Hemant Karkare’s first LEAD…
Many masks must be removed to discover the sinister face of those behind this conspiracy engineered by terrorist groups with intimate links with the RSS
Hardnews Bureau Delhi
Investigators probing the web of radical Hindus involved in serial blasts all over the country a few years ago - a fact corroborated by Swami Aseemanand's explosive confession - are slowly coming around to the view that the grand conspiracy to communalise society and capture power at the Centre was not a fanciful flight of the lunatic fringe among fundamentalist, Right-wing Hindus. This dangerous project to tear apart India's secular fabric and provoke militaristic confrontation with Pakistan was conceived and blessed in the last days of the BJP government in 2004. (See Hardnews, 'Who pulled the trigger on Hemant Karkare', June 2010, http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2010/06/3562)
Information filtering to Hardnews from authoritative sources in the government indicates that some key officials of the country's intelligence and security set-up were part of this project. There is a clear imprimatur of a covert intel operation very similar in blueprint to the one adopted by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) when it infiltrated madrasas and began to recruit the clergy to fulfil its nefarious agenda to radicalise Pakistan and use mad elements to spread terror and mayhem in India. In India, some powerful people in the country's internal security set-up reportedly worked closely with Hindu radicals and helped carve a separate outfit to immune Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and allied outfits from any future criticism for their alleged involvement.
The game plan here, too, was to use fanatic Hindu hardliners, obsessed with Muslim hate politics, who wanted to exact revenge against Pakistan and, by extension, Muslims, who were allegedly responsible for terror attacks in India. Army and security forces were also infiltrated by these elements for a larger game, as subsequent investigation would reveal.
Between 2006 and 2008, there was a rash of bomb attacks in different parts of the country. Many Muslim youth all over the country were arrested, and quickly branded as the culprits behind the blasts. Their families hounded, they were reportedly brutally tortured, and condemned to long spells in jail, most of them on fabricated charges with cooked up or no evidence. Although local police made these arrests, there was definitely a larger design. In fact, even after BJP's ouster from power in 2004, there remained elements in the security establishment who were running the operation that had been stitched together during the BJP-led NDA regime, with several ministers strongly linked to the RSS, including the Union home minister. So dominant was the stereotype of Muslim involvement in terror attacks that no one really questioned the police or the Intelligence Bureau for their quick 'successes'.
Barring some media entities and civil society activists, no one paused to hear the anguish of Muslim mothers in Jaipur, Hyderabad, Azamgarh or Mumbai, pleading innocence for their incarcerated sons or husbands - many of them educated young professionals, who were beaten and brutalised in police custody, accused of belonging to SIMI or Indian Mujahideen, or just supporting Muslim radical groups.
Every bomb blast contributed in hardening of India's position towards Pakistan, and to the relevance of RSS and allied Hindutva forces for the security establishment. For many, showing up Pakistan-sponsored terrorists as serial bombers strengthened India's bargaining position in the international arena.
Since India is a big, chaotic country and a not a lab where life unfolds ceterus paribus (all things remaining the same), a professional police investigator probing the Malegaon (Maharashtra) blast of September 29, 2008, found to his surprise the hand of some shady radical Hindu groups. Like Albert Camus in his classic The Outsider, the head of Maharashtra's Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), Hemant Karkare, refused to jump to any conclusion about the perpetrators and follow the typically easy route of arresting some Muslim youth and branding them 'terrorists'. Instead, he and his team did things in an old-fashioned way and found the trail of evidence leading to a radical Hindu group in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
One thing followed another and Karkare's investigation was coming to close the bone when he picked up a serving colonel, a preacher and a few other individuals affiliated with RSS and allied fundamentalist Hindutva outfits. BJP and RSS leaders saw in the probe a grand conspiracy to sully the 'good name' of the Hindu saintly class. LK Advani howled and so did many other BJP/RSS leaders at this 'blasphemous' line of investigations, which deigned to suggest that extremist Hindus could trigger bomb blasts and participate in mass murders.
Karkare was threatened with death and abused by anonymous callers. Unfazed, he assiduously collected evidence about the bizarre network of bomb-makers and their sympathisers in India and abroad. Besides Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, who floated Abhinav Bharat and provided key dope about this network, there were many others in the armed forces whom Karkare wanted to interrogate - at least seven army officers were on Karkare's list, when tragedy struck.
