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Rajasthan cops arrest witness in Mecca Masjid case

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The Times of India

HYDERABAD: A prosecution witness in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar, 43, was arrested recently by the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (RATS) on charges of his role in the Ajmer Dargah bombing.

According to sources, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had picked up Rateshwar in connection with the Mecca Masjid case a few months ago and grilled him. In view of his knowledge of the vital portions of the case, the CBI offered to make him a prosecution witness to which he had agreed. Soon after, the CBI arrested the key terror plotter Swami Aseemanand from near Haridwar in the same case and brought him to the city.

Fearing that the Swami might spill the beans and name him in other bombing cases, Rateshwar took to his heels and disappeared from the police radar. His fears came true when the Swami spoke about his role in Ajmer Dargah bomb blast case to the RATS.

In the meantime, the RATS also gathered more evidence against Rateshwar on its own in the Dargah case and intensified the manhunt. He was finally arrested last week and produced in Ajmer district court.

Sources said that the CBI has cited Rateshwar as the PW 113 in the Calendar of Oral Evidence and also recorded his statement. The CBI chargesheet filed against the two accused __ Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma __ in the Mecca Masjid case said that Rateshwar has given a statement to the agency, which corroborates the facts of the chargesheet and would prove that on October 11, 2007 Sunil Joshi (another accused in the case who was murdered later) phoned and told him that the Ajmer blast was triggered by him with the knowledge of Indresh Kumar, a senior RSS leader.

The chargesheet further said that Rateshwar would also prove that Swami Aseemanand and Sunil Joshi were close to each other and that the Swami had provided shelter to Joshi after the Ajmer blast.

Sources said that the RATS could also make Rateshwar a witness as he has been involved with the gang that carried out bombings at various places in the country during last about six years.

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