Bomb blasts have taken place near
the Delhi High Court, in Bombay, Bangalore etc. Within a few hours
of such bomb blasts many T V channels started showing news item
that Indian Mujahidin or Jaish-e-Mohammed or
Harkatul-jihad-e-islam have sent e-mails or SMS claiming
responsibility. The names of such alleged organizations will
always be Muslim names. Now an e-mail can be sent by any
mischievous person, but by showing this on TV channels and next
day in the newspapers the tendency is to brand all Muslims in the
country as terrorists and bomb throwers...Should the media,
wittingly or unwittingly, become part of this policy of divide and
(Justice (retired) Markandey Katju, Chairman of the Press Council
of India, October 10, 2011 at a get-together with mediapersons)
What is common between the murder of the leader of a private army
of landlords at the hands of his own gang members in faraway Bihar
over distribution of booty, the felicitation of a terrorist lodged
in jail as 'living martyr' (zinda Shaheed) in Punjab or the
anointment of a hatemonger as the poster boy of the main
opposition party ? Formally speaking there are no connections but
if one tries to dig further few subterranean linkages become
clear. Whether one agrees or not they exhibit the growing
legitimacy of authoritarian, fanatic, exclucivist politics in this
part of the subcontinent.
It is difficult to believe the manner in which the mass murderer
called Brahmeshwar Singh was glorified and the state turning mute
spectator to indiscriminate violence unleashed by his supporters
(mainly his caste antisocials) or the manner in which two senior
leaders of the saffron dispensation - ex Central Cabinet minister
C.P. Thakur and Giriraj Singh, a member of Nitish's cabinet - vied
with each other to delcare the murderer as another 'Gandhi'.
Not to be rest content the felicitation of the terrorist called
Rajoana who had been instrumental in killing of innocents was
accompanied by demands from the SGPC (Shiromani Gurudwara
Prabadhank Committee) to have a memorial erected inside the
precincts of the golden temple itself, in memory of those who were
'martyred' during the 1984 military action to flush out
Bhindranwale and his close comrades.
The Kafquasquean metamorphosis of the hatemonger as 'development
man' has been discussed for quite some time. With the recent
national executive meeting of his party he inched further closer
to his long cherished dream. Forget the fact that there have been
more than 45 reports prepared by national-international human
rights organisations over the bloody developments in the state
under his rule and amicus curaie (friend of court) ordering his
prosecution for various acts of omission and commission in the
2002 carnage. Forget the fact that thousands of people uprooted
during those days are still condemned to live a life of internally
displaced persons. Forget the fact that it is 'free for all' as
far corruption in the higher echleons of power is concerned.
Nobody can miss the 'coincidence' that in all the three cases
mentioned above saffrons happen to be a common factor. And there
is nothing surprising about it. Close watchers of their politics
very well know that fascination for violence is an integral part
of their weltanschauung.
This fascination for violence in the saffron parivar seems to have
reached its pinnacle with the phenomenon of Hindutva terror. It
has been more than a decade that this phenomenon has raised its
head which saw many avoidable deaths. Here we witness activists,
workers, Pracharaks of the 'cause' collecting arms, storing
explosives, engaging themselves in arms training and making
elaborate plans to put it at crowded places to have maximum
impact. One finds them putting the explosives in larger religious
congregations, in crowded trains or in busy areas to teach the
'others' a lesson.We also witness the cowardice exhibited during
many such operations by them where the conspirators camouflaged
themselves as the 'other' to further stigmatise the other
community. As things stand today n number of workers of different
Hindutva formations have been apprehended, cases have been
registered, investigations are on.
It is also becoming clear that the “saffron terror’ is a ‘much
bigger phenomenon than previously envisaged with the investigating
agencies suspecting involvement of Hindutva activists in as many
as 16 explosions across the country.’ (Deccan Herald, 23 Sep 2011,
Anirban Bhaumik, New Delhi, Sep 20, DHNS)
A special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is understood
to have recently told the state police chiefs that the Hindutva
activists have either been suspected or are under investigation in
16 incidents of bomb blasts in the country. The right wing
activists’ role in four incidents of bomb blasts so far has come
into public domain, but the top intelligence official’s remark
during the annual conference of the Director Generals and
Inspector Generals of Police from the states last week revealed
that the saffron terror had assumed a much larger proportion.
..Making a presentation during the state top cops’ conference in
New Delhi, the senior IB official is understood to have referred
to the right wing Hindu organisations, who espoused emotive
issues, leading to radicalisation of a section of majority
community and thus contributing to spread of what is being called
But somehow one is discovering that the momentum generated after
2008 investigations into the Malegaon bomb blast - taken up by the
legendary police officer Hemant Karkare - has lost midway. The
year 2010 witnessed some attempts to give it a new push, but for
various known-unknown reasons the powers that be do not seem eager
to unearth the whole conspiracy, go after the real masterminds,
nab the real planners and target their organisations. And with
every passing day, the task appears more and more difficult.
On the other hand contrary to general impression that Hindutva
terrorists are lying low, one discovers that they are very much
active, in fact they have learned from their earlier mistakes
which helped the police and security agencies to lay hands on them
easily and have reworked their strategies. A random look at events
in last few months makes things very clear.
A section of the media reported about how a 'terror plot was
foiled and explosives were seized from a car near Brahmavar' near
Udupi, Karnatak. As usually happens in all such cases the followup
of this incident was not reported, despite the fact that the
person carrying the explosives happened to be activist of some
Hindutva organisation (Terror plot foiled, explosives seized from
car near Brahmavar, by CD Network Thursday, 10 May 2012 10:16,
Udupi, May 10: A possible terror attack was foiled on Wednesday
with the recovery of huge quantity of explosives and detonators
from a car near Brahmavar in Udupi district.The Brahmavar police
seized explosives from Ganesh Prasad, a resident of Shiriyar
village, at Jambur in Yedthady village coming under the limits of
Brahmavar police station.It is learnt that Ganesh Prasad was an
activist of a Hindutva outfit.
