By: | Muhammad Ali Azlan |
On the midnight of 18-19 February 2007, India-Pakistan Samjhota Express train was bombed in which 68 Pakistani nationals were killed. A Hindu extremist leader Swami Aseemanand, a leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) confessed to his involvement in the vile act.
On 1 July 2009, the US Department of Treasury designated Arif Qasmani of the Lashkar-e Tayyiba as a person involved in terrorism, citing among other things his involvement in the Samjhauta Express bombing.
On 30 December 2010, India’s National Investigation Agency claimed that they had solid evidence that Swami Aseemanand was the mastermind behind the blasts. He had roped in Sandeep Dange, an engineering graduate, and Ramji Kalsangra, an electrician, to build the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in the blasts. On 8 January 2011, Aseemanand confessed to the bombing of Samjhauta express. Later the Hindu nationalist group RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) sent a legal notice to CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) accusing it of deliberately leaking Swami Aseemanand’s confession in the media. RSS spokesman Ram Madhav called the investigation maligning of organizations and individuals.
The ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails in every field at the cost of other minority groups. It is allegedly upheld and supported by the Indian defense forces secretly which it continues to do till this day.
To put the Hindutva Ideology into perspective and to establish a connection between the IDF and RSS we have to look into another event that occurred on April 6, 2008 known to us today as the Malegaon Bombing which led to a subsequent bombing of a prominent Mosque in India and the Samjhota Express Incident.
On April 06, 2006 midnight at around 01:30 AM a powerful explosion took place in the middle class locality in the Nanded at the residence of RSS worker Laxman Rajkondawar a retired irrigation engineer. The blast killed his son 29-year old Naresh Rajkondawar and 31-year old Himanshu Panse. Three others were seriously injured and one injured Rahul Pande escaped from the site but was later caught by the police.
Allegedly the police tried to cover up the whole incident by treating it as a minor blast caused by firecrackers. But things started to change. Laxman Rajkondawar’s residence where the blast took place was known to be an RSS activist in the locality and a Bajrangdal flag used to fly high on the top of his house.
The Bajrang Dal is an extremist Hindu organisation that forms the youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and a member of the RSS family of organisations. The ideology of the organisation is based on Hindu fundamentalism. Founded on 1 October 1984 in Uttar Pradesh, it has since spread throughout India, although its most significant base remains the northern and central portions of the country. The group runs about 2,500 akhadas (a place of practice with facilities for boarding, lodging and training), similar to the shakhas (branches) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Their was a writ petition seeking CBI inquiry already in the High Court ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad) started the investigations and Anil J. Tamaichekar, ACP ATS, submitted his report with some very incriminating evidence before the chief judicial magistrate.
According to the report filed by Anil J Tamaichekar, the police suspected the role of Sangh Parivar members in the bomb blasts from the diary of one of the suspects which contained their details. Apart from this, the police also recovered a photo album, a RSS diary, a cultural newsletter, and various documents belonging to the Sangh Parivar – all proving their affiliations with the organization. These photos were taken when a guy named Himanshu visited Aurangabad in 2004 with his friends, including the photograph of the mosque, taken from all sides. The police also recovered a map in which the Aurangabad mosque was marked. The police also recovered fake beard from Himanshu’s house.
The Investigating Officer further added that influenced by radical ideologies of the Sangh, Himanshu along with Manohar Pande started a gymnasium named Power Zone, with sole purpose of attracting Hindu youths and to persuade them to join their movement against the Muslims. Soon after, Himanshu and Wagh opened a Sangh branch in Nanded’s Bajrangnagar. Another accused, Yogesh started an orphanage under the banner of RSS.
These facts were revealed in the confessions made by Nanded blast by the accused during their Narco analysis and brain mapping. The Narco analysis report reveals that the accused were specially trained and funded by VHP and Bajrangdal to execute bomb blasts at mosques in Jalna, Parbhani (2003) and Purna (in 2004). It was also discovered that the bomb, which exploded in the house of a RSS member was meant to be exploded at the Aurangabad Mosque near railway station, after the Friday prayers.
The ACP further wrote in his reports that these accused used Hindu festivals like Gudi Padwa (Marathi New Year), Vijay Dashami, Durga Puja, Ganeshotsav, Ram Navami amongst others to propagate anti-Muslim ideologies.
