Army officer questioned over Samjhauta Express blast - report

MUMBAI Sun Nov 16, 2008 1:16pm IST

A policeman stands outside a burnt carriage of a Samjhauta Express train in Deewana, near Panipat town in this February 19, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

A policeman stands outside a burnt carriage of a Samjhauta Express train in Deewana, near Panipat town in this February 19, 2007 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Desmond Boylan

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - An Indian army officer who was arrested for his suspected involvement in a blast in western India, may also have supplied explosive material for a blast on a train that killed 68 people, local media reported.

Prasad Purohit, who was detained by Maharashtra state's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), may have supplied the RDX that was used to set off blasts in February 2007 on the Samjhauta Express, a bi-weekly train between Delhi and Lahore, the ATS believes.

Purohit's arrest earlier this month came on the heels of the arrests of three Hindus for their suspected involvement in blasts in Malegaon town in Maharashtra and Modasa in Gujarat in September, and is a dramatic shift from the blame usually levelled on Islamists.

"Purohit is believed to have got 60 kg of RDX and a part of it was given to (a) link and used in the Samjhauta train blast. The ATS is probing his involvement," Ajay Misar, special prosecutor for ATS, was quoted as saying in the Indian Express.

Most of those killed in the blast were Pakistanis.

Purohit was stationed at an army camp in Maharashtra at the time and obtained the RDX from Jammu and Kashmir, Misar told a local court where Purohit appeared on Saturday, the Express said.

His detention has been extended until Tuesday, a spokesman for ATS said on Sunday, without giving further details.

Last week Indian police arrested a Hindu monk charged with conspiring in the attack on Muslim-dominated Malegaon, which killed four people.

For years, bombings in India have mostly been blamed on Islamists seeking to incite hatred between the majority Hindus and minority Muslims.

Muslim leaders have accused authorities of conducting a witch hunt and reinforcing stereotypes about their community after dozens of Muslims were detained following a string of bomb attacks across the country this year.

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