A New Colour
For more than one and a half years after they occurred, the blasts on the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express, which claimed 68 lives, were believed to be the handiwork of Islamist terrorist groups. The attack happened on February 18, 2007, the day before Pakistan’s then foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, was arriving to resume peace talks. So sleuths suspected the hand of Islamist groups intent on derailing the Indo-Pak initiative.
Now, the NIA has confirmed that the terror attack was actually the work of Hindutva outfits. The agency’s latest chargesheet, filed before additional sessions judge Kanchan Mahi and accessed by Outlook, puts their involvement on record; it also rules out the involvement of jehadi groups. The perpetrators were seeking revenge for a spate of attacks “on Hindu temples and Hindus”.
It was in November 2008 that the railway police and an SIT of Haryana police, the agencies that first took up the case, got a whiff of the blasts being linked to Hindu terror groups. The name they turned up was Prasad Shrikant Purohit, a colonel in Military Intelligence, who was linked to the Hindutva group Abhinav Bharat. (He’s now in jail, as investigations of Hindutva terror plots widen.)
But definitive progress on that angle came since the NIA took up the case in July 2010. The chargesheet identifies the bomb-planters—Kamal Chauhan, Lokesh Sharma, Rajender Chaudhary, Amit Hakla and Sunil Joshi—as having had RSS links. In fact, Joshi, who was murdered in Dewas in December 2007, was an RSS pracharak. The chargesheet says the “blasts in Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif were carried out by the accused in pursuance of a criminal conspiracy”. The suitcases used in the Samjhauta blasts were bought on February 14, 2007, from Kothari market in Indore and packed with explosive chemicals, fuel oil and digital timers.
A steady build-up of the case began since December 2010, when the NIA claimed evidence of Swami Aseemanand, who was formerly with the RSS, being one of the masterminds. He confessed before a magistrate, but later retracted. In February this year, the NIA arrested Kamal Chauhan, a former RSS worker, in Indore. He is believed to be an associate of Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, two absconding accused in the same case on whom the agency has announced a Rs 10 lakh reward.
Chauhan apparently took part in a training session in the Bagli forest of Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. Joshi, Kalsangra, Sharma, Hakla and one Rajender Chaudhary attended the session. Call records confirm that they were all in touch. Arriving in Delhi by the Indore Intercity on fake names some time in November-December 2006, Chauhan and Chaudhary conducted recces of Jama Masjid and the Old Delhi railway station. Their assessment was that security at the mosque was tight, while it was lax at the railway station, so the Samjhauta Express was an easier target. The bomb-planters then took a Delhi train from Indore the day before the blasts. Arriving in the capital, they took a local train from Nizamuddin station to Old Delhi, stayed in dormitory, and reached the platform from which the targeted train was scheduled to depart at 11:05 pm. Job done, they went to Jaipur and took a bus to Indore.
Chauhan and Sharma are at the Central Jail in Ambala, awaiting trial. The rest of the accused are absconding, and Joshi, one of the key persons involved, is dead. Still, the agency hopes to be able to build a solid case. It’s awaiting comparative reports of the bombs used to see if links can be established to the blasts in Malegaon in Maharashtra and Modasa in Gujarat. That would complete the picture of the Hindutva terror story.
The NIA’s latest chargesheet on the Samjhauta Express blasts is a nice fairytale (An Explosive Trail, Aug 27). They were banking on Aseemanand, and then Kamal Chauhan. They better have some real evidence, or else the case will not stand in court.
Yes, nice try to distract people from the perils of global Islamist terror. You can make up a story, or plant one. Can’t wait to see if the nia can ever get a conviction.
Pramod, Phoenix, US
The term 'Hindutva or Islamic' terror is a misnomer to divide and more importantly deviate people from the real perpetrators of the crime who use these radical outfits for their agenda. Just going after the middle man won't be of any use unless the bigger fish is brought into picture. But that would never happen because that is the
So, the case stands as this: Hindutwa terror to India is what Taliban & its outfits have done to Pakistan. In both the countries there is ample room and hospitality for them from their patrons and sympathizers.
Let investigations be expeditiously concluded and trial started to lead the case to logical end under the law of the land. Can India wait till she has downgraded herself to the level of Pakistan, thanks to the Talibans and its outfits?
Occasionally OUTLOOK must take stock of 'have your say' posts in the magazine about any given story and see how the readers react; do they endorse the magazine's views, oppose it or ridicule it ? It is good for the magazine's health.Otherwise OUTLOOK will go the way of the TV news channels , who despite their glitz and glamour and racuous presentation find their TRPs dropping .Some have taken the rating agencies to court as if that will improove matters.If you don't want OUTLOOK to be an also ran rag, remedial steps are in order.
An explosive trail indeed.Some Hindutva terrorists are in jail, others are to be caught, so produce a solid case and get these convicted and sentenced. Till they are hanged they can be lodged with Ajnmal Kasab and Afzal Guru and all can carry forward the 'trust building' measures from inside the prison, between Pakistan and India. Meanwhile enlighten us about the fate of poor Aseemanand and his 'confession'..Otherwise clever legal eagles of the Sangh Parivar might weaken the whole case in court.I am sure the CBI lawyers are equal to the task. These have shown their prowess in the past in making unaccounted wealth and disproportionate assets cases vanish into thin air where it concerned allies or potential helpers of the UPA.
"If Hindutva outfits would be believed to be the miscreants, then why did they choose the train for their outrageous demeanour?"
They didn't want any sort of rapprochement with Pakistan. At least not by a UPA Government. Obvious.
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