Varanasi blast: Saffron involvement must be probed

On the banks of river Ganga, in Varanasi, a blast occurred at close vicinity while routine ritual of Aarti was being performed at Sheetla Ghat in the evening of 7th December, a day after the 18th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. A two-year-old girl died because of head injury caused by a flying piece of stone. Another casualty was of a 60 year old woman who died in the hospital five days later. About 30-35 persons were injured in consequent mad dash after blast and others under the impact of a railing which fell due to stampede. Hindustan Times (8 Dec) reported, “The low-intensity bomb used in the blast here did not have shrapnel in it and the injured were hit by pieces of wall that broke following the explosion.”

Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of U.P. Police and National Investigating Agency (NIA) are investigating the incident but as yet there is no clue.

Quoting IG Varansai, Mr. R.P. Singh, the ADG Police of U.P. Brijlal said in Lucknow the next day that, “The bomb was placed in some cavity in the wall between the Dashashwamedh and Shitla ghats and most of the persons suffered injuries due to stone splinters.” HIndustan Times (Dec 13) reported: “The blast left a heavy and dense cloud of smoke and had a deafening sound but didn’t trigger a fire.” Referring to a senior police officer, the paper further reported that, “Five days after the blast, investigators are yet to find any residue of the explosive used, remains of any circuit or detonator and even use of shrapnel in the explosive.”

Mid-Day reported on 12th Dec, “Police are still clueless about the nature of the explosive – as no splinters, remote control device, shrapnel or any electronic circuit were found from the blast site.” Quoting a senior police officer from Varanasi, the report said, “The nature of the blast and how it was triggered are two key questions before us... It’s still a puzzle for us. Until these two questions are answered, we would not be in a position to link any terror outfit with the blast.”

This shows the complexity of the situation and the intentions of the conspirators. It is clear that the conspirators did not want to harm the worshippers but to create panic and make headlines in the media. They succeeded in their aim. A highly sophisticated device ‘never heard before’ was used to trigger the blast. World knows only one country that designs such innovated devices.

Within minutes of the blast, an email of five pages was received by some media houses, purporting to be sent by a mysterious “IM” module claiming responsibility for the blasts. However, terming the blast as a “terror attack,” ADG Brijlal categorically said, “the police were not in a position to clearly state as to which outfit, organisation or module was behind the blast.” When some mediapersons in a quest to extract some spicy information of their choice, suggested names of Bhatkal brothers purportedly master-minds of “Indian Mujahedeen” module, Dr. Shah Nawaz, (brother of Muhammad Saif, an accused in police custody in Delhi serial blast case and Batla House dubious encounter) and dragged the name of Azamgarh, Mr. Lal refused to fall in the trap. Hindustan Times (9 Dec) reported: “On report of the involvement of Dr Shahnawaz, brother of IM foot soldier Mohammed Saif who was arrested in the Batla House encounter on September 19, 2008, and other youths from Azamgarh district in the Varanasi blast, Brij Lal said “it was premature to say anything as of now,” adding “As far as Shahnawaz and others, who are members of Indian Mujahideen, are concerned they are wanted in several cases of blasts in different states.... As I have already said, one cannot pinpoint any particular person or organisation at this juncture.” In New Delhi, union home secretary G.K. Pillai said “It was a low intensity blast which occurred around 6.20 pm.” He rejected the suggestions to link the crime to some particular person or group as “premature”. 

However, within minutes of the blast, TV channels started flashing non-stop stories with graphic details raising accusing fingers on some Muslims. The sensationalist media ignored the facts on the ground as well as the specific information provided by senior officials directly linked to the investigation. Instead, they based their fascinating stories on the dubious email and a statement made by a Maharashtra police officer, who was not even remotely related to the investigation. The Hindu (9 Dec) reported, “The police claimed on Wednesday that the blast was planned from Pakistan and Bhatkal brothers (Riyaz and Iqbal) were involved in it.... The main players of IM are based in Pakistan, and they are running this. Even Bhatkal brothers are definitely there,” Mumbai Commissioner of Police, Sanjeev Dayal, told journalists.