Superintendent of Police M B Boralingaiah informed media that the
police had seized 16 gelatine sticks, six detonators, and one kg
of gunpowder.The suspected terrorist was carrying the detonators
and gunpowder in a car without permit, when he was caught by the
police at Yedthady.
The value of the seized items including the car was estimated at
Rs 75,000. A case had been registered.
Whether we will ever get answers to the query that who had
directed Ganesh Prasad to carry 'huge quantity of explosives' and
what was the game plan ? Who else was involved in the conspiracy ?
Imagine whether the response would have been similar if the
carrier of explosives would have been belonging to one of those
If Ganesh Prasad was carrying explosives to create disturbances in
and around Udupi, his 'friends' in Hyderabad were found to be
engaged in temple desecration to trigger a riot. It has been
widely reported how Hyderabad witnessed communal tension in first
half of April 2012. The communally sensitive Madannapet was rocked
by communal clashes on April 08 following a temple desecration.
Over a dozen people were injured in the violence spread to
Saeedabad and surrounding areas forcing police to impose
indefinite curfew.Police had clear evidence then itself that hindu
extremists were behind this move who had desecrated the temple
themselves (Saffron extremists desecrated temple to trigger riots:
Cops, Times of India, 14 th April 2012).
Within few days the
Special Investigation Team of Central Crime Station arrested four hindu youths who were allegedly involved in temple desecration at
Kurmaguda in Madannapet police station limits.
The arrested youths were identified as GHMC sanitation superviser
Nagaraj of Maddannapet, flower decorator Kiran Kumar, hotel waiter
Ramesh alias Chinna and car driver Dayand Singh of Kurmaguda.The
key accused who moneylender Srinivas alias Salman Srinu and liquor
trader Niranjan could not be nabbed immediately. Police said Srinu
and Niranjan hatched a conspiracy at a restaurant on April 7 when
they asked Nagaraj, Kiran Kumar, Ramesh and Dayanand Singh to
throw pieces of cow legs and sprinkle green-colour water on the
wall of Sri Abhayanjaneya Swamy temple which divides two clusters
of homes where two groups of people are residing.
According to an official involved in investigation all the four
arrested were mere pawns and real challenge before the police is
to reach the real conspirators who had planned and executed the
Merely two months before this 'engineered riot' police busted a
hindutva terror group in Punjab. It may be told here that Haryana
witnessed five terror blasts in different parts of the state in
2009 which included a mosque, madrasa and a slaughterhouse. The
blasts witnessed death of one person. According to details
provided by the police the accused had planted two bombs in a
slaughterhouse in Satakpuri village of Mewat district in 2009.
They had also planted bombs in mosques in Malav village (Mewat)
and Jind, besides conducting a blast in Safido. Interrogation
revealed that Rajesh Kumar, one of the gang members earlier
worked in a stone crushing company and used to procure explosives
for the blasts.
The Patiala Police on 16th February arrested five persons in
connection with the series of bomb blasts in various districts of
Haryana in 2009. The accused included one Sagar (alias Azad),
chief of the Azad Organization under which these people were
working. The Patiala SSP DP Singh told newsmen on 16th Feb. that
four others have been identified as Sham Niwas, Gurnam Singh,
Parveen Sharma and Rajesh Kumar, all residents of Haryana, says a
news report published in The Tribune daily on 17th February. They
allegedly carried out the blasts including one at a mosque to
create a communal rift.
..The police said Sagar was the kingpin who had also taken credit
for the blasts by approaching various media houses a day after the
( By TCN News, 20 February 2012 - 6:45pm)
It may be added here that a year and half back (December 2010) the
Mewat police had arrested one Swami Anand Mitranand, a teacher in
the Gurukul, in connection with the Gurukul Ashram blast in Nuh,
the district headquarters of Mewat. The most notable thing was the
blast had taken place on 23rd September, about a week before the
much-awaited Lucknow special court verdict on Babri Masjid title
Sindagi, a small town in Bijapur district of Karnataka witnessed
terror act of a different kind on the eve of new year. No sooner
than this town of around 30 plus thousand people with a mixed
population of Hindus as well as Muslims wokeup to their routine
activities came the news that a Pakistani flag was fluttering at
the tehsil office. And by the time shops opened up members of
different Hindutva organisations - Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Sri Ram
Sene, Bajrang Dal - had gathered near the tehesil office, raising
provocative slogans, and they even tried to damage public
property. The very next day bandh call given by pro-Hindu
organizations at Sindagi town in the district on Monday received
The investigating team formed by Mr Rajappa, Superintendent of
Police, led by DSP S P Muthuraj and assisted by Police Inspector
Siddheshwar, Chidambaram and Babagouda Patil also had its task cut
out. And within three days the real culprits behind the incident
were produced before the media. When the police held a press
conference to present the real terrorists, people were in for a
big shock. They were those very youngsters who were leading the
protests the other day. The hooded photographs of these jeans
wearing youth - namely Rakesh Siddaramiah Mutt (19), Anil Kumar
(18), Parashuram Ashok (20), Rohit Eshwar (18), Sunil Madiwalappa
(18) and Mallangouda Vijaykumar (18) all students of colleges in
Sindagi and Bijapur - appeared in one of the newspapers the next
The jury is still out about the organisation which designed this
operation. Officially, the police maintained that it was the
handiwork of Sri Ram Sene led by Praveen Muthalik, whereas
district unit of the Sene denied their group's involvement. They
even held a press conference to say that the accused belonged to
RSS and even released several pictures to prove their point. They
even alleged that the police was under tremendous pressure not to
drag the name of the RSS into the issue.
Well placed police sources, told the Hindu that the entire
incident was carried out at the behest of an elected
representative of the BJP, whose political agenda was to foment
communal distrubances in the district. The sources added that the
elected representative had instructed his supporters to destroy
all evidence of his involvement, including photographs of the
protesters and the banners of the organisation.
('"Pakistani flag hoisting was a Hindutva plot"The Hindu, 11 th
It need be noted that this was not the first incident of its kind
involving Hindutva fanatics in this region of Karnataka. There
have been similar incidents earlier also. e.g. the same region
witnessed an incident of defacing a statue of Vivekananda and a
desecration of a temple sometime back which was followed by hate
campaign spread by Hindutva organisations against Muslims, without
any evidence. It was in 2008 also a Pak flag was hoisted in the
Tipu Sultan circle.
