After a 11 year chase, key accused in Ajmer blasts case held

New Delhi, Nov 26: In a major break-through the Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested an accused in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast case. Suresh Nair, was held by the ATS at Bharuch, following a tip off that suggested he was going to visit, Shukltirth, a religious place on the banks of the Narmada river.

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Bhagwat assasination plot

Pic: India Today
Pic: India Today

Is Mohan Bhagwat, the Chief of the RSS an accused as claimed by a magazine which says it interviewed Swami Aseemanand or is he is a target of some fanatics as per the probe of the National Investigation Agency.
The NIA has made it clear that no where during the investigation into Aseemanand had he ever said that Bhagwat had blessed the bombings. However an angle that they had probed was regarding an assassination plot by Sunil Joshi and others. It was found that Joshi and some of his accomplices had hatched a plan to kill Bhagwat since they were unhappy with him. Continue reading “Bhagwat assasination plot”

Bhagwat vs Aseemanand

mohan-bhagwat-500Swami Assemanand is at it once again and this time around he has named RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat. The accused in the Samjautha Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts has alleged that it was Bhagwat who sanctioned these strikes.
The National Investigation Agency which is seized off all these cases is however treading cautiously on the issue. Aseemanand is known to backtrack on his statements and has done so once in the past as well which left the NIA red faced before the court. NIA sources tell rediff.com that they will wait and watch and would not want to jump to any conclusions since these are statements given before a magazine. Not once in our entire questioning of the man has he ever named Mohan Bhagwat and hence there is no reason for us to act suo motu on the case. We will instead wait for a court order and only then act, the NIA official also pointed out.

Continue reading “Bhagwat vs Aseemanand”

NIA readies Sunil Joshi murder chargesheet

suniljoshiThe National Investigation Agency is all set to file its chargesheet in connection with the Sunil Joshi murder case. The agency which has been investigating this case for over a year now say that the motive was to ensure that secrets do not get out and also add that it was the work of his close circle.

The prime intention of the murder on December 29 2007 was to ensure that Joshi does not spill the beans on the activities. Joshi was accused of being an extremist and it was also stated that he was the one who knew everything about the Malegaon blasts. There was a tussle between him and some of associates and he had decided to come clean on the entire issue. This the NIA says was with an intention of entering into public life and he wanted a clean slate. However this did not augur well with the rest of his troop as a result of which they murdered him.

Continue reading “NIA readies Sunil Joshi murder chargesheet”

RSS terror remark- What have the investigators got?

Pic: guardian.co.uk
Pic: guardian.co.uk

The remark by Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde on terrorism and training camps run by the RSS has created a furore across the nation. It has even given the likes of Hafiz Saeed, top man of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba some ammunition to bash India.

The question is what prompted Shinde to issue such a statement linking the RSS to terrorism by some Hindu fundamentalists and if the investigators have been able to ascertain the direct role of the RSS in the various attacks that rocked the nation in the past couple of years.

Continue reading “RSS terror remark- What have the investigators got?”

Samjautha blasts- NIA gets its man

pic-sify.com
pic-sify.com

The arrest of Rajendra Chowdhary in connection with the Samjautha Express blasts is a major breakthrough for the National Investigation Agency. The 32 year old Rajendra Chowdhary has been on the list of thr NIA for quite sometime now. He had a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head and according to the NIA he was one of the persons who planted the bomb on the ill fated train. Continue reading “Samjautha blasts- NIA gets its man”

Malegaon accused gets bail

Photo courtesy: axisoflogic.com

The failure on the part of the National Investigating Agency has ensured that an accused in the Malegaon 2008 blasts case got bail. The Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Court (MCOCA) court judge Y D Shinde granted bail to accused in the case, Lokesh Sharma.
The court whil granting him bail ordered him to execute a personal bond of Rs 25000. After his arrest in connection with the Malegaon 2008 case he was produced first before the court on February 27 2012. However the NIA which ought to have filed the charge sheet within 90 days of his arrest failed to do so. The court while taking into account this discrepancy ordered that bail be granted to Sharma.
Sharma was first named by the NIA in the Samjautha blasts case. He is said to have been closely associated with Sunil Joshi and in their remand application the NIA had stated that he was the one who planted the bomb on the train.  During investigation, the NIA is said to have found links between this man the other accused in the Ajmer, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts as well.
A resident of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Sharma according to the NIA was also closely associated with terror masterminds, Ramji Kalsanghra and Sandeep Dange. The duo are however still absconding.

Godse’s Children-Hindutva Terror In India-I

His book Godse’s Children-Hindutva Terror In India is creating quite a storm. Subhash Gatade the author of the book is an engineer by training and a freelance journalist and translator by choice. He has written extensively on issues of communalism and Dalit emancipation.

