The special NIA court on Monday acquitted all five accused in the Mecca Masjid case. One of the primary reasons that the court cited while acquitting the accused was wanted of evidence. Like the cases reported in Ajmer, Malegaon and Samjautha Express this was another one which took a u-turn where investigations were concerned. On May 18, 2007, a blast ripped across the Mecca Masjid which resulted in the death of 9 persons and injured 58 others.
Swami Aseemanand has been granted bail in the Mecca Masjid blast case. As a result of this order, he can walk free. The bail order comes a week after he was acquitted of all charges in the Ajmer blasts case.
He is likely to be released on Thursday.
The blast at Hyderabad today point towards the existence of a local module which is very much active in the city. The modus operandi points towards a similar operation that was used during the Lumbini Park and Gokul Chats attacks. Continue reading “HuJI link suspected”
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.
An unwanted controversy has arisen out of the hate speech made by MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi in Andhra Pradesh. A majority of the people have condemned this speech which is filled with hate and aimed at inciting communal tensions.
Muslims feel that there was a provocation to make such a speech, but also add that it was clearly a hate and rash speech which ought not to have been uttered by a responsible person. Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat and Latheed Mohammad Khan, General Secretary, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, Hyderabad discuss in this interview with rediff.com the actions of Owaisi.
The National Investigation Agency which arrested Rajendra Chowdhary one of the accused in the Samjautha train blasts case will take him to Hyderabad to probe his role in Mecca Masjid blasts case.
An officer in the NIA told rediff.com that he will be taken to Hyderabad and for this purpose a prisoner’s transit warrant is being readied. We will need to interrogate him for a couple of days in connection with the Samjautha case and then will take him to Hyderabad for the Mecca Masjid case. His role in the Ajmer blast too will be studied, but top on the priority for us now are the Samjautha and Mecca Masjid case, the NIA official also pointed out. Continue reading “NIA to probe Chowdhary in Mecca Masjid case”
The Mecca Masjid blast and the subsequent police firing is considered to be one of the biggest turning points in the city of Hyderabad. After much deliberation and almost after 5 years, the government of Andhra Pradesh ordered the release of Rs. 70,00,000/- (Rupees Seventy lakhs only) towards expenditure to be incurred in connection with Confidence Building Measures and Compensation for 20 cases affected in Mecca Masjid Bomb Blasts in 2007.
This is something that the Muslim community in Hyderabad has been seeking, but going by the Government order they now say that there is still some confusion and there are many more recommendations that need to be implemented.
Lateef Mohammad Khan who has led this campaign for the Muslim youth who were wrongly detained after the Mecca Masjid blasts says that the government after a very long time first submitted a half hearted apology to the youth who were falsely implicated.
The state government has stated in its GO that Rs.70 lakh towards expenditure to be incurred in connection with confidence building measures and compensation for 20 cases affected in Makkah Masjid Blast in 2007. It is also written in the G.O. that the above expenditure is to be incurred from “Administration of Mecca Masjid and Shahi Masjid Public Garden”. Here we want to make it clear that the G.O. is itself confusing, unclear, unfair because in Mecca Masjid bomb blast the people who died in the blast were Muslims, who died in the subsequent police firing were Muslims and the youth who were illegally detained and tortured were Muslims. And now the money that would be paid for compensation to the victims of police torture is from the Mecca Masjid funds. All we want to ask is why are the funds not sanctioned from the Chief Minister’s fund?
Moreover why is there no mention of any action that needs to be taken against those guilty police officers who are responsible for the torture of the innocent Muslim youth.
The Muslims argue that the recommendations made by the National Commission for Minorities in this case have not been implemented by the Andhra Pradesh government.
The NCM report-
Failure of the police to observe the due process of law while investigating the three bomb blasts in Hyderabad in 2007. Examples of this alleged dereliction of duty include the following:
Disregarding established procedures, the police fired indiscriminately into the crowd fleeing the Mecca Masjid after the blasts which resulted in the death of at least six persons
The suspects were not allowed to inform relatives of their arrest
The suspects were bundled into cars without number-plates, blind- folded and illegally detained in farm houses and private lodges for several days where they were subjected to physical and mental torture. They were stripped naked, severely beaten, administered electric shocks on various parts of their body, including the genitals, and deprived of food and water. The police used abusive language about their women folk and their faith and forced them to hail Hindu deities.No lawyer was present during interrogation of the suspects. Detainees were not produced before a magistrate for remand within 24 hours of their detention. Instead, the time of arrest was shown as later than it actually took place merely to comply with the requirement of remand within 24 hours of arrest.
The suspects were produced before a magistrate after court hours at his residence. The magistrates never asked them if they had been tortured despite tell-tale marks of recent injuries
Some of the suspects had to undergo narco tests whose results have little evidentiary value but which resulted in physical and psychological damage to them. Incidentally, the AP High Court has banned narco tests.
Recommendation: In view of the seriousness of the allegations against the police, and the less-than satisfactory responses given by them, the NCM team urges the union government to direct the CBI to enquire into all the three incidents of bomb blasts in the city in 2007. As of now, only the Mecca Masjid blast case is being investigated by the CBI.
Urgent measures are also needed to address other major grievances of the Muslim community: better education facilities in Urdu schools, creation of job opportunities for Muslim youth, adequate representation for Muslims in government employment, and notably in the police force, compensation to families who lost their members in the blasts and an early settlement of the debate now raging in the community about the allegedly indiscriminate sale of Wafk properties. This last point is a cause of much alarm considering the allegations of grave irregularities which are tantamount to a multi-crore scandal.