The whole incident and its exposure within such a short time gives
one an opportunity to look at the way media treats such cases and
how it is complicit in 'othering' and 'stigmatising' of people and
communities.When the incident happened the media, especially the
Kannada newspapers and channels, tried to project Sindagi
flag-hoisting as the handiwork of the Muslim fundamentalists and
attempted to whip up communal frenzy. And when the police bust the
conspiracy hatched by the Hindutva terrorists except "VARTHABHARATHI"
most of the newspapers carried the news on its inner page.
The 'Sindagi fiasco' where Hindutva terrorists made a self goal
demonstrates once again that they and their ideologues suffer from
poverty of ideas. There have been umpteenth occasions where they
were caught engaged in terrorist act trying to 'impersonate' the 'other'.It
would not be an exaggeration to say that they have been adopting
this tactics since pre-partition days. The book 'Param Vaibhav Ke
Path Par' written by a senior RSS functionary (Sadanand Damodar
Sapre, Suruchi Prakashan, Delhi, 1997) provides details of this
technique where 'Swayamsevaks even adopted Muslim religion to gain
the confidence of the Muslim League during partition days.'
While there has been no let up in the Hindutva terror operations,
one discovers that the accused in the earlier terror cases have
started getting bail one after the other. It appears that the NIA,
(National Investigating Agency) the premier investigating agency,
especially constituted to look into terror cases has suddenly
'lost interest in taking saffron terror cases' to their natural
A special NIA Court on Tuesday granted bail to Lokesh Sharma,
arrested in 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, as the investigating
agency failed to file chargesheet within the stipulated 90-day
period.Designated Judge of the Special NIA Court Y D Shinde
directed the accused to execute a PR bond of Rs 25,000, while
granting him bail.
NIA had taken Lokesh's custody early this year from Panchkula
court, where he was in judicial custody in connection with
Samjhauta train bombing case. He was later produced him before a
special MCOCA court in Mumbai on February 27 and remanded in NIA
custody.The agency had sought Lokesh's custody to question him in
connection with the September 29, 2008 Malegaon blast in which six
people were killed. Sharma, a close associate of Sunil Joshi (the
suspected 'mastermind' behind the blasts who was later murdered),
had allegedly also planted a bomb on Samjhauta Express.
(2008 Malegaon blast: Court grants bail to Lokesh Sharma, Agencies
: Mumbai, Tue Jun 05 2012, 16:47 hrs (Indian Express)
The cavalier manner in which investigations in these high profile
cases is being conducted can be gauged from the fact that two
accused in the Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts were granted bail
by the courts in a span of mere five days. Reason being failure of
the investigating agencey to file a chargesheet in the stipulated
period of 90 days, as mandated by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Merely five days before Lokesh Sharma was granted bail, a
Hyderabad court granted bail to Bharath Ratheshwar, an accused in
the Mecca Masjid blasts, (1 June) on the grounds that the NIA had
failed to file a chargesheet even after being granted 180 days to
do so. It is known that CrPC makes it amply clear that a
chargesheet must be filed in 90 days after the arrest, failing
which the accused is entitled for bail unless the investigating
agency is able to give sufficient reason for the delay.
Anyone closely following the trajectory of these cases would vouch
that they are not stray cases. Earlier, the court had granted bail
to three other accused in the Malegaon blasts -- Sham Sahu, Shiv
Narayan Kalsanghra and Ajay Rahirkar. The release of two accused
just a few days apart, definitely indicates that in both these
cases the NIA has definitely not managed to put up a strong-enough
case for the courts to take cognisance. Few legal experts and
police officials who are in the know of things aver that if
drastic steps are not taken to overcome resistance by local police
in offering assistance to unearth the cases, or attempts are not
made to reach the kernel of truth by minimising political
interference at various levels, it is possible that in these tough
times many more accused could get bail because the chargesheet was
not filed in the mandatory period.
Perhaps how the NIA is (mis)managing the investigations is best
exemplified by the case of Indresh Kumar.
Indresh Kumar, one of the top leaders of the RSS, looks confident
Not many would recognise today that there was a time - only few
months back - when there were reports that he would be arrested
allegedly for his involvement in one of the most criminal and
murderous phase in the trajectory of majoritarian politics in the
country, popularly known as the phenomenon of Hindutva terror.
Many of those activists of RSS or other Hindutva organisations who
are behind bars for their role in different terror acts had shared
with the investigating agencies their interaction with him during
different phases of the work or the instructions allegedly given
by him or the mobilisation of funds he supposedly did for these
Reports appearing in newspapers and other media channels then can
give one an idea what was in store for him. "Masjid blast heat on
RSS top man' (Mail Today, 23 Dec 2010).,'CBI grills Indresh and
calls his bluff' (Mail Today, 24 th Dec 2010), Indresh Kumar ke
Puchhtachh se Sangh ki Dhadkan Tej (RSS dreads questioning of
Indresh Kumar. Bhaskar, 24 Dec 2010) etc.
In one of its reports last year 'Siasat' had described him a
'kingpin of terror strikes' (Thursday, 10 February
2011(www.siasat.net). It described how:
The heat is on senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, who was already
blamed by Aseemanand as one of the kingpins of terror strikes in
Malegaon, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta express.More
trouble is brewing for him as Rajasthan ATS has arrested another
one of Indresh's aides - Bharat Bhai Rateshwar. He was the one who
was given the task of mobilising funds for terror strikes.His
confession statement - accessed by CNN-IBN - corroborates a lot of
what Aseemanand had told investigators himself...
All that is passe !
His interview to a national daily last year demonstrated (Jagran,
31 October 2011) his new found confidence. Answering the query
about his name being linked to different terror cases he stated
that it is the result of 'the investigating agencies playing into
the hands of the government and an attempt to deliberately link
Hindu society to terrorist activities'. Lambasting Digvijay Singh,
the general secretary of Congress, he said that 'he visits houses
of terrorists in Azamgarh and Delhi and one needs to investigate
his relations with terrorists' and also the manner in which home
minister removed 'names of Pakistanis from the list of terrorists
which clearly shows that he has good relations with ISI.'
