The Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad has arrested the bomb-maker in the Ajmer Dargah blast case. He happens to be a main accused in the Vadodara Best Bakery carnage also.
Harshad Bhai Solanki alias Munna alias Raj, belonging to the Hanuman Tekri Katchi Basti of Vadodara, was nabbed in Gujarat and brought here and arrested on Monday. A court here remanded him to police custody till November 9.
Harshad Bhai was an accomplice of Sunil Joshi, main accused in the October 2007 Ajmer blast case and remained with him till the latter was murdered at Dewas in Madhya Pradesh on December 29, 2007.
Additional Director-General of Police Kapil Garg, who is also in-charge of the ATS, said Harshad played an active role in gathering bomb-making material, assembling them and packaging the bombs to Ajmer.
Best Bakery incident
Mr. Garg said the accused confessed to his involvement in the Best Bakery incident in which 14 persons were killed in arson by a mob of 500 persons on March 1, 2002. He was one of the 21 accused named in the FIR filed by Zahira Sheik, a kin of the victims, at the Pani Gate Police Station in Vadodara a day later.
Harshad was acquitted by a fast track court in Gujarat in June 2003 after 16 months of trial along with the other accused, as 37 of the 73 witnesses turned hostile. The Gujarat High Court turned down a plea for appeal.
The accused were again put to trial after the National Human Rights Commission took up the case on the basis of the eyewitness accounts from Zahira Sheik and a public interest litigation petition by social activist Teesta Setelwad in the Supreme Court.
In April 2004, the Supreme Court ordered that the case be tried in Maharashtra. “When 17 of the 21 accused in the Best Bakery case could be re-arrested, Harshad managed to escape. He was among the four who were absconding,” Mr. Garg said.
While sentencing nine of the 17 accused to life term, the Maharashtra court issued arrest warrants against the four absconding. It acquitted eight others.
Harshad was working in a team engaged in installation of mobile phone towers. His expertise was in fixing electrical components. It was during the period in hiding that he came across Sunil Joshi and conspired with him to carry out the Dargah blast, Mr. Garg said.