Hindutva’s ruthless mission: Sabarmati to Samjhauta
Swami Aseemanand’s 42-page-confession is a reminder of the fact that had police acted judiciously and nipped the budding militants in time a trail of bomb explosions could be averted. Similarly, had the police all over the country dropped their bias and prejudices, thousands of innocents would have escaped torture, trauma and ruined careers. More damaging is the media’s role in hounding the innocents, compelling the security forces to act and show result on suggested lines, and thereby earn brownie points. As Ashish Khetan in Tehelka (15 Jan 2011) points out: …. an automatic and damaging perception amongst most Indians that there is a Muslim hand behind every terror blast…. this bias was shared by the police and intelligence agencies…. [they] would routinely round up Muslim boys…. a frenzied media would swallow the story….”
But for the dauntless vision and integrity of late Hemant Karkare and now the conscience bitten prayaschit [repentance] of Aseemanand, the ruthless rath of Bhagwa Brigade would have continued to crush many more for years. “It was not Muslim boys but a team of RSS pracharaks who exploded bombs…. And in keeping with their habitual practice, scores of Muslim boys were wrongly picked up by the Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra police in collusion with sections of the Intelligence Bureau, and tortured and jailed for these blasts,” says Khetan.
The story goes back to 2001 when three RSS pracharaks – Sunil Joshi, Sandeep Dange, Ramchandra Kalasangra (all belonging to Malwa region around Indore) decided to act. They began inducting like-minded people from neighbouring states. Several organisations readily responded to their call and a Hindutva “deadly platoon” got formed. At that juncture came the Akshardham blast in 2002 which triggered them into action. The dormant volcano began erupting. To this came the Sabridham Kumbh where these got a mentor in the form of Swami Aseemanand who gave them the slogan – “bomb for bomb.” The Varanasi bomb that exploded at Sankat Mochan in March 2006 fuelled the brigade to respond and act.
In a meeting at Bharat Bhai Riteshwar’s house in Valsad, Dange, Kalsangra, Lokesh and Ashok (Amit) discussed the plans. Swami suggested various Muslim targets. While Malegaon was chosen because of its 80% Muslim population, Hyderabad earned their ire for Nizam’s preference for Pakistan in 1947. Ajmer was suggested to distract Hindus from visiting Hindu shrines and Samjhauta Express merited their attention for the simple reason that it was mostly ferrying Pakistanis. With the selection of targets, responsibilities were divided. It was decided that Sunil Joshi and Bharat would go to Jharkhand to purchase SIM cards. “I handed over Rs 25,000 to Sunil Joshi.” At this step Indresh Kumar “advised” the Swami to mind his own business – i.e., the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.
The first experiment was a great success. Malegaon yielded a rich harvest of 31 casualties with 312 injured (8 Sept. 2006). Encouraged by this, came the Samjhauta Express blast causing 68 casualties (17 Feb. 2007). Had MP police assisted the Haryana Police in locating the people at Indore the trail would have ended there. Joshi took Rs 40,000 for Mecca Masjid blast. “A few months later Joshi telephoned me to keep a tab on newspapers and in a few days the news appeared (17 May 2007),” says Aseemanand. After 7-8 days Joshi came to Sabri Dham. And the next target was the Ajmer Shrine. for which Indresh Kumar, the patron of Rashtravadi Muslim Manch, supplied the conspirators two Muslim Meer Jafars. When Joshi informed the Swami of Muslim involvement; he smelled the rat. He expressed his fear to Joshi, “…. Indresh’s name would come up, and his life would be in danger from Indresh and Muslim men.” He suggested him to stay in Sabri Dham. But as Joshi had with him the Best Bakery accused Raj, Mehul etc, Swami did not allow all of them to stay there. Aseemanand’s fears were not baseless. Joshi was killed in December 2007, as Harshad Solanki claims, because of his arrogance. However, Aseemanand now, without mincing words, holds Indresh responsible because not only did he know too much but also because Joshi could have “confessed” and created problems for Indresh. Bharat Riteshwar recalls that the day after Joshi’s murder, Swami told him that it “was the handiwork of Indresh Kumar.” Undeterred by this, the parallel group, Abhinav Bharat, conducted their operation at Malegaon and Modasa (Sept, 2008/29). It was Pragya motorcycle meticulously parked in front of the locked office of SIMI (to divert the investigation to SIMI) that led the Maharashtra ATS to the arrest of Pragya Thakur and Lt. Col. S Purohit. Hemant Karkare reversed the stereotyped investigation procedure and paid with his life.
With Karkare’s elimination, the conspirators heaved a sigh of relief because the new chief K. P. Raghuvanshi and later on Rakesh Maria reverted back to their old track – either out of fear for their lives or because of “hidden” instructions from someone. It was, however, Rajasthan ATS which continued the probe on Karkare’s line. It began arresting, one by one, culprits from Indore region. Forced by Raj ATS’s alarming pace, reluctant Madhya Pradesh also re-opened Sunil Joshi’s file. Meanwhile, each new arrest led to further arrests culminating in Swami Aseemanand’s arrest in November 2010, at Haridwar. After Pragya Thakur’s arrest he had left Dangs, and during the intervening two years had changed locations 30 times. His chance association in Chanchalguda jail with a victim of Mecca Masjid blast, Kaleem, made him repent and on 18 December 2010 he made his long confession before Tis Hazari metropolitan magistrate, Deepak Dabas.
