Pawns In, Patrons Still Out!
The Strange Trajectory of Investigations in Cases of Hindutva Terror
Many office bearers of RSS are also under scanner of the investigating agencies for their alleged involvement in the Samjhauta bomb blast. The NIA (National Investigating Agency) has already interrogated one amongst them. Many have been issued notices also…There are many workers of RSS from Malwanchal who are under scanner of the agency…According to informed sources a senior office bearer of the Kendriya Karyakarini (central executive) of RSS would also be questioned….Rakesh Dubey, a Vibhag Karyavah of RSS has confimed that he has received notice and is cooperating with the investigating agency.
..Seven suspected terrorists whose names find mention in the list prepared by NIA. They are Mehul alias Mafat Bhai, Bhavesh Patel, Suresh Nair, Mohan alias Ramesh Gohil, Jayantibhai Gohil aliast Ustad,. Sandeep Dange alias Parmanand, Ramji Kalasangra alias Ramchandra and Ashok alias Amit Hakla. (Bhaskar, 30 Dec 2012)
Mass movements or spontaneous outbursts of people on the streets to express their anger and anguish over the state of affairs in the country and outside have their own dynamic. While they are able to highlight/emphasise key concern(s) which inform their emergence, help us look at linkages with other issues and are able to raise many structural aspects which could have never received the attention earlier, it also happens that many other contemporary issues get relegated to the background.
Thus it was sheer coincidence that the latter half of last month when the brutal gangrape of a young girl on the streets of Delhi helped unleash people’s anger over increasing cases of sexual violence and shook the powers that be from their deep slumber, also happened to be the period when one was witness to new exposures in the yet unfolding phenomenon of Hindutva terror.
A section of the media carried reports informing the readers about arrests of foot soldiers of these terror modules, it supposedly also brought forth clinching evidence in cases which had remained unresolved till date and also provided few missing links in some other cases. The National Investigating Agency (NIA) which has been specially constituted to probe cases of terrorist attacks felt that with these arrests it would be able to get new important evidences in Samjhauta Express bomb blasts (2007), Mecca Masjid bomb blasts (2007) as well as bomb blasts in Malegaon (2006 and 2008). One also heard that finally the Maharashtra government had asked the central government to ban ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ – a ‘spiritual’ organisation headed by one Athavale whose activists have been found to be involved in many acts of terror and have been convicted as well.
But what was missing in all these news clippings was that there was no word about the real masterminds of this terror turn in Hindutva politics, the patrons who conceived plans, provided funds and managed explosives. Not that the investigating agencies were unaware of their existence, not that their names have not cropped up umpteen times during interrogation of these foot soldiers and not that these patrons of terror are living underground donning new identities but despite all these things there was no word about them. e.g. No word about one Indresh Kumar, one of the top leaders of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) who finds mention in many of the foot soldiers interrogations, one who was present in a hotel in Jaipur when the participants in the terror module were hatching plans to ‘reply ‘ the ‘others’ in kind ; no mention about Ms Himani Savarkar and the likes of Dr R.P. Singh who were present in many of the planning meetings of ‘Abhinav Bharat’ which was behind many of these terror acts; no word about a very senior leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad called Togadia who was in touch with Lt Col Purohit and held meetings with him in a hotel in Mumbai as the transcripts available with Anti-Terrorism Squad Maharashtra in connection with Malegaon 2008 bomb blast make it clear.
The changed ambience vis-à-vis these alleged patrons of terror was rightly noted by Coomi Kapoor where she was discussing the import of a BJP programme (Indian Express, inside track, 13 th Jan 2013) :
Indresh Kumar, the RSS pracharak being linked with the Hindu terror conspiracy, was sitting in a front row. A year ago, Indresh had gone underground and the RSS was extremely apprehensive that it would be tarnished because of Indresh’s alleged involvement. But these fears seem to have receded, judging by Indresh’s public appearances.
And thus while a new batch of pawns, foot soldiers, actual executioners of the grand plan to turn India into a Hindu Rasthra by organising terror attacks and blaming them on the religious minorities were put behind bars, it is becoming slowly evident that the wait for the patrons of Hindutva terror would ever remain elusive. As one analyst put it has rather started resembling the plot in the famous absurdist play by Samuel Beckett called ‘Waiting for Godot’ in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot.