It was a symptomatic of this changed ambience vis-a-vis the
investigations that Indresh Kumars' meeting with dignitaries or
leaders of political parties got enough media attention last year.
Reports came in when in May Dalai Lama presented a Khata, a
ceremonial scarf to Indresh Kumar at his residence in McLeod Ganj.
It was reported that these two leaders discussed the 'current
situation of Tibet', the outgoing Prime Minister of Tibetan
government in exile Samdhong Rinpoche was also present during this
meeting. After his audience with Dalai Lama, Indresh Kumar also
met the Prime Minister elect of the exile government Lobsand
When the King of Bhutan arrived in India alongwith his newly wed
wife (25 th October 2011) Indresh Kumar met him on behalf of the
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari. BJP Convenor of Overseas Affairs Vijay
Jolly accompanied him on this visit. A gift -briefcase made of
bamboo was presented to the King on behalf of the BJP
chief.According to newspaper reports Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck
was presented with a red and blue 'chunari' from the Jhandewalan
Mandir by Kumar.
With hindsight one can say that the retraction of confession by
RSS Pracharak-terrorist Swami Aseemanand 'saying it was "coerced'
(March 31, 2011), before a court in Ajmer could have played a role
in Indresh Kumar's fresh assertiveness.
Today neither the investigating agencies seem keen to interrogate
him nor the ruling Party at the centre appears keen to take the
investigations to their logical conclusion despite the political
resolution adopted by the Congress Party at Burari (2010) to
launch a 'full probe into the RSS's alleged terror links.'
What factors have contributed to this sudden turn around as far as
the investigations were concerned which were banner headlines
during 2010 ? One can think of broadly three factors which have
made it possible:
- Legitimacy crisis of the ruling dispensation led by the
- multiple strategies employed by the RSS and other likeminded
organisations to ward off the danger of getting bracketed as a
'terrorist group' ,
- doublespeak of the UPA on the question of 'saffron terror'
# No doubt the exposure of corruption cases - may it be the 2G
scam, corruption in the organisation of commonwealth games, Adarsh
Society etc - and the consequent arrest of senior functionaries of
the ruling dispensation and the reaction of the common masses
towards the unfolding situation has played a role in defocussing
from the ongoing investigations in Hindutva terror cases. The
sense of drift at the centre faced by the UPA II regime, the
amatuerish way in which the Anna movement was dealt with and the
different pulls and pushes in the coalition government itself,
negativised the momentum built during 2010 to go to the roots of
# An important component of the multiple strategies adopted by the
Hindutva organisations has been to single out those people who are
keen to target RSS or its allied organisations for the 'terror
turn' as part of their understanding of things or as part of their
responsibility to manage stateaffairs. While RSS's attack on
Digvijay Singh, for his consistent stand on this issue is well
known, the 'singling out' strategy could be better understood if
one looks at RSS/BJP's love/hate relationship with P Chidambaram,
home minister of India.
Any close watcher of the unfolding dynamic would tell that PC
remained a 'darling' of the BJP/RSS for more than 18 months after
he assumed the responsibilities of the post (end of 2008). One
could see the 'hard line' he proposed against 'Naxal menace'
easily gelled with BJP/RSS approach. Ranging from its open
appreciation of PC (refer to reports of RSS meeting in Rajgir,
Bihar October 2009 ; Narendra Modi's speech in February 2010 in an
official seminar on internal security) or resolution passed by BJP
after the attack by Maoists in Dantewada which saw deaths of 76
CRPF personnel, nowhere Chidambaram was made the target.
The moment the investigating agencies became proactive on the
Hindutva terror issue, RSS/BJP started distancing itself from him.
Remember P Chidambaram's statement (12 th May 2010 Youtube)
wherein he said "[H]indu terrorism organization is the biggest
threats for the country" and also added "its difficult to
recognize internal terrorism." or his speech in a conference of
police chiefs (August 25, 2010) where he focussed on what he
called the 'new phenomenon of saffron terrorism.'
Sample this statement given by Chidambaram while interacting with
PTI journalists (BJP attacking UPA govt as Hindu terror being
probed: Chidambaram, PTI Jul 25, 2011, 06.11pm IST)
NEW DELHI: Home minister P Chidambaram on Monday said there are
nine documented cases involving right-wing terror groups making
bombs and killing people and BJP is targeting selective ministers
because the UPA government has quickened investigations into them.
He said the objective of these fundamentalist groups was to
clearly create terror and the government has to deal with that.
Interacting with PTI journalists, Chidambaram said BJP's attack
could also be due to the fact that the government has persuaded
the court to hear two Ayodhya cases on a more or less day-to-day
basis.He was replying to a question why he was being targeted by
the BJP linking him to the 2G scam.
The targetting of P Chidambaram went to such an extent that BJP
decided to boycott him in Parliament supposedly for his
involvement in 2 G scam. Commenting on this, in an editorial
comment 'DNA' (24 th Nov 2011) wrote:
Targetting Chidambaram helps the BJP to kill many birds with one
stone. It will help keep the searchlight on the 2G scam—and
corruption as an issue — which has damaged the UPA more than
anything else in the last year. It is expected to go down well
with the RSS, whose functionaries have held Chidambaram
responsible for the action against Hindu terror organisations. The
suggestion for cornering Chidambaram, some in the BJP say, came
from the party unit and the RSS, which was not happy with the home
minister for the way he has moved against saffron groups.
# The Congress party's dilly dallying on the question of fighting
communalism is a known thing. In recent decades, "[t]he party has
oscillated between a form of 'defensive secularism' at times
bordering on soft Hindutva, and an 'instant secularism' crafted
more as a reaction to the BJP's taunts than as a result of its own
convictions." (Editorial 'Dealing With Communalisms' ,The
Hindu,Dec 24, 2010)
The doublespeak of the UPA on 'Saffron Terror' in fact follows
There are number of examples which show how it oscillates between
anti-communalism in words and soft Hindutva in practice.
On the one hand while it is being told that the investigating
agencies owing allegiance to the home ministry are busy in making
a strong case against Indresh Kumar, on the other hand the same
Manmohan Singh led government had no qualms in rewarding his
supporters for 'harmony'. (Nai Dunia, 14 Sept 2011, Bhagwa
Atankwad Par UPA Sarkar ki Kathani-Karni The gap between precepts
and practice on the question of saffron terror) It was the month
of August when in a programme organised in Delhi Vice President Dr
Hamid Ansari, PM Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram
felicitated Dr Mohammad Haneef, Ms Saroj Khan of Centre for Human
Rights and Social Welfare and Acharya Lokesh Muni.
All these three
persons who were felicitated with communal harmony awards gave
detailed interview to the monthly magazine of 'Himalay Parivar'.
It may be told here that Indresh Kumar happens to be a member of
the advisory board of the magazine and also a key figure in the
Himalya Parivar. While Mohammad Haneef said that he took
inspiration from Indresh Kumar, Ms Saroj Khan appreciated the help
rendered by Rashtriya Muslim Manch in her work of communal
harmony. Not very many people know that Indresh Kumar is closely
associated with the Manch, in fact, according to informal sources,
he was the brain behind launching the Manch.
Or, look at its flip-flop on the question of banning 'Sanatan
Sanstha' whose activists have been found to be involved in
terrorist activities and some of them have faced convictions also
for their role in blasts at theatres and cinema halls in Thane and
Panvel in 2008. The issue has been hanging from more than three
years with this or that department of the central government
seeking additional information. With the conviction in the Thane
Panvel blasts, the Maharashtra government has again approached the
central government to ban the organisation but no decision has yet
been taken (Ban Sanatan Sanstha : Maharashtra to Centre, Indian
Express, 13 Sep 2011). Here is the latest update on the situation.
Centre urged to ban Sanatan Sanstha: State to high court
(Jun 16, 2012, DNA India)
The state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has requested the Centre to
ban Sanatan Sanstha, the right-wing outfit whose members are
accused in the 2006 and 2008 Malegaon blasts. In an affidavit
filed before the Bombay high court, the ATS stated that the
authority to declare an organisation unlawful is with the central
government under section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention)
Act (UAPA). The affidavit filed by police inspector Rajaram
Mandage states that it would be up to the Centre to independently
investigate and assess whether the outfits can be declared as
The affidavit has annexed a copy of the proposal marked as
"secret" sent by the additional chief secretary of the home
department to the director of Ministry of Home Affairs in April
2011 informing that three bomb blast cases have been registered
against the Sanstha activists. A letter attached to the affidavit
says that the activists of the outfit were motivated from the
writings in Sanatan Prabhat publication of the Sanatan Sanstha.
The government has concluded that the organisation (Sanatan
Sanstha) is liable to be banned with its affiliated sister
concerns Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Dharna Shakti Sena, the
letter says. It has requested the Centre to consider the
recommendation and declare the outfits as unlawful and include its
name in the UAPA as a terrorist organisation. ..
Emboldened by government's dilly dallying the Hindu Janjagruti
Samiti hosted a five day conference of hindu organisations in mid
June 2012 which was attended by 175 delegates belonging to 54
organisastions. One of the main resolutions which was passed
pertained to making India a Hindu Rashtra. It was also resolved
that all the Hindu organisations should join hands to convert
India and Nepal as 'Akhand Bharat'.
But is it the case only with 'Sanatan Sanstha' ?
Saeed Hamid, Bombay bureau chief of Rojnama Rashtriya Sahara, Urdu
writes (Kaumi Farman, December 2011, Page 23)
No Hindutva organisations has been banned since last ten years
under UAPA...The list of such organisations which have been banned
five times since last ten years comprises predominantly of Muslim
organisations. Not only SIMI, it includes Deendar Anjuman,
Dukhtarane Millat, Indian Mujahideen, Al Badar, Al Mujahideen, Al
Burk, Al Fateh Force, Al Jihad Force, Al Umar Mujahideen, Awami
Action Committee, Harkat ul Ansar, Harkat ul Jihad Islami,
Harkatul Mujahideen, Hizbul Mujahideen, Ikhawanul Musalmeen, Jaish-e-Mohammad,
Lashkar Muhammadi, Jamaitul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Pasban
Islami, Tehreekul Mujahideen etc.
How is it that since last ten years no Hindutva organisation has
been declared terrorist .. despite the fact that dozens of
Hindutva terrorists have been arrested for their role in terror
acts in Muslim dominated areas, mosques, kabristan etc.
While one can understand that the ten year period which Mr Hamid
mentions comprises of two plus year rule of BJP at the centre but
his observation is worth consideration. Forget banning the
organisation one finds a differential treatment when the police
deals with 'Jihadi terrorists' or 'Hindutva terrorists".
One can just compare the 'kid glove treatment' meted out to
accused in the Hindutva terror cases or the 'NIA's dragging its
feet in such investigations' and the ongoing communal profiling of
Muslim youth /elders in terror related cases. Three cases recently
made headlines which involved death of a poor construction worker
Qateel Siddiqui, abduction of an Indian origin engineer from Saudi
Arabia and continued detention of a senior journalist Syed Kazmi..
Qateel, the alleged IM operative was arrested last November in
Delhi and was supposedly killed by fellow inmates in Yerwada Jail,
Pune, the day his remand was to end.
Fasih Mahmood, an engineer
was picked up from Saudi Arabia by India's police accompanied by
Saudi Arabian police and red corner notice getting issued only
after his wife moved a habeas corpus petition in Supreme Court
(now suddenly we are discovering that he is in ‘Saudi’ custody and
would be deported soon) and senior journalist Syed Qazmi, widely
respected for his vast experience and bold views, who still
languishes in jail and the special cell asking for 90 more days to
file a chargsheet against him despite its 'claim of a water-tight
case against' him.
