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Malegaon: Arrested godman had links to J&K

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
November 13, 2008 19:31 IST
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Malegaon blast accused, Mahant Amritanand (Dayanand Pandey) who was arrested on Wednesday in Kanpur by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad has a Jammu and Kashmir link, according to police sources.

The Mahant had been a regular visitor to the Kashmir valley as well winter capital Jammu since 2003.

Maharaj Krishan Pandita, general secretary of the Zeestha Devi temple trust that manages the affairs of the Zeethyar temple located in the foothills of Zabarwan mountain range and a stone's throw from the high security Raj Bhavan told newsmen, "Swami Amritanand Pandey visited the temple in 2003. He looked like a state guest, as he was accompanied by a large number of security personnel."

"He told us he was visiting various Hindu shrines in the valley, and was also going to visit the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath," Pandita said.

He, however, asserted, "After that visit he never came here."

But police sources here confirm that the Mahant had been a regular visitor to the valley and to winter capital Jammu.

Sources also claim that it was during his 2003 visit to the valley that he met Lt Col. Srikanth Purohit, who was posted in a counter insurgency unit of the Rashtriya Rifles.

The police has been on a lookout for his contacts in the state, after they were informed about his arrest by the ATS.

"We are expecting some arrests here too based on leads from the ATS," a police officer said.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar