NIA on Monday from the Uttar Pradesh-Madhya Pradesh border area near Satna on suspicion that he had planted the bomb in the 2008 Malegaon blast in which seven people were killed. Ramji and Amit continue to evade the police.

Chaudhary has allegedly told NIA officers that he, Ramji and Amit surveyed Malegaon and selected the targets. He is also believed to have claimed that slain RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi and Sandeep Dange knew about the plans to target Malegaon in 2006 during the holy Friday prayers of Shab-e-Baraat. Malegaon was chosen as it has a large Muslim population, he has allegedly said. The agency is now trying to ascertain the source of the explosives.

Sources said Chaudhary is likely to be booked in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case and a manhunt has been launched to trace Amit and Ramji who are now being suspected to be the bomb-makers.

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