One cannot but agree with the memorandum presented by different
citizens groups to the home minister which castigated 'agencies
being handed over a license to pick and detain anyone at will.'
and demanded an end to 'reign of terror' unleashed by the
..Disappearances and illegal detentions have become rampant in the
name of fighting terrorism. It is as though a new wave of counter
terrorism has been launched to terrorize the youth belonging to a
community. In this Kafkaesque world over which you preside, young
men are picked up, some times snatched by one agency from another
and presented to the world as dreaded terrorists. You may remember
the case of Naquee Ahmed who was aiding the Special Cell in
tracing two suspects in Mumbai when the Mumbai ATS abducted and
kept him in illegal custody before announcing that a sensational
arrest had been made. The Special Cell of course abandoned him.
Competition between the agencies is costing innocents their life
and liberty and when these squabbles spill into the media, your
Ministry merely considers them bad PR rather than genuine concerns
of a democracy.
(Outlook, Web, 14 June 2012)
Or, consider the question of issue of compensation which has been
given to few of those innocent Muslim youths who were arrested and
tortured in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case. Out of 84 suspects
rounded up by police after the blast, the government identified 70
for compensation and paid them Rs 70 lakh in the first week of
January 2012. More than 15 of them were denied compensation in
last minute changes to the list claiming that they have cases
pending against them in other courts.
It is being rightly said that it is the first of its kind in the
country wherein innocents were awarded compensation. The
government is patting itself on the back for implementing the
recommendations of State and Central Minorities Commissions as a
precedent has been set for other states.
But can we forget that the report by the A.P. Minorities
Commission which became a basis for granting this compensation had
come out in Dec 2008 only. The state government led by Congress
Party , preferred to sit over the report and this time also it was
given as 'part of a deal with MIM for not supporting the
no-confidence motion moved by the TDP against the government'
(Indian Express, Dec 8, 2011, Mecca Masjid : Finally, relief for
In fact the state government came under '[s]harp
criticism from floor leader of the MIM party in the assembly for
delaying the release of compensation for three years.' (do)
And secondly, what about prosecuting the guilty police officers
who tortured and subjected the innocents to third degree methods
to extract confession from them. No justice loving person can deny
the demand of many of the wrongly accused boys who want the
government to suspend the guilty cops and legally proceed against
them. There is need to set a precedent in this direction also.
In fact, even after all these boys have been acquitted by the
court and found innocent, the cloud of suspicion is still hanging
over them,. the police continues to harass them. Everytime there
is a festival or trouble in the city, police still come looking
for them. The police which falsely implicated them has no qualms
in putting tabs on them.
Question need to be raised if police personnel involved in false
encounters can be sent to jail what stops the government to start
criminal proceedings against such police personnel who have made
life hell for all such innocent people. And it is not only a
question of wrongly accused in the Mecca Masjid case, one comes
across n number of cases where victims had to suffer for no fault
of theirs because the policemen found them a 'soft target' and
It would be opportune here to present extracts of a press release
issued by 'Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association' (JTSA) on 13th
September 2011, after the release of innocent Muslim youth from
the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast case. It was titled 'Lessons from
Malegaon : Punish those guilty of misleading probes: Compensate
the victims NOW!'
The NIA has finally put the official seal on what many activists,
the families of the accused and the people of Malegaon had been
saying for long: that the arrest of nine Muslim men for the 2006
Malegaon blast was a result of a communal witch-hunt, which passes
for investigations into terror charges.
Malegaon sadly is hardly an exception but more a norm. Remember
Mecca Masjid bombings, where scores of young men were tortured and
incarcerated. Or the CBI enquiry report in Delhi, which
established that Special Cell had kidnapped and framed two
Kahsmiris, both IB informers, as operatives of a terrorist group,
Al Badar. Or more recently, the acquittal of five Kashmiris by a
trial court in Delhi, where the court demonstrated that the
encounter in which these men were allegedly involved, was a
product of the Delhi police’s creative minds. It did not occur at
all! From Maharahstra to Delhi, from states ruled by BJP to those
presided over the Congress regimes, the story is the same.
First, let us be clear that these are not minor or technical
problems, where police and investigative agencies have followed
wrong leads or conducted erroneous investigations in good faith.
These were investigations which were deliberately diverted on a
wrong track because it was convenient to produce someone as SIMI
activist; or where false confessions were manufactured through
torture knowingly—as in Hyderabad; or innocents were rounded up
deliberately with knowledge of their innocence simply because no
one asked questions about police claims. These are not matters
that can be ignored as well-intentioned but inefficient
investigations—they were cynical and communal targeting of
innocents in the name of national security.
Second, this acknowledgment has not led to either compensation for
victims or prosecution of erring police officers. The Andhra
Pradesh government shamelessly challenges the claims for damages
filed by the young men who were brutally tortured by the AP
police. Judge Virendra Bhatt’s verdict earlier this year seeking
the filing of FIR against those officers of the Delhi
police—included the decorated hero of Special Cell, Ravinder Tyagi—who
faked an encounter in 2005, and a departmental enquiry is being
contested by the Delhi police department...
It is quite coincidental that the ascendance of violent Hindutva
right in the Indian subcontinent has occurred in the backdrop of
similar attempts by the majority communities in different parts of
the world. Our immediate neighbour Pakistan is witnessing an
implosion of sorts with activities of various such groups.
Of late, western countries are also witnessing this phenomenon
where we find small or big groups of similar fanatics engaging
themselves in violence against the immigrants, Muslims etc. While
emergence of people like Brevik in Norway, who killed scores of
innocents last year has received the attention it deserves, the
emergence of similar fanatic groups in countries like US, Germany
and other countries of the western world has been underreported.
The beginning of Novemberr the plot to use guns, bombs, and the
toxin ricin to kill federal and state officials and spread terror
was exposed by the US police (Nov 3, 2011, Indian Express, Four US
men arrested in plot to kill officials) The men, all aged 65 and
over were recorded telling an FBI informant that they wanted to
kill Federal judges, IRS employees and agents of Alcohol, Tobacco
firms. One of the arrested Frederick Thomas, 73 said "There is no
way for us, as militiamen to save this country, to save Georgia,
without doing something that is highly illegal : murder".