His book focuses mainly on the phenomenon of Hindutva terror and their perpetrators. While discussing his book he also goes on to say that the term Hindu terror should never be used and instead it be called as Hindutva terror. In this interview with Gatade discusses why many cases remain unsolved and adds that the job of the investigating agency has been highly unsatisfactory. It is beyond a sane person’s comprehension that why the intelligence agencies or security people in the country have not taken up the task in right earnest.

Sir, please tell us a bit about your book and how it has been received?

The book mainly focuses itself on the phenomenon of Hindutva terror which has made its presence felt in the first decade of the 21 st century. It is underlined in the beginning itself that all sorts of terrorism 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.

It is broadly divided into five sections.

The first part deals with the historical background of the case and makes it clear that Hindutva terror is not a recent phenomenon. Starting from the assasination of Mahatma Gandhi, at the hands of Nathuram Godse, it also brings forth hitherto less reported incidents involving RSS activists in terror acts like the Shikarpur bomb blast(Karachi, 1947, Economic and Political Weekly, 8 July 2006) which saw deaths of two Pracharaks or the terror plot discussed by Mr Rajeshwar Dayal, the first Home Secretary of United Province then in his autobiography (A Life of Our Times, Orient Longman, 1999, pp 93) which exposed the sinister design of the RSS workers to organise a pogrom of Muslims in Western U.P.

Referring to Savarkar’s historic monograph ‘Hindutva’ (Delhi: Bharti Sahitya Sadan, 1989, pp 30) which clearly differentiates between Hinduism and Hindutva (‘Hinduism, is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva.. Here it is enough to point out that Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism‘) the book emphasises the need to term the terror turn engaged in by majoritarian formations here as ‘Hindutva terror’. It underlines that similar to the differentiation between ‘Islam as religion’ and ‘Political Islam’ we need to differentiate ‘Hinduism as religion’ and Hindutva as a political project.

The second part deals with particular cases of Hindutva terror and their perpetrators e.g. Explosion in a Gurukul in Gurgaon, RSS Pracharak Sunil Joshi’s forays into terrorism and his killing by his own people, Ajmer Bomb blast, Modasa bomb blasts etc. This section has chapters also on the role of Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti in terror acts or for that matter the Nanded bomb blast (April 2006) which really brought forth the systematic manner in which people associated with RSS and allied outfits were engaged in terror acts.

The third section throws light on the role of international linkages and networks of different Hindutva formations in collecting funds, mobilising resources and supporting the cause which has added further ferocity to this project.

The fourth section deals with how different benign looking factors are creating a conducive ground for this violent actions of Hindutva supremacists. It deals with the ‘New Age Gurus’ who are subscribers to a militant Hindutva, or role of Criminals for Hindutva and how new traditions are being invented to further the Hindutva agenda (Shastrapujas : What is Religious about worshipping weapons ?)

The last section focusses itself on the limitations of secular formations which have failed to anticipate this new terror turn in Hindutva politics. It ends with underlining the Himalayan task which awaits the investigating agencies as they are yet to nab any of the masterminds, planners, financiers and ideologues of these terror attacks despite ample evidence.

As far reception of the book is concerned, I am glad to say that it has been well received by the people. Looking at the number of emails the undersigned rec’d -with a demand that it be translated into major Indian languages – or reviews which have appeared here and there, the response could be said to be fabulous. Perhaps this has also to do with the fact that it is the first book of its kind on this theme.

Is the threat by Hindu radicals higher for India when compared to Islam?

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. 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.

As far as your question is concerned one sincerely feels that it is difficult to quantify the relative threats. Remember the period whenIndiawitnessed Khalistani terrorism, which involved a fraction of the misguided youth of the Sikh community and the danger it posed to peace and tranquility in the country then.

Why has it taken so long for the police to crack down on this phenomenon called Hindu terror?

Please do not term it Hindu terror, it should be termed Hindutva terror. We should not accord any legitimacy to those people who want to tarnish the image of Hinduism by their anti-human acts.

The delay in unearthing the phenomenon could be attributed to many factors :

We should remember that this phenomenon took wings mainly in the post ‘9/11′ ambience where US under George Bush had unleashed its war against terror which turned itself into war against Islam and people who call themselves Muslims. Our rulers then who had always cherished the idea of Hindu Rashtra found this ambience very conducive to their ’cause celibre’ and who lost no time in enacting measures which could please the US rulers. This ambience must have emboldened the Hindutva fanatics -part of the larger Hindutva family – to go for this new terror turn wherein they could do the killing themselves and call the victims themselves as perpetrators.

We should also not forget that not only the investigating agencies but the police in this country appears to be partial when it comes to dealing with issues involving biggest minority community. A cursory glance at the report of the Sachar Commission makes it very clear. The near absence of minority officers in premier investigating agencies must have impacted the probe at various levels.

