People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 24 

June 14, 2009


Ajmer Blasts: Revisiting Hindutva Terror


Subhash Gatade


IT has been more than one and a half years since the great Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, based in Ajmer, Rajasthan, which is equally revered by the Hindus and Muslims, reached headlines for unforeseen reasons. On the 12th of October in 2007, it witnessed a bomb blast which saw the death of two innocents and injuries to many. In fact, it was for the first time in its history of a few centuries that the blood of innocents was seen splattered in those parts of the shrine where thousands of people gather daily to offer their prayers.

As was the routine procedure then --- when the Hindutva terror had not reached headlines --- a few fanatic Islamist groups were blamed for this ignoble incident. There were interrogations and arrests; quite a few persons were illegally detained --- presumably to extract their confessions for this act. Media was not to be left behind; it circulated juicy stories about the plans of this inhuman and barbaric act and their execution, and about definite clues about its real 'masterminds' remote-controlling from across the border. Witch-hunting of the community went on for a while. And as usually happens in such cases, after some initial hullabaloo, Ajmer blasts were relegated to a small corner in the inner pages of newspapers. People also lost interest. Perhaps more exciting news awaited them.

A few days back, however, Ajmer blasts suddenly reappeared in a section of the press, with Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) --- along with Rajasthan ATS --- making startling revelations about the perpetrators of this act. It is worth noting that the mainstream media largely ignored this news which has important ramifications for the secular fabric of the country. The Statesman carried a front page news item on April 13, followed by The Asian Age which carried it on an inside page while the Mail Today carried a three-column story on its second page on April 19. Apart from the New Delhi Television (NDTV), none of the other channels bothered to report this incident.

The crux of the revelations was that the Ajmer blasts were the handiwork of the same Hindutva terrorist group as was found involved in the Malegaon blasts and some other episodes --- Abhinav Bharat.

According to NDTV (“Abhinav Bharat under ATS Scanner for ’07 Ajmer Blast,” Rajan Mahan, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, Jaipur), Abhinav Bharat, the Hindu extremist group, involved in the Malegaon blasts, may also be the hidden hand behind the Ajmer blasts. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Rajasthan police says investigations into the blasts that shook the Ajmer Dargah in 2007, have led them to members of the Abhinav Bharat.

In an exclusive interview to NDTV, the ATS chief in Rajasthan, Kapil Garg, has admitted that Abhinav Bharat is now actively under their scanner. Also, a special team of the Rajasthan Police recently visited Mumbai to collect full statements and reports of the narco analysis and brain mapping tests done on the mastermind of the Malegaon blasts --- Lt Col S P Purohit and others accused in the Malegaon blast cases.

Police sources say that in his narco analysis and brain mapping tests, Lt Col Purohit has revealed that another member, Dayanand Pandey, also an accused in the Malegaon blast, had planned the Ajmer blast that killed 2 and injured over 20 people in October 2007.

What is Abhinav Bharat? It is a Hindu extremist group of pre-independence era that was revived in Pune in 2006 and now has a large base in Madhya Pradesh. This group, the police say may be involved in the other attacks on Islamic establishments.

Mail Today carried the story a bit further and its report, titled “Malegaon accused had role in Ajmer,” filed by Krishna Kumar, said:

“The Maharashtra ATS believes the arrest of three suspected Hindutva terrorists who had planted bombs at Malegaon is key to solving the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer Sharief blasts.

“A senior ATS official said on Saturday (April 18 --- ed) the Malegaon blast was linked to these two incidents as the same group of men, belonging to arrested Hindutva terror suspect Lt Col Srikant Purohit's Abhinav Bharat, executed the other blasts, too.

"We have evidence that the same group of men associated with the Abhinav Bharat carried out all the three blasts. If we arrest the men who planted the bombs at Malegaon, the other two cases could easily be cracked," he said.

The three suspects are Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sameer Dange and Pravin Mutalik. The ATS is hunting for the trio who, it suspects, have fled to Nepal or are hiding near the Indo-Nepal border.

The statement of the ATS official is significant as the Jaipur police, too, are investigating Abhinav Bharat's links to the Ajmer blast in October 2007.

The conversation between Purohit and Dayanand Pandey, who were arrested in connection with the Malegaon blast, revealed they were involved in other blasts, too.

While Pandey claimed the Hyderabad blast was carried out by Hindutva activists and not the ISI, Purohit boasted how he had carried out two successful operations like the Malegaon blasts in the past. The ATS believes the two operations could be the Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer Sharief blasts.

It need not be forgotten that when Malegaon investigations were going on, many names had come to the fore but the untimely death of Mr Hemant Karkare, the ATS chief of Maharashtra, in the terrorist attack in Bombay created a situation where all such people were allowed to go scot-free. Whether it is the case of Dr R P Singh, a leading physician working in a hospital in Delhi, or the case of Himani Savarkar, the president of Abhinav Bharat, or for that matter the old Saffron hand who contested the elections for the parliament from Delhi, none of them were interrogated. Himani Savarkar had given an important clue to the investigators during initial investigations, wherein she had divulged that the plan of the attack was hatched during a meeting in Indore, in her presence.

The question that naturally arises is: Why did the police act in a partial manner? There were reports that Togadia, the international secretary of VHP, had funded the Abhinav Bharat. According to the CNN-IBN report on November 24, 2008, Purohit claimed that Togadia funded the Abhinav Bharat. It said:

New Delhi: In a sensational development in the Malegaon blast case Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Prasad Purohit has claimed that Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia was involved in funding Abhinav Bharat.

“Abhinav Bharat is being investigated in connection with (the) blast of September 29 in Malegaon in which at least six people were killed.

“Lt Col Purohit, who has been arrested for masterminding the blast, reportedly claimed that Togadia provided the organisation with some funds to start out.

“The claims were reportedly made while the Lt Col was being interrogated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“He revealed that he received a call from a man who called himself the VHP’s Maharashtra chief to say that Togadia wanted to know who was investigating the Nanded blasts case.

“However, Togadia has denied his involvement with Abhinav Bharat. He said the allegations are unfounded, criminally defamatory, malafide and politically motivated.

“(With inputs from Sumon K Chakrabarti).”

It also needs to be reminded that a few other bomb blasts before Malegaon bomb blasts --- which clearly showed the involvement of Hindutva terrorists --- were not even investigated properly. The bomb blast in Kanpur (August 2007) which saw the death of two RSS/Bajrang Dal activists --- Rajeev Mishra and Bhupendra Arora --- is a case in point. The Kanpur police had even claimed that the explosives seized from the site could easily have destroyed half of Kanpur. Police had also found maps of Muslim-majority areas of Ferozabad from the house of one of the victims. How did the whole matter proceed? Narco test was done on two acquaintances of Rajeev and Bhupendra, and they were left untouched. Moreover, the police did not even bother to apprehend or interrogate two vital contacts of the victims or perpetrators whose names had surfaced during the narco test of the two acquaintances. One among them was a professor in the IIT, Kanpur and the other one was a local leader of the VHP.

Digvijay Singh, the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, who has been in the forefront as far as divulging the details of the conspiracies involving Hindutva terrorists are concerned, had made an interesting point some time back. He posed the question: Should it be called a mere coincidence that there are no bomb blasts after the arrest of the masterminds of Malegaon bomb blasts?