Commenting on this group the US attorney said "While many are
focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists,
this case demonstrates that we must remain vigilant in protecting
our country from citizens within our own borders".
Within merely two weeks of this exposure the emergence of Neo-Nazi
terrorists in Germany also caught headlines where they were found
to be responsible for a crime wave reaching back more than a
decade that includes ten murders including immigrant shopkeepers
and a poor police officer. Much on the lines of their Indian
Hindutva counterparts they got exposed because of a self goal. The
group came to light when the bodies of two of them were discovered
in a van in Thuringia state ; they had set the van alight and shot
themselves as police approached. A few hours later their female
accomplice burned down their falt in the city of Zwickau and
turned herself in.
Here also the 'official failure to track down the neo-Nazi gang'
was considered the most serious problem. In its introspection, it
was discovered that German Security Agencies and police have
always kept German Muslims and other ethnic minorities under the
sustaind surveillance but seemed to have paid far less attention
of white terrorism. After blistering criticism of gross errors in
the investigations in the ten murders Germany's interior minister
declared that the national database should compile data about
violent right wing extremists and politically motivated violent
acts by the right wing. He emphasised that such registry should
include neo-nazis as well.
In an age of atrocity, witness becomes an imperative and a
problem: how does one bear witness to suffering and before what
court of law?
The resistance to terror is what makes the world habitable: the
protest against violence will not be forgotten and this insistent
memory renders life possible in communal situations.
- Carolyn Forche: Introduction to Against Forgetting, 1993.
A question arises whether it will be possible for us to win the
battle against Hindutva terror or we will have to learn to live
it. Looking at the penetration of ideas of exclusion and hierarchy
- which find deep resonance with the project of Hindutva - in our
society and polity and the multifarious organisations built by
executioners of the project to reach out to wider cross-section of
people, immediate victory definitely appears difficult.
Whether we have countries in our neighbourhood who had to undergo
similar experiences ?
If one looks at the South Asian experience it is possible that we
may not get a clear answer.
Friends may cite the example of neighbouring Pakistan where bomb
blasts every now and then killing innocents has become part of its
grim reality today. One is witness to the emergence of terrorist
groups claiming allegiance to this or that sect of the majority
religion there or even some propped up by the ISI, the premier
intelligence agency. Assasination of two of its important leaders
belonging to the ruling party within a span of two months for
daring to defend the rights of minorities and the societal support
the murderers received, has brought forth another sinister
dimension of the situation. It is being rightly said that if
earlier liberal voices were in minority in Pakistan, today they
are an ‘endangered species.’
Sri Lanka, the island nation, also does not offer any alternate
scenario. The decimation of Tamil militancy, has created a
situation where the synergy between Sinhala chauvinism and the Sri
Lankan state has reached new heights making life more miserable
for minorities of various types.
Interestingly, a look at Bangladesh, which in the words of
analysts has been offered ‘another chance by history’ proves
exactly the opposite. The transformations through which it has
passed since last few years demonstrate that not only majoritarian
terror can be reined in but processes can be unleashed at both
structural and superstructural level which create conditions for
building a robust democracy. For any close watcher of the
Bangladesh situation, any such development was unimaginable even a
few years ago.The ascendance of fundamentalist forces aided and
abetted by the ruling dispensation then was part of its stark
The late Professor Humayna Azad, one of the foremost litterateurs
of Bangladesh and a leading human rights activist had in an open
letter to his countrymen just before his mysterious death asked
then “..Should the nation of ours be inundated with blood? Will
the humanity get a shiver watching Bangladesh in this pathetic
state? We don’t have much time. You decide what would be the
proper step to take, and this is my earnest request to you all, my
countrymen, including you- respected PM and the leader of the
opposition.”. (The Bangladesh Observer, 16 August 2004).
Question arises how did the turnaround in Bangladesh took place ?
The young man’s feet were tied to a tree, his head dangling inches
above the ground. A microphone was held to his mouth while he was
tortured so that the villagers who were not present to witness the
“trial” could hear his screams.The first to hear them were the men
in uniform who did not stir from the police station, not far from
the tree. The screams rose and fell till the man was dead.Their
mission accomplished, the killers issued fresh warnings to
villagers against straying from the Islamic way, swore their
loyalty to Bangla Bhai and left the scene.
The incident is one of about 500 cases of killing and torture by
Bangla Bhai’s armed Islamic bands that were documented by
Taskforce Against Torture, a human rights group founded in
Bangladesh three years ago.
(Teacher to tormentor, via Taliban, ASHIS CHAKRABARTI, The
Telegraph, Aug 20, 2005)
It would be difficult to believe today but merely a few years
back, Bangladesh looked a mirror image of today’s Pakistan and
it’s future as a democracy remained bleak. It was a period when
one was witness to repeated, abuses by Islamist vigilante groups
which were engaged in a campaign of attacks on minorities. The
rising wave of hate speeches in public rallies inciting acts of
violence against the Ahmadiyyas and the Hindus and Buddhists had
become a regular feature. It was disturbing to note that even
cinema halls, sufi shrines, traditional village fairs and cultural
functions were then made targets of bomb attacks. The series of
assassinations of respected secular intellectuals, journalists and
academics had rather accompanied assassinations and violence
against opposition party Awami league leaders. In fact,
Bangladeshi intelligence agencies warned the government back in
2003 about JMB (Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh) and the threat it
posed to the state (Daily Star, August 28, 2005).
Sheikh Hasina, then leader of the opposition, herself was the
target of a bombing at the Awami League Headquarters at a massive
rally in Dhaka.(September 2004) Incidentally she had a miraculous
escape. Ofcourse Ivy Rehman, the president of the women’s wing of
Awami League and 21 other League workers could not prove that
lucky. Another towering leader of Awami League, ex finance
minister Shah A.M. S. Kibria also faced death at a political rally
organised by Awami League, in Habibganj situated in Northeastern
Bangladesh merely five months after the attack on Sheikh Hasina.
Just when he had finished his speech handgrenades were thrown at
him in which he was fatally wounded. Four other workers of the
Awami League also died in the melee.
