NIA takes over probe in three blast cases

NIA has taken over investigation of three blast cases -- Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Sharif and Malegaon.

New Delhi: Launching its probe into suspected role of right-wing groups in terror acts, a Central
probe agency has taken over investigation of three blast cases -- Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Sharif and Malegaon -- in which the cadres of Abhinav Bharat are alleged to be involved.

The cases were registered by the National Investigation Agency after the CBI and Rajasthan government gave their consent to the Union Home Ministry for handing over the probe.

NIA officials said the three cases -- Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Sharif and Malegaon 2006 -- have been registered and others including Malegaon 2008 blast case, which actually brought the alleged role of Abhinav Bharat on the forefront, would be registered later.

However, Madhya Pradesh government has put a spanner in the efforts of the Home Ministry to have a combined investigation of all cases related to Hindu terror groups by refusing to hand over the murder case of RSS activist Sunil Joshi, an accused in Samjhauta blast case, to it.

The Centre had asked the Madhya Pradesh government to handover the probe of Joshi murder case to the NIA to which the state government said that the investigations into the case had been completed and a charge sheet filed in the court.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had told reporters earlier here after presenting his monthly report that "...Sunil Joshi is not a case to be transferred. That is a little more complicated...they (NIA) have to apply in the court under different sections of the NIA Act. They will apply to the

The Home Ministry issued notification in the three cases, where right-wing terror groups` alleged involvement has surfaced, to be investigated by the NIA, which is already probing the blast in Samjhauta Express -- rail link between India and Pakistan -- in which more than 65 people were

A chargesheet has been filed in the Malegaon 2006 case by the ATS of Mumbai Police in 2006 itself naming nine accused and had pinned the blame on Lashker-e-Taiba and banned SIMI.

However, the confession of right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand before a magistrate claiming that the blast in the power loom township of Maharashtra was a handiwork of Hindu groups left the ATS red faced.

Following this, the CBI, which had remained silent on the Malegaon probe for four years, had also formed a fresh team to re-investigate the case.

There has been no headway in Mecca Masjid case while the Rajasthan ATS had carried out pain-staking investigations in Ajmer blast case and has arrested four people including Aseemanand.

On Madhya Pradesh`s reluctance to hand over the Sunil Joshi probe to the Centre, the Home Ministry has already sent a proposal to the Law Ministry seeking its legal opinion in the wake of absence of a nod from the BJP government in the state, official sources said.

Madhya Pradesh government has filed a charge sheet against certain persons, including Sadhvi Praghya Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon 2008 case, in connection with the murder of Joshi, an accused in Samjhauta Express blast case and three other cases.

The NIA Act empowers the Centre to unilaterally hand over any terror case to the agency and does not require the state government`s consent. However, the Madhya Pradesh government contends that there was no terror angle in the murder of Joshi.

Joshi was shot dead at Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, in December 2007. Samjhauta blast accused Swami Aseemanand, who is currently in jail, had in his confessional statement named
Joshi as one of the key conspirators in the right-wing extremist network.

NIA is already probing the February 2007 Samjhauta Express blast and September 2008 Modasa blast cases.


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