It is not clear how Mr. Dayal, sitting thousands of kilometers away, knew what he stated so assertively in Varanasi blast case? He must reveal if he has some conclusive evidence involving particular persons or organization. It is important as Mr. Dayal squarely contradicted the union home secretary Mr. Pillai and ADG Mr. Brijlal who was directly supervising the investigation as head of U.P. ATS.

Bombay police has miserably failed to find the person(s) behind such mails. Was Mr. Dayal hiding his failure by making wild allegations against some Muslims? How can a police officer afford to ignore the possibility of the involvement of terror groups linked with Sangh Privar who are involved in most of the heinous terror attacks in the country? Such an explosive device, which has puzzled our investigators, may only be in the reach of saffron brigade from their friends in Israel. A strong possibility exists that the tactic of sending emails is used to mislead the investigators and to malign Muslims by the saffronites and their Zionist friends.

Mr. Dayal further claimed, “The email was sent from an unsecured Airtel broadband WiFi connection.” He refused to name the owner of the connection, saying the person was innocent and his connection was used without his knowledge. However, Asian Age (9 Dec) quoted a senior crime branch officer who said, The wi-fi connection is registered in the name of Mithilesh Talreja (32), a resident of Mansarovar building in Sector 17 in Vashi. “Mithilesh is a business development executive with a major telecom firm and lives with his brother Akhil”. Speaking to the Asian Age, Akhil said, “We had secured our connection with a password, but they must have managed to crack it.”

Obviously, Mr. Dayal ignored this crucial information provided by Akhil and exhibited exemplary haste to exonerate Mr. Talreja and his brother in the sensitive matter of terrorism. He did not even bother to investigate the possibility of Talreja brothers’ involvement and let them go as “innocents”. Only IT experts can decide if their wi-fi connection was used after cracking their password or not.

It is not clear whether the Mumbai Police Commissioner himself decided to hide the identity of the owner of the wi-fi connection used to send IM’s email and hold him “innocent” within minutes of his arriving at the Police HQ or acted on behalf of someone else? However, young Talreja and his brother Akhil cannot be beyond doubt as Talreja is a senior executive with a major telecom firm and it is difficult to believe that he was unaware of the risk of his connection if it was indeed insecure.

In support of his theory of IM’s involvement, Mr. Dayal said, “Primarily, the signature style of this mail matches the previous mails sent by the module. This points to the IM’s involvement.” Email users know that the only signature used in emails is its ID. The signature pasted on email does not authenticate it.

It is not for the first time that in a case of terrorism police officers and media personnel have rushed to blame certain persons or organizations identified with “Muslim” names. Same stories were floated after blasts in Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer Dargah, Mecca Masjid, Mohammedi Masjid Parabhani, Qadaria Masjid Jalna, Jama Masjid Delhi and so on. However, it was found later that these crimes were committed by activists associated directly or indirectly with the ‘Sangh Parivar’. After each terrorist attack, only Muslim youths were arrested on flimsy grounds and tortured brutally. Media, mostly controlled by Sangh sympathisers, created an atmosphere against the minority community and police officers acted to earn recognition through this anti-Muslim media.

The intention of blast as claimed in the dubious mail also seems politically motivated to buttress the motive of the saffron parivar. Reportedly the mail says: “Indian Mujahideen attribute(s) this attack to the 6th of December that will haunt your nation of world’s ‘greatest democracy’ until Muslims are paid back justly and fairly for the loss of their beloved Babri Masjid, the precious lives of their near and dear ones, their pride, dignity and self-respect.”  

Yes, Indian Muslims have lots of grievances but they have never resorted to violent options. It is only the saffron brigade which has been using violence against minorities. Babri Masjid was demolished by Hindu extremists stimulated and instigated by the Saffron Privar in 1992. Muslims agitated ever since on every 6th December but only peacefully and democratically. During the last 18 years no terror attack was ever reported to protest the demolition. Why this year, and that too on 7th December?

