What caused Malegaon 2006 bomb attacks?

It was nothing short of a direct frontal attack. That too, a vengeful one. A group of Muslims had foiled the attempt of Swami Aseemanand to “reconvert” the Tadwi Muslims of Akkalkuwan and Navapur tehsils of Dhulia district as well as Jalgaon mofusil areas in Maharashtra that touch upon the Dangs of Gujarat.

Some extremists had systematically and stealthily changed school leaving certificates of Hamida Mohammad Tadvi. She was enrolled in Prathemic Vidyamandir in Kolhe village of Pachora taluka. Her caste and religion were entered as “Hindu Tadwi Bhil”. Likewise, names and religions of many others were changed. Some of them were invited to the Shabri Daham Kumbh Mela (the brainchild of Swami Aseemanand) on February 11-13, 2006. It was a showpiece for the gathering of 8 to 10 lakh Hindus. Arrangements were made to transport them to the site of Shabri Kumbh Mela near Pumpa pond using the funds collected by Aseemanand. They were meant to be reconverted.

But some Muslims got wind of what was happening to their fellow religionists. They visited the region on February 5 and dissuaded the Tadwi Muslims from attending such a ceremony as they were really Muslims and nothing else. This compelled the organizers of Shabri Kumh to cancel the special ceremony of welcoming the Muslims to the Hindu fold. However, the gathering went ahead with much fanfare, attended among others by the chief of the RSS, Hindu religious leaders, activists of VHP, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matraum and others. Many noted people attended the gathering, among them was Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. She was so close to the Swami that on her arrest, he simply went into hiding. Only in November of 2010 was he arrested from Haridwar.

In the followup meetings in March 2006 and in other meetings, Aseemanand, Indresh Kumar, Pragya, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, and others met and decided to bomb Muslim populated areas of Malegaon, Hyderabad, Samjhauta express, Ajmer shrine. Their aim was to cause maximum casualty. Malegaon 2006 blasts achieved the target (thirty seven killed and 200 injured), and then the Samjhauta express bombing went beyond and killed 68.

To forestall the Tadwi samaj members from attending the Shabri Kumbh, Adivasi Unnati Mandal of Pahur in Jamner taluka of Jalgaon district organized a get together on February 5, 2006. Among its objectives was awakening of the downtrodden Tadwi Bhil Muslims, and giving them social, economic, educational and religious protection. The organizers also felt that the downtrodden were coerced by other religious groups (to join them by abandoning Islam). They assured the people that the whole samaj is with them. A handbill signed by Ahmed Burhan Khan Tadwi of Haripura, Yawal, Gujarat, Masoom Rahim Tadwi of Maharad, Chopra and Ramzan Sardar Tadwi of Palan Taluka, Rawer was circulated to achieve the above objectives.

However defensive in intention, this was perceived as a provocation. And as in the case of Babri mosque demolition, the right wing extremists made it manifest that the Muslims had it coming. This is clear from the meeting organized in Sangmeshwar, Malegaon on the eve of the bomb blasts of September 8, 2006. That public meeting of Jai Vande Matram on September 7, 2006 saw the police in induced slumber. It was a Rip Van Winkle sleep from which they have not yet woken up after more than four years. The nine Muslims who were made the scapegoat are still languishing in prison.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2011 on page no. 11

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