Close Encounters

Written by Kolse Patil | Published on: June 1, 2006

On June 1, 2006 news of the aborted attempt by Pakistan-infiltrated terrorists on the RSS headquarters in Nagpur made news headlines nationwide. Even as the chief ministers of three states, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, announced an unprecedented award of Rs 10 lakh each to the police team that was responsible for aborting the attack, the local police announced that the attack was by the ‘Fidayeen’ of Pakistan.

The police version as appearing in the local press gave out basic information that contained inherent contradictions. Intelligence of a possible attack had been received by the Nagpur police as far back as February-March 2006 (see accompanying CC interview with Special IGP, Maharashtra, ATS, KP Raghuvanshi), following which the police had provided heavy security cover at the RSS headquarters. The terrorists were shot dead in the encounter with the police who also claimed that the dead carried details of terrorist groups and links in ‘diaries’. No terrorist group has claimed any credit for this attempt.

Following doubts about the official version raised within the citizenry and the media, several groups came together to form a fact-finding team headed by a former judge of the Mumbai High Court to investigate the incident.

The team visited the site of the encounter and spoke to people residing in the vicinity; they visited the RSS headquarters and the Government Medical College Hospital. The team repeatedly sought appointments with the commissioner of police (CP), SPS Yadav and other police officials. The CP too declined to meet the team. Instead, the CP questioned the credentials of team members, asked who funded the team, what international connections the team had and similar questions with the apparent intention to intimidate the team pursuing its efforts to help society learn the truth. Nonetheless, the team gathered enough information to reach certain conclusions and place them before the people of India. Since that date the harassment of team members and attempts to malign their motives and reputation through the local media have continued unhindered. ‘Church groups’, ‘foreign funded’ and ‘supporters of naxalites’ are terms being deliberately bandied around to damage the team’s credibility.

Excerpts from the report:

According to the police, it was the special squad of the city police who, on high alert following specific input from intelligence agencies, spotted a white Ambassador car with a red beacon light (MH 20 B-8979), moving in a suspicious manner in Lakdi Pul in Mahal area and started tailing it. Two cars, a Tata Sumo and a Qualis were used in the operation. The tailing cars were unmarked and all police personnel in them were wearing plain clothes.

When the Ambassador car with red beacon atop moved towards RSS headquarters, one of the constables in the Tata Sumo casually asked the young occupants about their intentions. Rattled by the enquiry, the militants opened fire on the police vehicle even as they tried to get away. In the process they dashed into the barricade near the eastern side of the RSS HQ. The alert policemen, led by PSI Rajendra Tiwari, PSI Arvind Saraf and PSI JA More, replied to the gunfire. It was their bullet-proof jackets that saved police personnel. The terrorists also threw a hand grenade at the police party but it failed to explode. They threw the grenade without pulling out the pin.

The gun battle lasted about 20 minutes in which the militants fired 76 rounds while the policemen retaliated with 63 rounds. The terrorists had three AK-M automatic weapons, 12 hand grenades and 5.6 kg of highly explosive materials with them. They also had three spare magazines for their firearms, each carrying 30 rounds. They had 120 rounds each, according to CP Nagpur, SPS Yadav.

 

Analyses and findings

According to newspaper reports (Navbharat Mahanagar of June 5, 2006), Shri RR Patil (state home minister) had earlier stated that the government had information about the attack three months prior to the incident. Shri Nitin Gadkari, a prominent BJP leader from Nagpur, was asked to cooperate with police security. Another BJP leader, Shri Eknath Khadse had stated three weeks earlier that there was necessity to increase protection to sangh headquarters. The director general of police had paid two-three visits in this connection. Indeed, police protection around the RSS headquarters was instituted with