One year later, ATS says fresh leads in Malegaon probe

Written by Smita Nair | Sukanya Shetty | Mumbai | Updated: Oct 1 2009, 04:59am hrs
On September 29 last year, Shagufta Farheen, 10, had told her mother that she wanted to be a big person when she grew up, writing high in her English notebook to reflect her ooncha ambitions. But that was not to be. The same day, Shagufta and five others were killed in a blast at Bhiku Chowk.

A year later, 11 have been arrested in the case; a chargesheet has been filed against, among others, a sadhvi, Pragyasingh Thakur, and an Army officer, Lt Col Prasad Purohit; and the probe, which has spanned five states, has involved an alleged conspiracy by right wing Hindu extremists and RDX whose source is yet to be tracked.

Meanwhile, Farheens mother, Farida, is still waiting for the promised compensation from the state government and Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi, who had both announced a cash relief of Rs 1 lakh each. Her plight echoes that of the families of the other victims.

In Mumbai, additional DGP (ATS) K P Raghuvanshi is convinced that the probe is significant for our times as it finally confirmed that ATS does not go behind any religion. It tried to connect the crime to the criminals, who, in this case, happened to be people with extremist right views.

The three men who allegedly planted the bomb Ramji alias Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange and Pravin Mutalikare yet to be nabbed. Quashing reports that allege that Ramji is dead, Raghuvanshi said: Our teams are out. Ramji is alive. We have enough new leads that confirm that he is alive. We will have them soon.

But the ATS is yet to connect many dots, the most important one being, who sourced the RDX and how. Meanwhile, the paperwork that the ATS needed to give the Army is also done. They had asked us for the required details for the court martial of serving officer Lt Col Prasad Purohit. We have given all the details without compromising on the investigation, he said.

On the status of the case, Raghuvanshi said he could not talk about it as it is sub-judice, but added that the probe and exchange of information with other states is still going on.

Even as the state terrorism squad has taken a slight hit on the MCOCA charges front, the case is still strong, claimed Raghuvanshi. One must not forget that the higher courts have brought a stay on the matter. The point is that we have been given permission to proceed with the probe using all the provisions of MCOCA. So we will still have the authority to take the confession of the accused, according to the provisions of MCOCA when we nab the three bomb planters, he said.