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Malegaon probe: Business houses on ATS radar

Sumir Kaul in Mumbai | November 19, 2008 18:09 IST
Last Updated: November 19, 2008 18:18 IST

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The probe into how Hindu outfits accused of terrorism had links with some army men brought a few business houses under the scanner of Maharashtra's ATS and central security agencies investigating the finances of the group allegedly responsible for Malegaon blast.

Sources attached with the probe said that a religious leader from south Gujarat was one of those who collected funds from the business houses.

Working on the chain of events about finances of Abhinav Bharat, a little know saffron outfit allegedly involved in the September 29 Malegaon blast that left six people dead, sources said names of some of the business houses in Maharashtra as well as Gujarat cropped up.

A check was being done whether the business houses were aware about the end use of funds. "We have questioned some of them and we are working to ascertain as to how much of money had been handed over to the saffron outfit," a senior probe official said on the condition of anonymity.

The names of the business houses were not divulged for security reasons.

The money was generally collected by a self-styled religious leader hailing from Gujarat and efforts to seek his custody had not fructified so far, they said.

While officially there is no word except an indication from Maharashtra Director General of Police A N Roy earlier this week that a religious leader may be involved, those investigating the matter said it was not possible to reach the religious leader, who enjoyed a lot of public support in the area.

The sources said it was now evident that a self-styled godman may have a role for financing a virtual parallel terror network within the country.

These leaders have also been allegedly involved in other hate-crimes including attacks on Christans in Gujarat last year, they said.

To a question as to why this godman was not being detained for questioning, the officials indicated that the Gujarat police was not that cooperative on this issue.

"Furthermore, we cannot go alone as we will have a tough time in tackling the tribals in the area who are his followers," a senior official said.

The sources said some business houses in Gujarat and Jammu had also come to the notice of sleuths during the investigations and the same would be probed at an appropriate time.

Dayanand Pandey, the self-styled godman arrested in Kanpur in connection with Malegaon blast, played a key role in hatching the conspiracy behind the blast. He is also alleged to be one of the key persons who used to arrange finances for giving military muscle to the saffron parties.

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