The investigations proved that these militants were found in the bomb-making and attack on a mosque in Parbhani in 2003. Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra arrested a serving Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit along with other army officials, indicating that they were helping,training and facilitating Hindu terrorists, providing them with the military-grade explosives ‘RDX’, used in the Malegaon bombings and terrorist attacks in other Indian cities. ATS further disclosed that Lt. Col. Purohit confessed in 2007 that he was involved in bombing of the Samjhota express, which burnt 70 Pakistanis alive.
Aseemanand’s statement in the Samjhota Express blast case was recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before a magistrate. His earlier admission was recorded in the Mecca Masjid case, which was being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Sadhu Aseemanand stuck to his confession that Hindutva radicals were behind the bomb attack on the Samjhota Express.
Aseemanand, Aka Naba and Kumar Sarkar, named absconding Hindutva militants—Ramji Kaisangra and Sandeep Dange as the key plotters in that terror attack.
Sources of the NIA (National Investigation Authority-India) also disclosed that the confession in connection with the Samjhota Express blast practically rules out the involvement of other groups.
Swami Aseemanand also confessed in the court that several RSS preachers and Sang activists were directly involved in planning, financing and executing Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts. He stated that various leaders of Hindu communal organizations including Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram were also behind these blasts.
It is intriguing that in various tapes, LT. Col Purohit said, “We are all on the same plane, Hindu Rashtra (Nation)”. He even claimed that Gen. J J Singh is “with us”. (Former Singh was Army Chief till Sept. 2007). Significantly, Purohit mentioned that “one of our own captain had visited Israel”, and demanded “continuous supply of arms, training, an office with a saffron flag in Tel Aviv, political asylum and support for our cause of a Hindu Nation in the UN.” The Israelis, he added, gave “a very positive response.”
In this context, exposing the nexus between Bhartia Janta Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the then Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde disclosed on January 20, 2013 that organized training camps run by the fundamentalist parties, RSS and BJP were promoting Hindu Terrorism. He also explained that these extremist parties were behind the Samjhota Express, Meccca Masjid and Malegaon blasts. He added, “We will have to think about it (Saffron terrorism) seriously…Hindu extremist parties BJP and RSS were involved many times in Hindu Muslim violence in India, especially Gujarat and Babri masjid incident.”
The then India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid endorsed Shinde’s statement, saying that it was based on facts. Meanwhile, Indian Home Secretary R K Singh revealed that during investigation the government had found ten names of the Hindu extremists, associated with RSS, who were involved in these terror attacks including the attack on Ajmer Sharif.
Hemant Karkare (12 December 1954 – 27 November 2008) was the chief of the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS).
Karkare’s ATS identified, for the first time, Hindutva organisations as being responsible for terrorism in India, and political commentators began to call it Hindutva terror or Saffron terror.
Opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janta Party and Shiv Sena, and Hindu organizations alleged that the arrests were made under the pressure of the incumbent government, in an attempt to appease India’s Muslim population.These parties called him ‘a traitor to the nation’ for his investigation in this direction. NarendraModi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, accused the ATS of undermining the military morale. Some BJP, Rashtriya Sayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hidu Parishad (VHP) leaders accused the ATS of being used as a tool to attack the Sangh Parivar and of using illegal detention and torture.
At 9.45 p.m. on November 26, 2008, while having his dinner at his Dadar residence, he received a call about a terrorist attack at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (C.S.T.) station. He switched on the TV for news and left at once with his driver and bodyguards for C.S.T. There he donned a bullet-proof vest and helmet (shown on news channels live), and went to Platform No.1, but found it deserted. He was then informed that the terrorists had moved to the Cama and Albless Hospital (“Cama”) next to the Azad Maidan police station.
The officers, with a few constables, went into Cama from the back. A couple of constables were left stationed at the back entrance of Cama, while the rest boarded a Qualis jeep. Senior Police Inspector Vijay Salaskar asked the driver of the Qualis to let him take over at the wheel. About that time, they heard on the wireless that the terrorists were hiding behind a red car.
As they turned from the Crime Branch office towards Rang Bhavan looking for the red car, near the Corporation Bank ATM, they saw a terrorist running. Ashok Kamte, ACP of Mumbai East, or Salaskar – or both – fired, the bullet hitting the terrorist on his arm, his AK-47 fell down. He was Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive later. As they were thinking of getting down, a second terrorist, Ismail Khan appeared and fired a volley of bullets at them. All but one, Assistant Police Inspector Jadhav, died.
Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Salaskar and others died in fighting the Mumbai attacks, on 27 November 2008 in a narrow lane between St. Xavier’s College and Rang Bhavan, just a stone throw away from the Crime Branch office.