Anyway before we proceed further and browse few of the news clippings which appeared during this period it would be opportune here to clarify/underline a few things:
- All sorts of terrorisms may it be by state actors or non-state actors (which includes jihadi terror/Islamist terror/fassadi terror as well) need to be questioned, challenged and ultimately eliminated. We should see to it that law of the land is applied equally in all cases — whether s/he belongs to a ‘majority’ religion or to a ‘minority’ religion.
- Every fanatic which claims allegiance to a faith and is ready to throw bombs on innocents or kill them indiscriminately — supposedly to further the ’cause’ of his/her version of religion — or ever ready to turn into a human bomb at a crowded place is a threat to humanity.
- Hindu radicals claim that it is the inaction of the government against Islamic terror which has led them to carry out such incidents. We should see it as a ‘rationale’ provided by a fanatic to justify her/his heinous act. If the Lashkar-e-Tayiba promises a young recruit that his act would bring him closer to god, for a Hindutva radical any such act would bring their ’cause célèbre’ namely Hindu Rashtra closer. A Hindutva radical finds it convenient to package his murderous game in the ‘action-reaction’ play, where you kill the other as he is ready to kill you and the government is looking the other way. There is no doubt that this action-reaction theory has many takers in our country. One even finds that many liberal-looking people also subscribe to this theory.
Bomb planter’ in Samjhauta blasts case arrested, NIA says
By Bharti Jain, TNN | Dec 15, 2012, 09.51 PM IST
NEW DELHI: In a major breakthrough in the Samjhauta train blasts case, in which 68 people including several Pakistani nationals were killed, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday arrested the “bomb planter”, Rajender Chaudhary, from Nagda in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. He is also suspected of having planted the bomb in the Mecca Masjid blasts.
The arrest is perfectly timed as it comes in the middle of Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik’s visit here. A senior NIA official, however, insisted that they were on Rajender’s trail for almost a year, and his arrest on Saturday was “co-incidental”.
Depalpur: The operational hub of RSS-led ‘Hindutva-cum-saffron terror’
Mahesh J. Mishra, DNA | Dec 26, 2012, 04:03AM IST
Indore: With arrests of three accused in a series of bomb blasts suspected to have been carried out by saffron extremists from this sleepy town in one month, Depalpur has emerged as an operational hub of recruitment and plotting of terror attacks.
The arrest of Rajendra Chudhary alias Samundar, one of accused in Samjhauta Express blasts, is believed to strengthen the NIA’s notion about Depalpur’s notoriety. Choudhary pointed out that Sunil Joshi, a RSS leader who was shot dead in Dewas in 2007, was the man behind the attacks.
Samjhauta accused claims he shot at Delhi prof Geelani in ’05
Rahul Tripathi : New Delhi, Wed Dec 26 2012, 10:27 hrs, FP Indian Exp
Alleged Samjhauta Express bomber Rajender Choudhary has “confessed” to being behind the firing on Parliament attack accused S A R Geelani. Choudhary, who is currently in NIA custody, has reportedly told investigators that he along with Ajmer dargah and Mecca Masjid bombings accused Lokesh Sharma shot at Geelani on February 8, 2005 in Delhi’s Vasant Vihar, where Geelani had gone to meet his lawyer. The Delhi University teacher had suffered serious injuries. Choudhary is learnt to have also confessed that the attack was carried out on the instructions of slain RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi.
RSS member in NIA net for 2006 Malegaon blast, Times of India, Dec 30, 2012
Taking its investigation into the 2006 Malegaon blast forward, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday arrested an RSS member as one of the main planters of the bombs. The agency arrested Manohar Singh from Gurdakhedi village in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore district on Saturday.Sources said that Singh, an active member of the RSS,(Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) was one of the four men who planted bombs strapped on bicycles near Hamida mosque on the eve of Shab-e-barat on September 8, 2006. The explosion killed 37 people and injured over 100…
NIA team visits practice sites
The Milli Gazette, 16-31 January 2013
Indore : The NIA team brought two accused of Samjhauta Express (and other blasts) to the places where they used to practice bomb blasts and inspected these places. Bagli forests, 98 kms from Indore, had been their blast training and tests.