Looking at the fact that the communal common sense still has a upper hand in the articulate sections of our society, it was difficult for upholders of secularism and democracy, to expose the machinations of the majoritarian communal forces.

The phenomenon could be exposed when Malegaon II (September 2008) happened where bombs were planted by Hindutva terrorists killed few innocents and the then UPA regime led by Congress – which had come under lot of attack for its dillydallying on the issue of minority protection – entrusted the responsibility for investigations to a no nonsense officer Hemant Karkare (ATS chief Maharashtra).

This particular issue does not seem to have a continuity and the issue rakes up only during high voltage political situations. Why is this the case?

If one is ready to look at the terror acts holistically then we will definitely find a continuity.

Terrorism by any particular group not only involves the actual act but also involves lot of preparation as well. It involves collecting funds, managing explosives and arms, preparing people to take up this cause, training them to use weapons, finding suitable places and occasions to enact the final version etc. And a cursory glance at any of the newspapers makes it clear that Hindutva supremacists have been very meticulous in their preparations. For example, Mr Mushrif, retired IGP of Maharashtra in his well received book ‘Who Killed Karkare’ gives details of around fifty examples randomly culled from newspapers in Maharashtra which provides details of arms training, storing of explosives etc.

The absence of ‘continuity’ (as quoted by you) could be explained in other ways.

Multiplicity of agencies engaged in investigating similar cases, lack of coordination between them, difficulty encountered by Federal agencies to undertake any case in a particular case as law and order happens to be a state subject under our constitution. Take the case of Samjhauta Express bomb blast, wherein one finds that the then Haryana Police encountered lot of resistance from its M.P. counterparts when they went to Indore to unearth few leads.

It is hoped that the formation of NIA (after the 26/11 terror attack) which has been specifically entrusted the responsibility of terror acts may remove a feeling of ‘drift’ and ‘absence of continuity’ in investigations.

                                                                                                                        To be continued…

Samjautha & ors-NIA has much to do and undo

Samjautha Express- pic, dailybhaskar
There was one thing common where the Samjautha Express, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts are concerned. All these three cases today as per the investigations are inter-linked and it is only a matter of time before the National Investigating Agency closes these cases.
The NIA has a dual job in all these cases now. Apart from having a lot to do they also have a lot to undo in all these cases. When one takes into account all these cases, at least 110 members from the Muslim community were arrested after being blamed for these attacks. While many of the accused in the Mecca Masjid blasts were let off by the court after investigations took a different turn, the same exercise will have to be conducted in the other cases as well.

Slow on Ajmer and Hyderabad:
The NIA will however be bundled with problems before all these cases come to a close. They have managed to file the chargesheet in the Samjautha case and sources say that this was done first only because of the international ramifications it has. Moreover it was also a means of putting pressure on Pakistan to act in the 26/11 case.
Activists from Hyderabad and Ajmer however say that they wished the same speed was applied in these two cases as well. Lateef Mohammad Khan from Hyderabad says that the situation is the same in Ajmer and Hyderabad and there are a lot of people awaiting justice. Only once the NIA files its chargesheet in both these cases will the innocent youth be able to rest in peace. These activists say that the accused persons in all these cases are more or less the same. However they are hoping that the probe would pick up since at the moment it appears as though these two cases have come to a stand still.

Arif Qasmani:
While this is one part of the case the other question that is being asked by several persons is the UN report relating to the Samjautha case. The UN report dated 2009 still shows Arif Qasmani, a close Dawood Aide as the key plotters of the Samjautha express blasts. Qasmani a resident of Karachi who today facilitates the movement of Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan is shown as one of the main accused in this case. It is said that he had raised funds through Dawood to fund this attack.
The Samjautha chargesheet however does make any mention of this which would mean that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba angle is not being looked into. So far as the UN report goes that would be changed once the trial is complete and the information sent across. However what investigators say is that Qasmani continues to be a major threat to India and what they have been able to ascertain is that he was the major player in the 2006 train blasts.

The Confession:
While the NIA was never easy thanks to the multiple angles in all these case, the job was made slightly easier with the confession of Swami Aseemanand. However today he has decided to withdraw the confession stating that it was done under duress. The NIA however points out that confessions are never the sole aspect of a chargesheet. The leads are picked up from the confession and independent investigations are conducted based on those leads. The withdrawal of the confession would not have any impact on the case. The links and the roles of these persons have been ascertained and now the battle is before the court. His confession also covered both the. Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts and this withdrawal will not have any impact on any of these cases, investigators also pointed out.

Indresh Kumar: This was one of the names that did the rounds all through the past few months. However Kumar has not been shown as an accused in the Samjautha chargesheet. No doubt that the NIA dug very deep into this particular angle of this case, but the fact was that the material which was found on him was not convincing enough to name him as an accused in the case. The investigators however point out that this is no indication that a clean chit has been given. It is just that more evidence needs to be brought forward in order to even name him in the case.
Moreover the case relating to Kumar is not a simple one. Considering the position that he holds any wrong move could have horrible political ramifications and hence the NIA would want to tread carefully on this aspect.
Indresh Kumar was once questioned by the CBI and is likely to be questioned by the NIA too. They would also be exploring the alleged rivalry between Colonel Purohith and Indresh Kumar in order to get further leads on this angle to the case.

The absconders:
While it is believed that the Ajmer, Samjautha and Mecca Masjid blasts were carried out by one module while the Malegaon blasts were staged by another, investigators would continue to see if the two are linked. Sunil Joshi, Ramji Kalsanghra and Sandeep Dange are the common persons in all these attacks. Swami Aseemanand too had spoken about Kalsanghra and Dange stating that they had bombed Malegaon.
While investigators feel that the big fish have been netted in all these cases, there are many aspects that remain incomplete thanks to the fact that two very crucial operatives are still missing. Dange and Kalsanghra are very crucial not only to the case but also to the busting of these modules. Take all the blasts mentioned above. These two were part of each and every meeting. They have taken part in meetings convened by Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Sunil Joshi and also Aseemanand. Moreover these were not ordinary foot soldiers and had ample information on the functioning of the entire module. The duo were extremely close to Sunil Joshi (now dead) who is considered to be the big boss of all these operations. In fact it was Joshi who wanted the Samjautha express blasts to be carried out as he wanted to eliminate the Pakistanis on the train. Not only will the duo provide information on all the operations and the manner in which the modules have been functioning, but they will also be able to help investigators find more clues on the Joshi murder, which again is suspected to be an insider job.

The extremist turf war in Nepal

The chargesheet in the Samjautha Express blasts case which was filed recently states that two crucial players in the case are still absconding. Ramji Kalsanghra and Sandeep Dange are two very crucial players, not only in this case but also in those incidents relating to the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts.

The National Investigating Agency does realise the importance of nabbing both these men and say that a finality to this entire terror cycle can be attained only once these two are in custody.

The NIA is on a hot trail of these two men, but the more important question is where are these men hiding. Some intelligence inputs go on to suggest that the moment was heat was up, they managed to slip into Nepal. This is not the first time that a person from this module has taken shelter in Nepal. Praveen Muthalik who is an accused in the Malegaon blasts too has taken the same route. He was however nabbed when he made a visit to India a couple of months back.

The Nepal corridor has been often discussed and this used to be a primary route for ISI sponsored terror groups. However there is now a clear turf war on in this country between the two modules-one from India and the other from Pakistan. According to sources in the Intelligence Bureau, most of the Pakistan based modules have now shifted operations to Bangladesh since they find that to be a safer haven.

When some fringe elements within the Abhinav Bharath set out to carry out terror attacks one of the aspects that was discussed was relating to the hideouts. Every terror group when it commences operations takes into consideration this very important aspect since they need to find a safe haven once the attack is carried out.

These elements had discussed the possibility of Nepal being a hide out once operations were completed. The main issue at that time however was that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Dawood Gang were using this base extensively and they did not want any clash with them. Over the years, they started to set up modules within Nepal and also created a safe route to slip out once an attack was carried out. This group however did not exercise this option for quite sometime since all the attacks that were being carried out by them were being attributed to the Muslims. However when the investigations took a different turn, some of the key men involved in the attacks began moving into Nepal. For this group Nepal was the best option since it is a familiar terrain for them. The language, the culture were similar and hence they found it easier to gel with the locals there and remain undercover.

Once these modules in Nepal were activated there were changes in the Lashkar modules. There was a clash between the two modules and this prompted the Lashkar to close down several of its modules and shift into Bangladesh.The Lashkar too found this to be a better option when compared to Nepal since their operatives were finding it more comfortable to be in Bangladesh once again due to the similarities in cultures.

Investigations into the Samjautha, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts have gone on to show that there are very few modules within India. These men did thrive on the moral support of some people. Moreover it was also learnt that they did want to keep their operations a secret and hence did not involve too many people. Right from the planning stages, to the logistics and then the execution, the operations were known only to a hand full of people. The plan was to build up more modules within India over a period of time while they had decided to use all the modules created in Nepal as hide outs.

The NIA is however doing a proper check on the whereabouts of the two absconding men and are even ready to bring them down from Nepal. There are no major issues on the diplomatic front to bring down criminals and hence this task should not be difficult. However they would want to be 100 per cent sure before they can make a final move. The NIA does realise that the probe will hit a road block if these two men are not nabbed and hence the trail on them is really hot.