Maharashtra ATS to quiz Aseemanand in 2008 Malegaon blast
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Last Updated: Friday, January 14, 2011, 22:33
Mumbai: A team of Maharashtra ATS, probing the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast, has left for Haryana to question Swami Aseemanand and seek a certified copy of his "confession" linking himself and right-wing groups to the terror act, a senior police official said on Friday.

Aseemanand, the main accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast, is currently in judicial custody in Haryana.

"Following his confession about his role and that of some groups in the 2008 Malegaon blast, our team left for Haryana on January 12 to question him. However, Aseemanand is in judicial custody now. Once the agency concerned there gets the custody of Aseemanand again, we will ensure that we get an opportunity to interrogate him," Rakesh Maria, chief of Anti- Terror Squad (ATS), told reporters here.

A certified confessional statement of Aseemanand, in which he has talked about the bomb blast, would also be sought from the probe agency concerned, he said. "After obtaining the statement, we will seek a legal opinion on it."

Seven people were killed in the September 29 explosion at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nashik district of Maharashtra.

Aseemanand is a member of the right-wing group Abhinav Bharat which was allegedly behind the blast. His name had surfaced during interrogation of one of the 11 arrested accused in the case, according to ATS sources.

However, nothing substantial had been established at that time to link him with the blast and their attempts to question him had also failed as he could not be traced, they said.

Eleven persons, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col P S Purohit, have been arrested in the blast case. Sadhvi was said to be very close to Aseemanand, but she never uttered his name during interrogation, the sources said.

A post-graduate in Botany, Aseemanand, whose real name is Jatin Chatterjee, was not shown as a wanted accused in the chargesheet filed in the end of 2008.

Meanwhile, CBI is re-investigating the 2006 Malegaon blast following the "confession" by Aseemanand that right-wing outfits were involved in the bombing.

The blast had claimed 37 lives.

Aseemanand was arrested by CBI on November 19 for his alleged involvement in the 2007 blast at Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid where nine people were killed.

He had spearheaded the drive to reconvert Hindus who had embraced Christianity in south Gujarat's Dangs district in 1998, they said.

Meanwhile, an ATS team led by Maria will attend a meeting to be organised soon by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Delhi.

The meet, to be attended by top officials of various Anti-Terror Squads, is aimed at ensuring co-ordination among the agencies probing terror cases.


First Published: Friday, January 14, 2011, 22:33

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