Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

India army officer on bomb charge

By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

Hindu holy men protest in Delhi
Holy men protest at the arrest of the priest in the Malegaon case

A serving Indian army officer is among 11 people to have been charged in connection with a bombing in western India in 2008 that killed seven people.

More than 100 people were also injured in the blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon.

The list of accused also includes a retired army major and some right-wing Hindu activists.

Several Indian cities were hit by a series of bomb blasts last year, mostly blamed on Islamic militants.

Fair trial

Lt Col Srikant Purohit was the first serving Indian army officer to be arrested in connection with a bombing.


Now anti-terrorism police in the western state of Maharashtra have filed charges against him and 10 others in a special court for aiding, abetting and conspiring to carry out the Malegaon blasts in September last year.

Another of the accused is a female Hindu priest.

All 11 have denied the allegations.

Police say they had links with a little-known militant Hindu group and conspired to attack Muslims.

Hindu nationalist groups, including the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, have questioned the allegations and have demanded that the accused receive a fair trial.

But the case has shocked many Indians, including the army, which is concerned that one of its officers has been implicated in the attack.

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