IMC-USA Weekly News Digest – January 26th, 2009

IN THIS ISSUE

NEWS HEADLINES

PUROHIT PLANNED ISRAEL-BASED HINDU GOVT-IN-EXILE, SUPPORT FROM THAI CONTACTS: ATS CHARGESHEET TODAY (JAN 20, 2009, INDIAN EXPRESS)

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chargesheet in the Malegaon blast case claims that as per statements from the accused the town was singled out for the blast as "it was the ideal place where the Muslim community crowd was the maximum" and that prime accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit had told fellow conspirators it was time to set up a parallel, Hindu government-in-exile which could operate out of Israel and ensure a completely sashastra (armed) India. Purohit, according to the chargesheet, promised "all logistic help" with finances from several quarters and support from some of his contacts in Thailand. The ATS chargesheet, which includes two important confession statements, statements of witnesses under Section 164, laptop records, telephonic records, detailed SMSes and financial transactions across states, will be filed tomorrow in the designated MCOCA court chaired by sessions judge Y D Shinde.

The ATS will tell the court how a group called Abhinav Bharat became a "front organisation" for a conspiracy which led to an explosion at 9.26 pm on September 29, 2008 at Bhikku Chowk, Malegaon. While all eleven accused have been charged with conspiracy, logistics and execution of the blast, the key roles, according to the ATS, were those of Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Sudhakar Dardwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey. This will be the first case where a probe has been able to reach the conspirators – unlike other cases where only those who planted bombs have been arrested. In this case, the alleged bomb planters – Sameer Dange, Ramji Kalsangra – and Pravin Patil, another on the wanted list, remain at large. Patil also used the cover name of Mutalik and is a close aide of Purohit.

While the forensic finding of the chassis and engine number of the motorcycle used in the blast – it was a Gujarat registration number GJ-05-1920, owned by Pragya Singh Thakur – led the ATS to Gujarat, it was the statements of witnesses and the forensic report that helped the ATS build a strong case. The ATS chargesheet has relied heavily on the statement of Sudhakar Chaturvedi (37), the last to be arrested, who said Purohit had called him on September 17, asking him to give the keys of his house in Deolali to a person named Pawar. According to the ATS, Pawar handed the keys to Ramji Kalsangra who along with some others used the house to assemble the bomb that was eventually used in Malegaon. The ATS team took a picture of Ramji to the locality where Chaturvedi stayed. Two witnesses identified him and confirmed that Ramji did come to the house. A search of the house revealed remains of items used in making the bomb – this was verified by a forensic team. Evidences include recordings from the laptop of Sudhakar Dardwivedi which also has footage of various meetings.

Of the arrested, it is Rakesh Dataram Dhavde’s involvement in the conspiracy that led the ATS to slap MCOCA charges against all ten accused. Pragya Singh’s telephonic conversations recorded with accused Shyam Sahu immediately after the blasts will be included in the chargesheet. According to the ATS, the Abhinav Bharat, a group founded on June 12, 2006 in Raigad where Shivaji was coronated, initially had retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay in the role of working president. Later, under the control of Purohit, it became the "front for an agenda of creating a Hindu Rajya". While the "anger and the determination" to create a parallel government which "gives power to Hindus" can be seen in the records of the many meetings that transpired between the accused, the ATS says that it was at a meeting in Bhopal where the conspiracy for Malegaon was hatched.

Purohit was said to have convinced the group that the time had come for a parallel government – and he detailed the idea of a bomb blast.The group, according to many statements of the accused, was told about possible safe houses in Israel from where the conspirators could operate once their ideology took root and their numbers increased. According to the ATS, Pragya Singh promised "two of her men" from Gujarat. Upadhyay and Pune-based Ajay Rahirkar played key roles in logistics, conspiracy meetings and finances while Sudhakar and Sameer Kulkarni, the ATS says, were active foot soldiers of Abhinav Bharat who were paid a monthly sum of Rs 5,000 and were called ‘Chanakyas’.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story_print.php?storyid=412947