A team led by S.P. Vishal Garg and D.S.P. Devendar Singh arrived at the village Kothra, 10 kms from the forest, accompanied by police officers and explosive experts.Dhan Singh claims, “Sadhvi Pragya and Lokendra Sharma eliminated Guruji (Sunil Joshi) due to personal rivalry.”
One can go on citing different reports which appeared at different places. Few things related to the unfolding phenomenon can easily be summarised:
- Pan India presence with international linkages :
The phenomenon of Hindutva terror, whose danger to secular democratic polity has always been underestimated has had a pan India presence and has been able to build international linkages as well.
Right from Jammu – where they were found to be involved in bomb blasts in front of a mosque – Ahl e Hadees masjid- way back in January 2004, which killed two people and injured more than twenty which was initially blamed on some Teherik Um Mujahideen - to Kanyakumari – it is now history how activists of ‘Hindu Munnani’ themselves were found to be involved in fake bomb attack on the RSS’s own office in Tenkasi, not far from Kanyakumari in the year 2007. (The idea was to foment communal riot in the communally sensitive town, thanks to the prompt investigation by the Police, they themselves are cooling their heels behind bars right now), they have established a wherewithal to strike at will and at any place more frequented by the religious minorities
- Biased Investigations
Police as well as personnel from the investigating agencies have played a very biased role in the investigations in most of these cases. – Yes there have been exceptions as well and if they would not have been there we could never had many of the Hindutva terrorists behind bars – One can cite cases after cases where they have not bothered to gather crucial evidences, not cared to engage with compassion with the community which has been at the receiving end of these attacks and moved with prejudice towards these communities only. And despite revelations to the contrary where the police was found to have made biased probe, none of them have ever been punished, forget seeking apologies from the powers that be. The investigations post Malegaon 2006 bomb blast which occurred on the day of the Shab-e-Barat could be said to be a classic case of such institutionalised discrimination and the anti-minority bias in the law and order personnel. First the Anti Terrorist Squad of Maharashtra handled the case and despite evidence to the contrary blamed it on Muslims, arrested many amongst them and put them behind bars ; CBI took over the probe when there was tremendous uproar over the way ATS had handled the case which sat over the case for five years and then itself dittoed ATS’s conclusions ; since the case was based on flimsy grounds the charges could not be sustained and the accused were granted bail. Ultimately when NIA took over the case, it would finally lead to dropping of charges against the innocents and charging the Hindutva terrorists for the heinous crime.
- The National Investigating Agency (NIA) or modern day ‘Rip Van Winkel’ ?
Thanks to NIA , it has been able to nab a fresh batch of footsoldiers this time and it could also expose the biased role of many of the police and probe personnel as explained earlier. It then becomes clear that left to itself the NIA can do a good job.
Question arises why it has taken more than ten months for it to make some fresh arrests in this case. Remember the last time one heard about arrests by NIA in cases of Hindutva terror. It was when one Kamal Patel was apprehended from M.P. itself.
Imagine, the danger posed by this majoritarian terror to the secular polity and compare the speed at which the investigations are taking place. It leads one to think whether there are forces active within the establishment who are controlling the pace of investigations? Or, Congress, which is leading the government at the Centre as well as many states is dithering on its commitment to the people of India which it formally made in its 125th anniversary celebrations held at Burari, Delhi (2010) as far as reaching the masterminds of this case and putting them to justice and it does not want that NIA goes full steam ahead in investigating the case.
