Blast after Blast

Written by Teesta Setalvad | Published on: August 1, 2008
Dal/VHP/RSS? Who among the RSS/VHP were involved and where in Goa were the Bajrang Dal activists trained? Who are the financiers, trainers (Mithun Chakraborty and Sanatkumar Ragvithal Bhate) and other individuals who actively participated, either directly or indirectly, in perpetrating terror attacks? Who are the retired officers of the military and intelligence services who provided martial arts and military training to Bajrang Dal activists? Why have officers who during their professional careers swore to serve secular-democratic India now chosen to place themselves at the service of Hindu extremists? For reasons best known to itself the CBI has not followed up on the leads that the ATS investigation provided.
  • The ATS named Laxman Rajkondwar, the owner of the house in which the blast occurred, among the prime accused. But the CBI charge sheet absolves him of all charges. Investigators found that firecrackers worth Rs 1,20,000 had been illegally stored at the site. Such a large quantity of highly combustible material would undoubtedly have blown up in the blast. Thus the only inference one can make is that the stock of fireworks was put in place after the blasts, as a subterfuge. From where was such a large stock of firecrackers procured at such short notice? This is a question that does not seem to concern the CBI. How did the CBI allow Laxman Rajkondwar to go scot-free?

  • The CBI not only chose to completely disregard the information gathered by the ATS through narco tests conducted on four of the accused (see box), but also gave little credence to the incriminating material seized during house searches and the admissions of some of the accused during interrogation. If the CBI had acted as it should, it would have applied for the earlier cases of bomb blasts by several of those accused in the Nanded blasts (in mosques in Parbhani, Jalna and Purna in 2003 and 2004) to be clubbed together and prosecuted as part of a wider conspiracy. Had it done so it could also have set into motion the many stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act: Section 16 (committing a terrorist act), Section 17 (punishment for funding a terrorist act), Section 18 (being part of a terrorist conspiracy), Section 19 (punishment for harbouring a terrorist) and most importantly, Section 20 (punishment for being a member of a terrorist gang). The findings of the ATS leave little room for doubt that the Bajrang Dal falls well within the act’s definition of a "terrorist gang". To pursue this line of investigation the CBI would no doubt have needed to follow up on the leads provided by the ATS. But, as mentioned earlier, it was disinclined to even consider the option.

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    Conclusion

    Through its creditworthy investigation of the accidental blast in Nanded, the ATS uncovered a dangerous terrorist network. Its investigations revealed that the bomb blasts at Parbhani, Jalna, Purna and Nanded were no ordinary crimes with simple motives. Involved in each of them were activists of the Bajrang Dal who had sought and received systematic training from experts in bomb-making and bomb explosion. Their insidious acts of terror at mosques include not just planting the bombs but also disguising themselves as Muslims while committing the crimes.

    The ATS investigations further revealed that it was not just a handful but as many as three dozen Bajrang Dalis from all over Maharashtra who received training in Pune where more than a hundred of them from all over India were similarly trained at the Bhonsala Military School in Nagpur. While the Pune camp was organised by the Bajrang Dal, the Nagpur one was organised by its parent body, the RSS. And while those directly involved in lobbing the bombs were Bajrang Dal members, there are clear indications that the RSS and the VHP also form part of the nexus. The men who imparted this training to the Dal’s cadres included retired officers of the country’s military and intelligence services.

    According to the admissions of several of the accused, their agenda was to challenge what they regarded as "Muslim bombs" with "Hindu bombs". At the same time it was clearly part of the Hindu extremist strategy to make their malevolent actions appear as if they were the work of Muslim extremists.

    All of this is truly sinister and raises several very disturbing questions:

    • Is "Hindu terrorism" now an integral part of the sangh parivar’s "Hate Muslims" agenda, at least for the Bajrang Dal, acting with the covert blessing of and logistical support from sections within the VHP and even the RSS?

    • How do we know that the Bajrang Dal and others have not been conducting similar bomb training camps in states other than Maharashtra? (After all, but for the bomb blowing up accidentally in Nanded the Maharashtra police might still be clueless about the people involved in the local terror plot. The way investigations have been conducted into the second accidental blast in Nanded in 2007 – see accompanying story – raises other serious issues.)

    • as communal violence now donned a terrorist garb on both sides of the communal divide?

    • If as part of their strategy Hindu extremists disguise themselves as Muslims and then engage in terrorist activity, could they also be responsible for sending out emails claiming responsibility for blasts under assumed Muslim names and using an Islamic vocabulary?

    • How then can we know who is responsible for the series of blasts that have ripped through a succession of Indian cities?

    • What then of national security, public peace and communal harmony?

    • Are our investigating and intelligence agencies also handicapped by their ideological blinkers insomuch as they are blind to or soft on acts of "Hindu terrorism"?

    The spate of blasts in Panvel and Thane in May-June 2008 where once again some Hindu extremist outfits have been implicated lends an added urgency to these questions. Given the CBI’s miserable failure in taking the ATS investigations forward, only an open and in depth inquiry carried out by a high court judge will help trace the tentacles of this hitherto unsuspected monster that threatens national security, public peace and harmony.


    Archived from Communalism Combat, July-August 2008. Year 15, No.133, Maharashtra, Cover Story 1