Situation inside Bangladesh looked so grim that around hundred
former civil bureaucrats, diplomats and IGPs jointly issued an
appeal to the government in the aftermath of the killing of Mr
Kabria plainly stating that ““Bangladesh will suffer the fate of
Afghanistan, Darfur / Sudan, and Somalia unless the evils of
extremism and intolerance are stemmed immediately,”( January 2005)
Few months after Kibria’s killing an unprecedented number of
suicide bombings rocked the country. On 17 th August 2005 there
were 350 simultaneous bomb blasts throughout Bangladesh, across 63
of Bangladesh’s 64 district headquarters.A wave of fear struck
Bangladesh bombs exploded almost simultaneously across towns and
cities, killing two persons and injuring about 140.The bombs
targeted government offices, courts, press clubs and universities
in Dhaka and 63 of the country’s 64 district headquarters, sparing
only Munshiganj. Leaflets left at blast sites, bearing the name of
banned Islamist outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, asked the government
and Parliament to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh.
The officially banned terrorist group Jama’atul Mujahideen
Bangladesh claimed responsibility for the attack. Bangla Bhai’s
Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh was also the other principal
suspect for the serial bomb blasts.
The blasts brought Bangla Bhai back at the centre of discussions
on the threat of Islamist jihad in Bangladesh. A former
schoolteacher, whose followers were believed to number over
10,000, he had taken part in the Taliban’s jihad in Afghanistan.
For any keen observer of Bangladesh the trajectory of the country
which declared itself a secular democratic republic at the time of
liberation appeared incomprehensible. Parties like Jamaat-e-Islami
who had never hidden their sympathies towards Pakistan and had
agitated against independence in 1971 were then part of the ruling
coalition led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party ( B.N.P.).The party
had been banned after independence for its role in the war but had
slowly worked its way back to political legitimacy.Ofcourse the
most radical party in the governing coalition and a junior partner
to the Jamaat-e-Islami was Islamic Oikya Jote ( IOJ). Responding
to the American invasion of Afghanistan supporters of I.O.J. even
chanted in the streets of Chittagong and Dhaka ’’Amra sobai hobo
Taliban, Bangla hobe Afghanistan,’’ which roughly translates to
‘’We will be the Taliban,and Bangladesh will be Afghanistan.’’
The April 30 sentencing of four cadres of the outlawed
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) to 26 years of hard labor
for throwing bombs at a local court in 2005 returned the focus to
Bangladesh’s struggle against pressing odds to contain the rise of
Islamic extremism.(Daily Star [Dhaka], May 1, 2008).
Today, Bangla bhai alias Siddiqul Islam and his brand of fanatic
politics is history. But this is merely one aspect of the
turnaround which is being witnessed in Bangladesh.It would not be
exaggeration to say that transformations in Bangladesh are a
matter of debate among economists, social scientists and policy
makers today. It is visible not only in the growth of the economy
at a steady 5-6 % which is touted as the ‘development surprise’
(‘Seminar’ Bangladesh Turnaround, November 2009) but is also
evident in the expansion of the ‘public sphere’, entry of women in
large numbers in the public domain, growth of the old and the new
media and ongoing social campaigns under politico-social
As far as dealing with the challenge of majoritarian terror is
concerned it is clearly visible in the ongoing process of
‘institutionalisation’ which has successfully challenged the
ongoing process of de-institutionalisation when the key
institutions of democratic polity, ranging from the judiciary to
the police and bureaucracy had become heavily politicised and
There are few important aspects of the process which need to be
emphasised and which carry import for countries like us where
similar challenges await us. Bangladesh tells us that a
combination of political will, proactive judiciary and active
citizenry can help rein in the menace of majority terror.
- Political will : The powers that be decided that the atmosphere
of anarchy and lawlessness need to be changed and it should not
appear that crimes against humanity are being condoned. An all out
action programme against the fanatics was launched wherein many
leaders, activists, ordinary workers of these fanatic formations
were jailed or sent to rigorous imprisonment for the crimes they
committed against humanity or few amongst them (including Siddiqul
Islam) were given death sentence. The powers that be decided that
law of the land should prevail and there should not any onesided
ness in its operation and implementation. The installation of a
caretaker government in 2007 under the leadership of Fakhruddin
Ahmed, with due support from the military, proved to be a crucial
factor in this crackdown against the terrorists. (As it happens in
such cases, there were charges of gross human rights violations
against the security forces. Nobody can condone such practices.)
It is noteworthy that, the drive to clip their wings had started
during the BNP regime itself which was supposed to be sympathetic
to them. It was forced to take some action against these groups
because of international pressure. The group was banned in
February 2005 after a key leader—a university professor and
ideologue, Dr. Mohammad Asadullah al-Ghalib—revealed the group’s
plans to overthrow the civilian government through violence (New
Age [Dhaka], February 28, 2005).
-Proactive judiciary : Bangladesh’s judiciary which has been a
beacon of hope in the minds of people for the defence of
secularism and which also saw the rise of fundamentalist forces as
a grave challenge also saw to it that there are no judicial delays
in such cases. In many such cases, special courts were also
constituted to dispense justice.
As an aside it may be told here that recently it gave many
prowomen decisions which have futher challenged the stranglehold
of the fundamentalist forces in one’s daily lives. In October the
High Court officially ruled Bangladesh a secular state by
Bangladesh is now a secular state as the Appellate Division (of
the Supreme Court) verdict scrapped the Fifth Amendment to the
constitution…in this secular state, everybody has religious
freedom, and therefore no man, woman or child can be forced to
wear religious attires like burqa.
- Active citizenry : Bangladesh happens to be one such third world
country where a vibrant public sphere dotted with entry of women
in large numbers into the public domain, a large number of civil
society organisations covering many important areas of human life
and combined with ongoing social campaigns have created conditions
conducive to democracy. Impact of public awareness is very much
visible in its rapid and spectacular improvements in human
development indicators, particularly since 1990s.
Anybody can see that such politically aware, socially conscious
citizenry has always acted as a counterweight to the
Question is whether India can 'follow' Bangladesh as far as
reining in forces of majoritarian terror ?
The writer is author of
several books on Hindutva. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org