One should never forget the way the Pan India network of Hindutva terrorists had come to the fore when the Hemant Karkare, head of ATS Maharashtra, undertook the investigations in the Malegaon 2008 bomb blast case
- Not a recent phenomenon
Bomb blast at the house of Laxman Rajkondwar, a longtime RSS activist on April 6, 2006, which killed his son and another activist, definitely brought to the fore this phenomenon, but it cannot be said to be the beginning of Hindutva terror. As far as terror acts such as Mhow (1999), Bhopal (2002, 2003), Nanded I (April 2006) and Nanded II (Feb 2007) to the likes of Malegaon I (Sep 2006) and Malegaon II (Sep 2008), Kanpur (August 2008), Tenkasi (2007) and many of their ilk are concerned, you will find that participation of activists of RSS or its affiliated organisation has been noted and first information reports have also been lodged underlining their involvement, but all such acts can be said to be the continuing legacy of a more hardcore section within the Hindutva fraternity, which had its genesis say in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, at the hands of Nathuram Godse. According to Chunnibhai Vaidya, a renowned Gandhian from Gujarat, there were total six attempts on Gandhi’s life during a span of 14 years which involved Hindutva radicals .One also need to bring forth hitherto less reported incidents involving Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activists in terror acts such as the Shikarpur bomb blast (Karachi, 1947, Economic and Political Weekly, July 8, 2006) which saw deaths of two pracharaks or the terror plot discussed by Rajeshwar Dayal, the first home secretary of United Province then in his autobiography (A Life of Our Times, Orient Longman, 1999) which exposed the sinister design of the hindutva workers to organise a pogrom against Muslims in western Uttar Pradesh in the immediate aftermath of partition..
IV. RSS & Terror
How does the involvement of an organisation in particular heinous acts is deciphered? There could be two ways to understand it.
Firstly, one traces the actual perpetrators/executioners of these acts who are part of such an organisation, then declare that the particular group is very much involved in these acts.
Secondly, one lays hands on decisions taken by the highest leadership of the organisation which exhorts/appeals its followers to engage in such acts supposedly to further the ’cause’.
As far as terror acts such as Mhow (1999), Bhopal (2002, 2003), Nanded I (April 2006) and Nanded II (Feb 2007) to the likes of Malegaon I (Sep 2006) and Malegaon II (Sep 2008), Kanpur (August 2008), Tenkasi (2007) and many of their ilk are concerned, you will find that participation of activists of RSS or its affiliated organisation has been noted and first information reports have also been lodged underlining their involvement.
Coming to the second layer, many accused have pointed fingers to few senior leaders of RSS for their tacit support to their work. The likes of Assemanand, Bharatbhai or accused in the first Nanded bomb blast etc, have even shared how they were exhorted by them to engage in such acts. And while the RSS has formally denied that it is involved in such terror acts, it remains to be seen how such a strict hierarchical organisation can explain ‘waywardness’ of so many of its activists.
Thirdly, a culture of violence promoted by RSS is a worrisome thing. Take a look at many reports of commissions which looked into riots in different parts of the country after independence, and you will find what has been said about it. In fact, after assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, this is what the government communique issued on February 4, 1948 said which announced the ban on RSS:
…the government has, however, noticed with regret that in practice members of RSS have not adhered to their professed ideals.Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by the members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country, individual members of the RSS have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunitions.
They have been found circulating leaflets, exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and military.
No apologies : We are Indians !
It was the year 2002 when Mr Maher Arar, a Canadian-Syrian citizen was detained at New York airport, denied legal irepresentation, and then “deported” to Syria on the false tip that he was involved with Al Qaeda.He was badly tortured there to extract information about the terror network. When the investigators realised that he was innocent, he was released. On return to Canada, the Canadian government led by a conservative Stephen Harper apologised to Mr Arar, cleared him of all terrorism charges and paid him $ 10.5 million. US government has till date not owned up its mistakes and refused to offer any apology. Discussing the case David Cole sarcastically put it in the New York Review of Books, “being American means never having to say you’re sorry.”
The Indian government at the centre and the governments in power in different states seem to follow the American policy of “not saying sorry”. Forget compensation, or forget prosecuting the guilty officers, a cursory glance at many of the terror acts involving Hindutva terrorists – which were initially blamed on Muslims – makes it clear how they have consistently refused to acknowledge there mistakes and offer any apology. The investigations into Mecca Masjid bomb blast at Hyderabad in the year 2007 seemed to be an exception. The youth who were falsely accused of involvement in the blast and badly tortured for days together were given compensation less than Rs one lakh each only when MIM (Majlis Ittehadul Musalmeen) a political party having few MLAs in A.P. assembly forced the Congress government to do it. Here also none of the police officers involved in the illegal detention and torture of scores of Muslim youth was reprimanded.