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MCOCA slapped on Malegaon blast accused

Special Correspondent

Bail virtually impossible under Act; investigation will be completed within 90 days: ATS chief

MUMBAI: The Anti-Terrorism Squad has decided to invoke the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) against all 10 suspects arrested in the Malegaon blast case. It is a tough Act under which bail is virtually impossible.

At a press conference here on Thursday, ATS chief Hemant Karkare said there was no need for each of the accused to have more than one charge sheet as prescribed under the Act. There were other provisions which could be used to apply the MCOCA.

Some of the accused have cases registered against them earlier, including Lt. Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Rakesh Dhawade and Sameer Kulkarni. However, only Dhawade has been chargesheeted in an earlier case.

Mr. Karkare said one more person would be arrested. The ATS was granted a transit remand for Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who will be produced in a Nashik court on Friday. Chaturvedi was arrested by the Matunga police on November 4 for possessing a fake military identity card. He is suspected to have links with the Malegaon blast.

The ATS has invoked Sections 3 (1), 3 (2) and 3 (4) of the MCOCA. Section 3 refers to punishment for organised crime.

Under the Act, the charge sheet can be filed within 180 days as against the usual period of 90 days.

The case will now shift to the special MCOCA court in Mumbai from Nashik. Mr. Karkare said the investigation would be completed within 90 days.

He said the ATS was not under pressure to carry out this investigation and it was incorrect to impute motives. The ATS was not looking at the caste, colour or even the organisation of the suspects. The case was proceeding on the basis of evidence, he said.

It was not possible to share evidence at every stage as the process of investigation was on. Forensic test results were not yet with the ATS and he could not say whether press reports on various narco analyses on the accused were correct or not.

Mr. Karkare said financial links were being probed in connection with the blast. The ATS was working professionally and as per the law, he said in response to questions.

Samjhauta blast

On the Samjhauta train blast, he clarified that one witness had given some information which could not be taken as the gospel truth. It was subject to verification. As the ATS was investigating only the Malegaon blast, other agencies would be probing any link with various explosions, he said.

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