On November 26, 2008, sea borne terrorists landed in Mumbai and spread death and mayhem. Karkare was mysteriously shot on that fateful night. There was belief and sharp suspicion among several sections that his death was linked to the Hindutva terror investigation. Jury, though, is still out on what happened on that dark, sinister night.
Uncannily, after lying moribund for a while under the new ATS boss, KP Raghuvanshi, the probe into Hindutva terror began to gather steam from other parts of the country. The anti-terror squad investigating the 2007 Ajmer blast in Rajasthan, after initially blaming Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), found evidence that led them to some of the worthies linked to Indore-based Hindutva terror groups. The change in this line of probe took place last year and led to the chargesheeting of five arrested suspects who had links with the RSS.
One of the key persons arrested was Swami Aseemanand. He initially maintained silence, but due to change of heart brought about by his stay in jail - he interacted with a compassionate Muslim youth who genuinely took care of him and who was wrongly jailed for Aseemanand's crime - he started singing like a canary. His clear confession, made in front of the magistrate, laid bare the body of lies that India's security establishment, with help from Hindutva outfits, had fed the entire country - that all the bomb blasts were triggered by angry Muslim radicals trying to exact revenge for the Gujarat carnage and other atrocities.
Aseemanand revealed that many high-profile terror incidents were the handiwork of his associates. His confession came in 2011, three years after Karkare had managed to scoop out his admission of involvement in the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing. Evidently, the delay in joining the dots of Hindutva terror may have allowed many others to clean up their act. Karkare's death, therefore, served the purpose of derailing an important investigation that, on hindsight, has important implications for preserving the secular nature of the Indian polity and internal security apparatus.
Aseemanand's confession about the Samjhauta bombing is a game-changer. The blast had come just a day before Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri was to come to Delhi to resume peace talks. More than 60 Pakistani nationals were killed, casting a shadow on the talks and bringing once again to the fore the involvement of LeT and other Pakistan-based terror outfits that were keen to sabotage peace. Now, with Indian police abandoning the absurd, one-dimensional trajectory of probing 'Muslim involvement' and finding instead the hand of shadowy Hindutva terrorist groups behind the Samjhauta blasts, it is possible for the two countries to start talking more realistically.
Sensing a crack in India's dominant position about Pakistan-based terror groups causing problems in India, Islamabad has asked for the details of the Samjhauta probe. New Delhi has promised to provide these once the probe is completed.
However, many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are still missing. Also missing are some members of this gang, who may have been allegedly eliminated in a 'sinister inside plot' like the chief bomb-maker, Sunil Joshi. Even his death was pinned on some hapless Muslims.
Aseemanand's confession has again brought to the fore the name of a senior RSS leader, Indresh Kumar, who had earlier figured on Karkare's radar. He has been accused by Aseemanand of recruiting Muslim youth for nefarious purposes. All these people, as different investigations have pointed out, had organised military training in camps across the country. Lt Col Purohit had talked about a military school in Pune where these people are trained in making and blasting bombs.
What Aseemanand has revealed are the contours of a sinister and dangerous fascist conspiracy, spearheaded by some extremist elements within the RSS, or those closely linked to them. This deadly mission was singular in its goal: to communalise and polarise the secular Indian social fabric, to unleash mass-scale violence, deaths of innocents, blood and gore, and equally bloody counter-reactions, to target Muslims (and Hindus who visit the Ajmer sufi shrine), and push the country to the threshold of violent anarchy. They also wanted India to go on a collision course with Pakistan, something the Pakistani jehadis and terrorists too want so desperately. Significantly, these elements had infiltrated the army and intelligence agencies to serve their dangerous agenda.
The RSS leadership has been trying to distance itself from Abhinav Bharat by claiming that they do not entertain extremist elements. It is taking refuge behind a statement by Lt Col Purohit that they wanted to hit the Sangh's leadership as it was soft. But the probe hints otherwise.
The involvement of Indresh Kumar and many footsoldiers indicates that what is visible is what it is. Digvijay Singh, who has been spearheading a campaign against Hindu terror groups, has rightly asked the RSS leadership as to why they refused to report to the police about the extremist elements they were claiming to remove or sideline from their organisation. Is the RSS hiding something? What?
Quite clearly, many masks would have to be removed to know the real face of those behind this grand conspiracy engineered by Hindutva terror groups with strong, intimate links with the RSS.