'Saffron terror' role being probed
Investigating agencies suspect Hindutva extremists’ hand in 16 explosions across the country
The ''saffron terror'' might well be 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.
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.
Sources said that the IB official had not specified the 12 other cases in which the investigating agencies suspected or probed the role of Hindu extremists.
The phenomenon of ‘saffron terror’ first came to light with the arrest of Sangh Parivar activist Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Army officer Prasad Shrikant Purohit in connection with the September 29, 2008 blast at Malegaon near Nashik in Maharashtra.
The explosion killed seven people and left many other injured. The Maharashtra Police on January 19, 2009 filed a charge sheet, accusing Purohit of being the prime conspirator, who arranged explosives for the blast. It also accused Thakur of arranging the men who planted the bombs in Malegaon.
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 saffron terror.
Thakur, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, has since long been actively involved with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Durga Vahini, Hindu Jagran Manch and other affiliates of the Sangh Parivar. Purohit, a lieutenant colonel in the army’s intelligence wing, was also allegedly involved with Abhibav Bharat – another offshoot of the saffron brigade.
Hindutva extremists’ roles in connection with the blasts on Samjhauta Express on February 18, in Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007 and in Dargah of Sufi saint Mainuddin Chisti in Ajmer on October 11, 2007 came to light during subsequent investigations, particularly in the wake of the confession of Swami Aseemanand.
Aseemanand, who was arrested from Haridwar in November 2010, confessed in January this year that he and other right wing Hindutva activists had been involved with the Hindutva activists’ conspiracies to trigger blasts at Muslim shrines in Hyderabad and Ajmer, killing 10 and three people, respectively.
The National Investigation Agency on June 20 charged Aseemanand and four others – Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange, Ramchandra Kalasangra and Sunil Joshi – with triggering explosions on the India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express, killing 68 people. Joshi was later found dead and Thakur was being probed for her alleged role in the murder.
Dange and Kalasangra had been declared proclaimed offenders in the case and are currently on the run. Aseemanand, however, later claimed that the investigating agency had obtained the confession from him under duress.
Home Minister P Chidambaram’s remark on ‘saffron terror’ during the conference of the DGPs and the IGPs last year triggered widespread criticism from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress, which leads the ruling United Progressive Alliance, too disapproved the remark, stating that terrorism had no colour.
Chidambaram refrained from using the term ‘saffron terror’ in his inaugural address in this year’s top cops’ meet. However, while referring to Islamic extremists organizations like Students’ Islamic Movement of India and Indian Mujahideen, he did refer to “other Indian modules that espouse the cause of right wing religious fundamentalism or separatism”.