Unfazed by the confession, Indresh dismissed it as a cock and bull story. “I told the CBI that if you have been asked by your political masters to fix me, then go ahead and do it with your false and bogus stories,” he says Giving the matter a political twist, he and RSS claim “Government is fabricating a new story and is trying to malign the image of patriots, social workers and those who love their religion.”
Forgetting Indresh and Sangh’s outcry, let us try to see what other evidence suggests.
Let us take Purohit’s charge that Indreshji was an ISI agent. This is not for the first time that we are listening of ISI-RSS nexus. During 2007, it was very much in the news. Hence if ISI was financing RSS, it was “wisely” used by the organisation in financing these bomb blasts. Probably, hefty payments to Joshi were made from this bonanza. May be, this very money was used to establish the Rashtravadi Muslim Manch, the “Muslim” outfit floated by the RSS. If this is true, then the ISI money boomeranged on Pakistan by taking a toll of its 68 civilians. This brings us to another aspect missed by many. The clue - “the chemicals required for the blast (Samjhauta) would be arranged by Dange.” Which he did. But think of Sabarmati Express’s Coach-6. a mysterious white powder was found in that coach too which was highly inflammable. Even at that time it was held that the coaches were not set on fire by pouring petrol from outside but from something inside. Do the two train blasts not share a similar modus operandi? Pictures of Sabarmati and Samjhauta burnt coaches are very much identical.
They are crying hoarse of “politicizing” the issue. But this is what BJP regimes have been doing all these years. Pracharaks were given impunity and shelter in MP and Gujarat. After committing crimes in non-BJP states (Andhra/Maharashtra) they were shielded in BJP regimes. MP had become a safety zone for them. So when Joshi was killed there was no riot. Why? Because the Sangh must have asked its pracharaks to maintain a low profile. Even Ajmer blast (which provided all the dots linkage) would have remained a closed affair had the Vasundhara government continued. With Congress back in saddle, the Rajasthan ATS got moving. Hence, BJP had been, all the time, controlling investigations – which one to pursue and which one to dump in cold storage. The mysterious missing explosives (tonnes of them) during BJP regimes, need a fresh probe in the light of Aseemanand’s confession.
Till now they have been making a lot of hue-and-cry about Madrasas being the breeding nursery for Talibans. Yet Advani, as home minister, could not find a single madrasa training or hoarding arms.
Sunil Johi and many of his associates provide the proof what Shishu Mandirs had been breeding during the saffronization drive. It is time now to harvest the crop sown by Murli Manohar Joshi’s drive.
Sunil Joshi is not an isolated case. Take the case of his associate Kaloda aka Ramji who supplied him the explosives. Kaloda’s body was found near Baloda Takoon (a small non-descript village between Ratlam and Indore) railway track. It was believed that Joshi and Kaloda were killed by their own people. Even the names of Kaloda’s killers were known – Dharmendra Jatt, Lakhan and Ratan Lal. This probe is also in cold storage, of course, because of political compulsions. The so-called gobhaktas used to dump explosives in cowshed! (Hindustan Times, 10 January 2011). It is not without reason that five out of six Ajmer blast accused are from around Indore.
Pakistan has expressed desire to share probe findings. The “war-on-terror” in both the countries has gone out of track. If Pakistan has mismanaged it by funding I.S.I. and promoting LeT and Jesh or by shielding Lakhvi, India too has been found groping in dark. Instead of finding the real ones, it has been ‘attacking’ innocent ones.
Of course, still there are many missing links. Sunil Joshi was advised to constitute three separate groups – so that if one gets arrested the others remain safe and carry on the mission. With Dange and Kalsangra still absconding, the dots are yet to be connected. Mail Today (8 Jan. 2011) argued: “how the highly sophisticated bombs (two exploded; two unexploded) were made and planted it i.e., how 15% high explosive RDX and TNT and 85% Potassium Chlorate and Sulphur (was procured)…. the printed circuit boards used in the bomb were of good quality, well finished and seem to be prepared by professionals on a computerised machine.” The answer is simple. Dange is an engineer from a government college in Indore while Kalsangra is an electrician. And they were in touch with other friendly organisations like Jai Vande Mataram and Abhinav Bharat. No wonder, the explosives were procured through Purohit or the bomb training was imparted to them by retired army people. Not in vain did Joshi live in Mhow where there is a large military establishment.
There was a hush about a “militant” camp near Mhow around April 2008. The Malegaon and Modasa blasts were triggered in May 2008. Was there any link between the two? Joshi, of course had been killed by that time – but there were others. May be the missing “dots” were involved therein.