Media, without a scant regard for evidence has propagated this as handiwork of “IM” which is said to have roots in Pakistan and gets inspiration and training from Pakistani terror groups. Considering the nature of the Varanasi blast, which had no shrapnel, no killing impact, no piles of dead bodies, no blood spilled and no human parts scattered all around but only smoke and noise, it is hard to believe it to be an attack sponsored by Pakistani terror outfits. There is no Pakistani terror imprint on this attack. Their attacks are always extremely murderous. They do not spare even their own devout brethrens offering prayers in mosques, attending funnerals, and pilgrims of holy mazars. How will such people spare Hindus offering aarti on the banks of the Ganges? It is unthinkable that demons trained by Pakistani terror outfits will trigger a blast in Varanasi which will make only noise and smoke.

Times of India (12 Dec) reported that “initial tests with the Israeli kit” have confirmed the use of a compound explosive, called ‘Semtex’ in the blast. It is a general-purpose plastic explosive used in commercial blasting, demolition and in certain military applications. The explosive is notoriously popular with global terrorists as it is extremely difficult to detect.” This strengthens the angle of involvement of ‘Israel’ in some of these blasts.

Recently BJP president Nitin Gadkari, with a big delegation of his party leaders, was on a six day visit to Israel where he “underscored an urgent need for India and Israel to enhance cooperation in combating terrorism”. Is Varanasi a test case for this co-operation, as the aim of both Israel and BJP is the same: malign Muslims for every act of terror? The present political scenario in the country and proximity of Sangh Privar with Israel strongly indicates the probability of saffron involvement, which is being completely overlooked. In the recent past, involvement of outfits identified with the Saffron Privar and adherents of Sangh ideology, had been in focus. After Varanasi blast, the unfounded storey of IM involvement has given some relief to the Parivar.

Recently on Dec 2, Bombay High Court has issued a notice to the Government on the issues raised in former IGP SM Mushrif’s book, Who killed Karkare? Mr. Mushrif has made a strong case to prove that ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s death was orchestrated by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) personnel and members of “right-wing terrorist outfit” Abhinav Bharat. The division bench of Justice BH Marlapalle and Justice UD Salvi found substance in his arguments, and said, “We feel these are relevant. The theory of deep-rooted conspiracy, has it been investigated into,” asked Marlapalle. The judges said they read the book and they would “go into areas of concern.” It is worth reminding that judge ML Tahaliyani had observed in his verdict sentencing Kasab that “bullets recovered from bodies of Karkare and Salaskar did not tally with the weapons of Kasab and Abu Ismail.” This observation of the HC has baffled the saffron Parivar.

Before this on Nov 20, a revered ideologue of the Parivar ‘Swami Asimanand’, wanted in several blast cases, was arrested from his hideout near Haridwar and taken to Hyderabad for interrogation in Mecca Masjid blast case. He was in hiding since his name cropped up in Malegaon blast case of 2008. He was living there with assumed name and fake identity. Praveen Tagadia reacted sharply on his arrest. During investigation of Malegaon case, Togadia’s name too had cropped up, but no follow up action was taken after Hemant Karkare’s killing. Before Swami’s arrest, the name of senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar had cropped up in Ajmer chargesheet (22 Oct) as one of the hatchers of the blasts conspiracy. In the meantime the leading party of the ruling alliance at the Centre has, albeit hesitantly, blown up the bugle to expose the relationship of terror and RSS. This all has baffled the Parivar which seems to have come on the backfoot. Varanasi blast is a device to divert the attention of the public and once again raise the bogey of Muslim terror.

Another Swami, head of Nuh Gurukul Ashram, Mitranand, was arrested on 2 Dec in connection with a huge blast in the Asharam on September 23, destroying a portion of the building. He got the bombs from his predecessor Swami Amranand. Mitranand confessed to the police that he had kept the detonator hidden for years in a water tank. This incidence found little mention in the “mainstream media”. Had this been the case of some madarsah, dargah, or mosque, reporting would have been entirely different with stories crafted with full stretch of imagination.

Therefore, the NIA should investigate Varanasi blast impartially and also examine the probability of saffron involvement.

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