In an investigation, Headline Today, an Indian news agency, found that a substandard bulletproof jacket had been issued to Mr. Karkare. Though, according to the post mortem report, the quality of the vest was not a factor in his death.
His wife Kavita Karkare, suffered a massive brain hemorrhage on 27 September 2014 and soon slipped into coma. Thereafter she died on 29 September 2014, at age of 57.
Similarly on July 19, 2013, the Indian ex-investigating officer Satish Verma disclosed that terror-attacks in Mumbai in November 26, 2008 and assault on Indian Parliament in January 12, 2001 were carried out by the Indian government to ‘strengthen anti-terrorism laws’.
A key defence of 2008 Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who stepped out of Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai Wednesday after being granted bail by the Supreme Court, was that he had infiltrated radical Hindutva groups as an intelligence officer and had informed his superiors about it.
In interviews, Purohit maintained that the Army always stood by him. But an inquiry, conducted by the Directorate General of Military Intelligence after it was informed by the Intelligence Bureau of his involvement, found that he had taken counter-measures to dissociate himself from the blast case and generated intelligence on the alleged involvement of accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur after learning from his sources that she was going to be held by the Maharashtra ATS.
The inquiry concluded that “the officer is highly indoctrinated, deals with illegal proliferation of weapons and hiding facts”. The inquiry report also said that his wife, Aparna Purohit, “revealed that her husband has deep hatred for Islam and he may be involved in activities directed against them”.
The inquiry report, dated July 27, 2011, was signed by a Major General, the then ADG MI (B). It stated that the first information regarding involvement of Lt Col Purohit was verbally conveyed by the then IB Director to the then Chief of Army Staff on October 22, 2008. At that time, Purohit was enrolled for a course in Arabic language at AEC Training College, Pachmarhi. The Malegaon blasts, which killed eight persons and left another 80 injured, took place on September 29, 2008.
However, by the time Director of MI 9 reached Pachmarhi to confront Purohit, the report stated, the element of surprise was lost since the media had already begun reporting on the alleged involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, and the raid by the Maharashtra ATS at Purohit’s house in Pune. “Thus the officer was aware of him being subjected to questioning on specific issues. In fact, the officer had already taken adequate counter-measures to obliterate his linkages with the perpetrators by informing key persons to switch off mobile and adopt cover stories,” the report stated.
“In addition, on 13 Oct 08, on receiving confirmation from his informers about apprehension of Sadhvi by ATS, he telephonically informed CO SCLU, IO SCLU (Devlali) and initiated a written report to CCLU Team at Jabalpur intimating involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Singh in the Malegaon Bomb Blast,” the report stated.
It said that during inquiry and interrogation, “his arrogant behaviour, occasional absence from class, extreme religious mindset and attempt to purchase semi-auto carbine from… a retired AEC officer settled in Pachmarhi was revealed”. The officers who conducted the inquiry also met Purohit’s wife who “appeared in state of shock and even accused him for not heeding to her advice to disassociate with religious activities. She further revealed that her husband has deep hatred for Islam and he may be involved in activities directed against them,” the report stated.
The inquiry found that Purohit maintained a well-stocked library with books on Shivaji, Arabic language, ornithology and children’s literature. “He specifically mentioned a book written by a Marathi author on mindset of Islam. A magazine of Hindu Mahasabha (Savarkar Gp) was also placed in the house. He took pride in explaining that books on Shivaji were purchased from a defunct library. An old sword was displayed in his house which he linked to Maratha Army of Peshwas,” the report stated.
The report mentioned an SUV and six phones that the officer owned. “Between 07 Oct and 24 Oct 08, he used these mobile nos to warn his associates through direct calls and SMS. His close associates were told to switch off mobile no. and take new sim,” it stated. According to the report, when Purohit was questioned about his association with Abhinav Bharat, accused Ramesh Upadhyay and Bhonsala Military Academy, he was evasive. It said Purohit “did not give clue on the extent of his involvement”.
While, India has always accused Pakistan’s ISI of these acts of terrorism it is silent over Hindutva-terror which has obtained a new face, under the fundamentalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Nevertheless, despite the confessions of Swami Aseemanand, instead of taking action against the culprits of the Samjhota Express explosion, the Supreme Court of India accepted the bail of Swami Aseemanand.
Many of the accused have either been acquitted or released on bails while Srikant Purohit awaits his turn.
The writer tweets @MuhammadAliAzlan