Indian court grants bail to Hindu armed group founder

Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit is suspected of being directly involved in 2008 bombings targeting a Muslim-majority town

 

NEW DELHI(AA)-The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail to one of the founders of a rightwing Hindu armed group who was allegedly involved in the deadly 2008 bombings in west-central Maharashtra state.

On Sept. 29, 2008, two motorcycle bombs killed seven people and injured more than 100 others in the state’s Malegaon town.

Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit, who was one of the founders of Abhinav Bharat group, was arrested in 2008 for his involvement in the blasts.

Purohit had approached the apex court after the Bombay High Court dismissed his bail plea.

Sadhiv Pragya Thakur, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) leader, who had also been arrested along with Purohit in 2008, was granted bail in April this year.

Purohit’s lawyer said his client had spent nine years in jail even though no charges were framed against him.

The National Investigating Agency (NIA), which deals with terror-related cases had opposed the bail for Purohit, alleging there was evidence to prove his involvement in the 2008 blast.

In its charge sheet, the agency alleged the suspect had selected Malegaon town for the 2008 bombings because of its sizeable Muslim population.

Abhinav Bharat was formed in 2006 by Purohit and former major of the Indian army Ramesh Upadhyay in western Pune city on the pretext that it would counter attacks by armed Muslim groups. It mainly operates in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh states.

The group was investigated for its alleged roles in Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid blasts, Ajmer Sharif blast and 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings.

According to NIA investigation, the organization has serving and retired defense personnel as members and pushes Hindu youth to take up arms against Muslims.