Exactly a year before today as Muslims in Malegaon were wrapping up
Tarawih – the special night prayers offered during Ramadan
when the terrorists struck the city once again. They had already
done so in 2006 when they had struck at the eve of Shabe Barat.
This time they chose Ramadan – the holy month of Ramadan regarded as
one of the holiest months in Islamic calendar. And at the time,
Muslims normally gear them up for Eid Al Fitr –an annual mega
carnival that marks end of the month-long fasting.
“We had not taken any food after ending the fast that day. My
husband was late and we were waiting for him so as to have the food
together. As he came, an elated Ferheen rushed to buy the food from
nearby stalls”, recalled Fareeda Shaikh, mother of Ferheen, the
10-year old girl who died in the blast on September 29 last year.
“Suddenly we heard a huge explosion. We were still to comprehend
what had actually happened when someone came and informed that she
had been severely injured in the blast.” Fareeda broke and could
complete somehow. “She never came back after that.”
Like Ferheen, six others had also died in the powerful blast.
In a near simultaneous incident, terrorists had also struck outside
a mosque in Modasa, a town in Gujarat. The blast in Modasa had
killed a Muslim boy.
As these blasts had followed similar incidents in Bangalore,
Ahmedabad and Delhi, and like it was claimed after the 2006 Malegaon
blast, investigators initially suspected Islamist groups such as
SIMI or the Indian Mujahideen to be behind these attacks too.
However as it turned out later, the slain Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS)
chief Hemant Karkare painstakingly carried out an investigation that
finally led to the involvement of Hindu terrorists in the attacks.
Indian Express was the first to break the news:
“The Maharashtra police are said to have cracked the September 29
bomb blasts in Malegaon and Modasa town in neighbouring Gujarat
saying these were allegedly carried out by the Hindu Jagran Manch,
an Indore-based Hindu extremist group known to have links to the
BJP’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The
key suspects are being questioned, top Maharashtra Police sources
have told The Indian Express”, the newspaper wrote on October 23 in
are being very very careful. In fact, when we want to question a
suspect and if he or she has any Hindutvawadi connections, we make
sure once, twice, thrice, that we have enough reason and evidence to
even question. Normally it is not like that. We are able to freely
question anyone we suspect"
The breakthrough though unbelievable for many, was not unexpected
for the Indian Muslims and a vast majority of secular people in the
country - tired of the attacks on innocent civilians occurring on
regular interval on Indian soil. The Malegonians in particular had
believed Hindu radical groups are targeting Muslims ever since they
faced the first attack on September 8, 2006. After September 29
attack in 2008, their belief had become more profound.
“The blast is a clear target on Muslims by Hindu extremists. This
time we want a thorough and transparent enquiry into the
investigations”, people in Malegaon were heard telling ministers and
government officials visiting the city in the aftermath. Hemant
Karkare was also one among them who came to Malegaon after the
“In fact, immediately after the blast I had visited Malegaon along
with the Deputy Chief Minister and other officials and witnessed the
anger of the locals who shouted some slogans," Indian Express had
quoted then ATS chief Hemant Karkare as saying on November 27, 2008
– a day after he was killed in November 26 Mumbai attack. "After
that I told my men that we have to pursue this case very objectively
and not start with assumptions that people of this community or that
community could be responsible."
The investigations opened the Pandora’s Box and besides terrorist
attacks at some other places also unearthed a deeply rooted
conspiracy to overthrow the Indian government. More astonishing was
the fact that some in-service and retired army officers were also
engaged in terrorist activities in association with a Sadhvi and a
“Lieutenant-Colonel Purohit, the first serving officer of the Indian
Army to be arrested in connection with a
terror bomb attack, has confessed to being
mastermind of the Malegaon blast. The 37-year-old officer reportedly
told police he had mapped the conspiracy and provided the explosive
for the for the September 29 'revenge' attack which killed six
It is learnt that Purohit, who was arrested on November 5, admitted
to supplying the deadly RDX and weapons to members of the Abhinav
Bharat, a radical Hindu outfit. Sources said the Mumbai's
Anti-Terrorism Squad was planning to question another serving
army officer in this connection whose
name cropped up during Purohit's interrogation”, Times of India
wrote on November 7, 2008.
Even more shocking, the investigations also threw light on how the
group was planning to kill few RSS leaders:
“As per the ATS report that appeared in the media, ATS
investigations had brought to light sinister plans of the rightwing
organization. Members of Abhinav Bharat – Dayanand Pandey, retired
Major Ramesh Upadhyay, S. Apte and Lt Col Prasad Purohit – were
planning to kill RSS general secretary Mohan Bhagwat and Rashtriya
Muslim Manch’s (RSS outfit) senior leader Indreesh”, Zeenews
said on November 21, 2008.
Every passing day had a new revelation from the Anti Terrorism Squad
(ATS). On the expected lines, the revelations shocked the Sangh
Parivar more than anyone. Their entire theory of Islamic Terrorism
on Indian soil had received severe setback. Bharti Janata Party (BJP)
– the political wing of Sangh Parivar immediately sprang into
actions. On one hand, people allegedly associated with Parivar were
showering flowers over the accused in the Nashik court, on the other
BJP leaders were reportedly using all means to pressurize the
government. This had been admitted by even Hemant Karkare:
the pressure telling on the investigation, what with someone who
could be the next prime minister of the country questioning the
credibility of the ATS?
course," was the answer. "We are being very very careful. In fact,
when we want to question a suspect and if he or she has any
Hindutvawadi connections, we make sure once, twice, thrice, that we
have enough reason and evidence to even question. Normally it is not
like that. We are able to freely question anyone we suspect”,
Indian Express wrote on November 27, 2008 quoting from
The entire investigations, however,
halted after ATS Chief Hemant Karkare died in the worst ever
terrorist attack on the Indian soil on November 26, 2008 in Mumbai.
How the case would be carried forward became imminent when ATS filed
its chargesheet against the accused:
Malegaon bomb blast case investigations exposed Hindu terror groups
for the first time in India. On Tuesday, the Maharashtra
Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) filed a 4,000 page chargesheet in the
case after three and a half months of investigation.
...But there is one setback as the police has failed to get the
chargesheet on record in the MCOCA court. The very fact that the ATS
could not manage to get the chargesheet admitted in the court in
first attempt itself is indicative enough of the technical hurdles
the prosecution is likely to face in this long drawn legal battle",
CNN-IBN reported on Wednesday January 21, 2009.
The hope of any further investigations
or progress into the case received yet another setback when the
special Mumbai court dropped the stringent Maharashtra Control of
Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt
Col Prohit and other accused on July 31 this year.
Exactly one year after the 2008
blast today, people in Malegaon are helplessly recalling the efforts taken by Anti
Terrorism Squad (ATS) under its the chief Hemant Karkare.
"We are miserably missing Hemant
Karkare. The way the entire case is being handled after his unfortunate death is shocking to say the least",
said Advocate Irfana Hamdani to ummid.com and asked, "Where is the
local link? Where are all those people the accused had confessed
giving bomb making trainings?"
In line with Advocate Irfana, Kul
Jamaati Tanzeem leader Abdul Hamid Azhari also expressed shock over
the way case is being handled.
"The country is
facing threats from terrorist groups based in Pakistan, there is no
doubt in this. However, does it mean
we ignore the internal threats that had taken the whole country for
rampage for quite a long time?" he asked.
The pain of Fareeda Shaikh - mother of
the blast victim Ferheen is also not far from different. Stating
that Hemant Karkare had revived the hope of justice among the
people, she said, "But now it seems we will never get the justice."