Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad is considering pressing charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against all the nine accused in the Malegaon blast case, including Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, prosecution sources said on Sunday.
"So far, we have not pressed charges under MCOCA against the accused. Now we are considering booking all the nine accused under MCOCA," they told PTI.
Under MCOCA, the police can take up to 180 days to file a chargesheet against the accused in comparison to a 90-day period available to the prosecution under the normal law for the purpose.
The charges relating to terrorist activities and conspiracy behind them entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and a minimum jail term of five years, the sources said.
The sources said ATS' Special Public Prosecutor Ajay Misar and other lawyers will be seeking extension of police custody of accused Sameer Kulkarni, a founder member of radical outfit Abhinav Bharat, Ajay Rahirkar, Rakesh Dhawde and two others when they are produced before a Nashik court on Monday.
"We will seek extension of police custody of Kulkarni and four others as we feel the accused are required by the prosecution to focus on certain key aspects of the case. They will be produced before the court on Monday," they said.
Among the various angles being probed in connection with the Malegaon blast case, the ATS is investigating transfer of funds from the bank account of Lt. Col. Purohit, the first serving army officer to be arrested in the case, to Rahirkar and others for execution of the alleged conspiracy, the sources said.
The sources said the ATS is also looking into the possibility of transfer of funds through the Hawala channel from 37-year-old Purohit, suspected to be the mastermind of the blast, to Rahirkar, the treasurer of Abhinav Bharat.
The ATS is trying to locate Purohit's missing laptop, which is believed to contain certain key details about the conspiracy behind the September 29 Malegaon blast which took six lives, they said. The laptop allegedly disappeared from Panchmari in Madhya Pradesh after he was shifted to Mumbai on October 29.
"As per our investigation, Purohit attended secret meetings of Abhinav Bharat in Jabalpur and Bhopal," they said, adding that the effort is to establish a strong prosecution case backed by proper evidence.
Investigations were also underway to ascertain possible links of the nine accused with the 2006 Nanded blasts in which the CBI has chargesheeted 10 people allegedly belonging to the Bajrang Dal.
The sources in the investigating agency said two persons have been picked up from Vapi and Pune in connection with the case.
The Army, which has promised full cooperation to the ATS, has requested presence of some of its military intelligence officials during the brain mapping and narco-analysis of Purohit, they said.
The ATS believes that Purohit's laptop also contains a list of 54 people who were trained in the military school in Pune.