By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent
NEW DELHI: The alacrity with which Indian authorities have turned their attention to nabbing Hindu suspects for their alleged role in several blasts has raised questions on why has it taken for them so long to accept that it was erroneous to hold only Muslims as responsible for terrorist operations conducted here. One of the accused, the first serving army officer to be charged for aiding the saffron-brigade, Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit revealed during a narco-analysis test in Bangalore, that he had been asked to provide help in carrying out terrorist attacks in different parts of the country. Purohit had allegedly helped seer Amritanand alias Dayanand Pandey- alleged mentor of seer Pragya Singh â€“ to carry out Malegaon blasts (September 29). â€œSwami (seer) had asked Purohit to help in training around 800 cadres to execute attacks in different parts of the country,â€ an Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officer said. Pandey had introduced Purohit to Pragya, he said.
Purohit is understood to have also admitted his role in many unsolved terrorist activities, including blast cases, in the country. They apparently adopted tactics to mislead the cops in believing that Muslims should be held responsible for these activities. Purohit is believed to have been instigated by Pandey and Pragya for conducting these operations. The Hindu extremists are suspected to be responsible for 2006 Nanded blasts and the 2007 blasts in Ajmer and on Samjhauta Express train. The investigations, according to a senior officer, have revealed the â€œinvolvement of the Malegaon blast accused in the Nanded, Ajmer and Samjhauta Express blasts.â€
Questions are being raised on the passive approach adopted by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) despite its probe in Nanded blast having revealed alleged involvement of Hindu extremists. The earlier investigations had revealed that one of the accused, whose vocal chord -damaged in the blast- was cured restoring his voice, had revealed that Naresh Rajkondwar (a Bajrang Dal activist) had allegedly planned three blasts outside mosques in 2003 and 2004 in Jalna and Parbani in Maharashtra. In the Nanded blast, which occurred at residence of Laxmi Rajkondwar (allegedly a saffron brigade activist), Naresh (Laxmiâ€™s son) and Himanshu Panse (Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist) were killed while assembling the bomb. Investigating agencies recovered from Rajkondkarâ€™s house items such as Muslim skull-caps, fake beards and plans to carry out other terrorist operations.
The arrest of a few Hindus as suspect terrorists has exposed that the Indian authorities till date had been following the wrong policy of instantly arresting Muslims, despite their being no proof of their being the real culprits. The wrong anti-terrorist drive pursued by authorities only gave the actual militants time and chance to escape and continue their terrorist operations. With national elections less than a year away, politicians are trying their best to exploit the issue to their advantage.
Dismissing charges of the saffron-brigade that Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was (deliberately) targeting Hindu religious heads in the Malegaon blast probe, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said: â€œWhether it is Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism or Buddhism, they all teach us how to love each other and to respect each other. If somebody is doing this (linking religion with Malegaon), I would request him and media not to project this matter as something which belongs to a religion.â€ (Nov 15). Declining to comment on whether investigations were on the right track and on alleged involvement of Purohit along with others, Patil said: â€œI cannot give a judgment standing here without going through the papers. I will leave the issue to the investigating officers to present the case to the court and get a proper judgment.â€
Expressing his partyâ€™s support for Purohit and Pragya, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Rajnath Singh said: â€œPolitics in India has always had a deep relationship with religion in this country. I, on behalf of the BJP, want to assure the seers that maligning of their name by the UPA will not be tolerated by the party.â€ At a saffron brigade conclave in Panipat, Haryana (Nov 16), Singh said that Purohit was being falsely implicated by UPA government for Samjhauta Express blast. â€œThese investigations are inspired by political motives,â€ he said.
On its part, the Congress party has blamed BJP for openly supporting terrorism following a few arrests made recently for the Malegaon blast. â€œThe BJP is openly supporting terrorism. They are not ashamed of supporting the terror accused,â€ Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily said. â€œDo you think power can be grabbed by terrorism? What kind of politics they (BJP) are playing?â€ he asked. Asserting that terrorism does not have any religion, Moily questioned the different names used by Pandey alias Sudhakar Dwivedi who allegedly masterminded Malegaon blast. â€œHe cannot be called a Hindu terrorist as a terrorist doesnâ€™t have any religion,â€ Moily said.
Meanwhile, the left bloc leaders are voicing their demand for the center to take strict against Hindu extremist organizations just as has been taken against some Muslim extremist groups. On this, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat said: â€œWe want the central government to take firm action against organizations like Bajrang Dal just as firm action has been taken against some extremist Muslim outfits.â€ â€œWe must recognize that the Hindutva and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), which is an extreme manifestation, do not represent the Hindus though they claim to be representatives of the Hindus,â€ he said.