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DID 2 SUCCESSFUL OPERATIONS IN THE PAST: LT-COL IN ATS CHARGESHEET (JAN 24, 2009, INDIAN EXPRESS)

The September 29 Malegaon bomb blast may not have been the first such attack allegedly orchestrated by Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, named the main conspirator in the case, and possibly some of the other accused, according to the chargesheet filed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in a Special MCOCA court this week. In the pile of documents and evidence submitted by the ATS as part of the chargesheet is a transcript of an audio recording allegedly found on Mahant Sudhakar Dwivedi’s laptops where the arrested Army officer is quoted talking about "two operations" they had earlier conducted. Maharashtra police sources have in the past alleged that the mahant, who is also in custody, used his laptops to record all his meetings – including the ones where the Malegaon conspiracy was allegedly hatched and planned – either as audio or video files. Four of his laptops have been seized and the content has been listed in the chargesheet as evidence while some conversations have been transcribed and attached as documents.

One such transcript of an audio file created on January 26, 2008, and titled ‘sanatanbharat.wma’, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, refers to an alleged conspiracy meeting on the same day in Faridabad. It was allegedly attended by Purohit, Dwivedi, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni and Sudhakar Chaturvedi, all of whom have been arrested and charged in the case. The ATS alleges that it was at this meeting that Purohit agreed to supply the explosives for attacking Malegaon while Chaturvedi took the responsibility of arranging two men to plant the crude bomb. During this meeting, where the conversation was all in Hindi, Dwivedi allegedly tells the others that "some homework has been done about the issue they have been discussing" and that its "basic concept" is clear.

Purohit allegedly joins the conversation, according to the transcript, and says that while the matter has been discussed earlier, everyone needs to be involved in the process of taking a decision. Then he allegedly said, "Main kuch baat kahunga isse pehle kabhi nahi kahi gayi thi. Do operation humne kiye, successful ho gaye. Operation karne ki meri kshamta hain, swamiji. Mere paas equipment ki kami nahi hain. Main equipment paida kar sakta hoon. Equipment la sakta hoon. Agar jab thaan leta hoon. Lekin target chun na yeh mere ek ke vishay ke hisaab nahi hona chahiye." (I will say something which I have not talked about before. We did two operations in the past and they were successful. I am capable of doing operations. I have no dearth of equipment. I can get equipment if I take it upon myself. But choosing the target should not be my decision alone)

The transcript does not contain details of these operations and ATS officials refused to comment as the case is now awaiting trial. Defence lawyer Naveen Chomal, who is appearing for all the accused, said, "It is not appropriate to comment right now. Police might have several theories floated at this stage but to prove this in the court would not be as simple."

http://www.indianexpress.com/story_print.php?storyid=414728

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CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG – WE HAVE TO BE METICULOUS – CAUTIOUS (JAN 21, 2009, INDIAN EXPRESS)

For Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, two of the 11 chargesheeted in the Malegaon bomb blast case today by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, news that they were apparently hoping would never become public – and lead to their arrest days later – came on October 23 last year. It was the day The Indian Express first reported that the ATS was believed to have cracked the September 29 bomb blast case and suspected it to be the work of a Hindu extremist group based in Indore. Later that day, the ATS also announced that it had arrested Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur and two of her accomplices in connection with the attack which killed six Muslims during the fasting month of Ramzan. The news is believed to have triggered hectic telephonic consultations between Upadhyay and Purohit, now named the main conspirator in the chargesheet. The alleged conversations, however, were not private. Their phones had been tapped by the ATS and all the chatter recorded. Transcripts of the calls, among several others, now form a part of the chargesheet and the ATS expects they will play a big role in nailing the case. The Indian Express is in possession of transcript copies of some of those conversations between Purohit, who was in Madhya Pradesh, and Pune resident Upadhyay. The duo frequently refer to a "Mr Singh" in most of the calls, which ATS sources said was their code for Sadhvi Pragyasingh, based on the interrogation of the suspects.

The first of the transcripts are from a call made at 11.23 am., which lasted 5 minutes and 38 seconds: Purohit: Sir, have you read today’s headlines