CBI arrests Mecca Masjid blast accused

CBI arrests Mecca Masjid blast accused

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested self-styled guru Swami Asimanand for his alleged role in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast that killed nine people in May 2007. Asimanand, described as a key conspirator in the blast, was also wanted by the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for his alleged role in the Ajmer shrine blast that killed three and injured 15 people in October 2007. The Maharashtra ATS is also probing Asimanand’s role in the Malegaon blasts that killed six people in September 2008.

“We have arrested him from Haridwar in the on-going investigation relating to the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case in Hyderabad," CBI press information officer R.K. Gaur said.

“The accused was staying near Haridwar with a fake name and he also managed to get fake identity documents for himself. He was produced before the additional chief Metropolitan magistrate in Tis Hazari courts in Delhi for transit remand," Gaur said. “The court has granted him transit remand for two days. He will be produced before the designated court at Hyderabad for further remand."

The investigators suspect that Asimanand may have funded the terror activities.

Asimanand’s lawyer was not immediately reachable for comment.

The CBI registered a case on 9 June 2007 and has named five people - Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange, Ramji Kalsangra and Sunil Joshi - in the Mecca Masjid blast. It has so far questioned Gupta and Sharma, who were arrested by the Rajasthan ATS for their roles in the Ajmer Sharif blast, after taking them into custody and announced a Rs10 lakh reward for the information leading to the arrest of Dange and Kalsangra. Both Dange and Kalsangra are also named by the Rajasthan ATS in their chargesheet filed in the Ajmer Sharif blast. According to the chargesheet, Asimanand from the Dangs in Gujarat, has emerged as a key figure in the planning and execution of the bombings.

“He brought together retired Lt. Col Prasad S. Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya, who then merged their groups. His arrest will help unravel the entire network of Hindu extremist groups," a senior CBI official, close to the investigation, said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.

“Asimanand will also be questioned by the Rajasthan ATS after the CBI finishes its probe," the official said, adding that both the agencies were working with each other. Purohit and Pragya have been over their alleged involvement in the Malegaon blasts.