The NCM team is of the view that the seriousness of the charges levelled against the authorities must not deflect attention from the gravity of the security situation in Andhra Pradesh. In a power-point presentation, the high-ranking police officials provided a detailed and comprehensive account of Jehadi activities in the state and their links abroad, notably in Pakistan and Bangladesh. While it is certainly not the intention of the team to dismiss the serious issues raised in this presentation out of hand, we are firmly of the view that, in their pursuit of the extremely important goal of bringing those involved in extremist and terrorist activities to book, the police must not jettison the due process of law. This would only result in driving Muslim youth into the arms of extremists and give a fillip to those engaged in actions detrimental to communal peace and harmony.
Ten years have gone since India witnessed one of its most embarrassing attacks- The attack on the Indian Parliament. After an attack of such a magnitude one would have expected a complete clean up of the system.
If we look at the chronology of the attacks that have taken place after the parliament attack, it paints quite a pathetic picture.
Sept. 24, 2002: Akshardham temple attack in Gujarat in which 31 people were killed.
March 13, 2003: Bomb blast on commuter train in Bombay in which 11 persons were killed.
Aug. 25, 2003: Twin car bombings in Mumbai left at least 52 people dead
July 5, 2005: An attack at the Ram Janmabhoomi complex.
Oct. 29, 2005: Three major blasts in Delhi in which 59 persons were killed.
March 7, 2006: Serial blasts at Varanasi in which 28 persons died.
July 11, 2006: 200 dead in serial blasts at Mumbai. Bombs were planted in trains and incident referred to as the train blasts.
Sept. 8, 2006: 37 dead in Malegaon blasts.
February 18 2007– Samjautha Blasts
May 18, 2007: Mecca Masjid blasts at Hyderabad in which 13 persons were killed.
Aug. 25, 2007: Twin blasts at Hyderabad in which 42 persons were killed.
October 11 2007- Blast at Ajmer
November 23 2007- Blasts at a court in Uttar Pradesh.
May 13, 2008: Serial blasts at Jaipur in which 63 persons were killed.
July 25, 2008: Bangalore serial blasts in which one person was killed.
July 26, 2008: Serial blasts at Ahmedabad in which 45 persons were killed.
Sept. 13, 2008: Serial blasts in New Delhi in which 21 persons were killed.
Sept. 27, 2008: Blast in a New Delhi flower market in which one person died.
November 26 2008- One of the worst incidents on Indian soil, the infamous 26/11 attack in which over 150 persons lost their lives.
February 13 2010- Blasts at Pune’s German Bakery in which 17 persons lost their lives.
September 19 2010– Firing and blast outside Delhi’s Jama Masjid.
December 7 2010– Blast at Varanasi leaves one toddler dead
July 13 2011– Blasts in Mumbai in which 27 persons lost their lives.
September 11 2011– Blast at Delhi High Court in which 11 persons were killed.
After the Parliament attack– The Parliament attack made India realize the threat of terrorism and also woke the nation up to the capability that Pakistan really had. India realized that terror groups from across the border were capable of hitting at the epi centre of the country. While India did manage to tackle the issue of terrorism to a great extent emerging from across the border, it however sttlipped up where the issue of home grown terror was concerned. Looking above at the chronology one gets to see this picture.
There was an emergence of two types of terrorism after the Parliament attack. The Home Grown jihad and also a counter attack in the form of terrorism by Hindu radicals. There was a great deal of dominance by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in particular post the Parliament attack. However what Pakistan began to realize is that if it continued to use its own forces then there was a great chance of things getting out hand and it snow balling into a full fledged war. They had issues galore in India such as the Babri Masjid demolition and also the Godhra incident to stir up the sentiments of some Muslims. The immediate target was the Students Islamic Movement of India. The ISI did manage to tap into the more radical elements in this organization and train them for terror operations. This eventually led to the ban of the entire group which only enhanced the resolve of some of the radical elements.
However the SIMI was unable to function for too long as the security agencies were on their trail. There was a gradual break away of the SIMI and it emerged into the deadly Indian Mujahideen. Although some members of this group were readying themselves for the big job since the year 2003 itself, their emergence was seen only in the year 2007 during the Uttar Pradesh court blasts. After these blasts a mail was sent out in the name of the IM. Although no one took them seriously at that time, they did manage to prove that they were the next big force to reckon with. Intelligence Bureau officials had even termed them as the SIMI party II.
While the IM went about its operations in the most brazen manner using both technology and ideology to the fullest, the country was witness to another form of terrorism. The spate of attacks on Indian soil by Muslim radicals both from India and Pakistan angered a couple of Hindu radicals. There were a series of blasts at Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and also on the Samjautha Express. The immediate blame after these blasts once again pointed towards Islamic organizations. However it was only in the later part of 2008 did another picture come out. The Maharashtra ATS then headed by the late Hemanth Karkare while investigating the matter found that it was a group led by Colonel Purohith, Sunil Joshi and Sadhvi Pragya Singh which executed these attacks. The later part of the investigation also went on to reveal that there were more persons such as Swami Aseemanand who were involved in these attacks.
Today India cannot say with much pride that it has dealt a deadly blow to terrorists. It has multiple problems on hand and terrorism from both factions are equally dangerous. However while speaking to a couple of Intelligence Bureau officials, they would still rate the threat from across the border as deadlier. While home grown terrorism would continue to cause a nuisance value to our country, the bigger attacks would always emerge out of Pakistan and the 26/11 attack is proof of the same, they point out.
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…