Mumbai: The Maharashtra police on Thursday said it was investigating the alleged involvement of a Hindu right-wing group in the blasts which occurred in Malegaon in Maharashtra and Modasa, Gujarat, on September 29. Nearly a month after motorcycle bomb blasts killed six in the textile town of Malegaon the state home department is in possession of specific clues that point to the involvement of right-wing Hindu groups in the blasts.
Three suspects detained in Indore, one of whom is a young woman, have been brought to the city. ‘‘We have good clues on the involvement of people in the Malegaon bomb blasts. Our teams are still camping in Madhya Pradesh. We are working very carefully. We are sure we are near the target and our exercise will be over in a day. If we are satisfied, we will detain them immediately,’’ a top IPS official told TOI on Thursday.
According to reports, the state police had initially detained five people. After a preliminary probe, two were let off. What came as a shock to investigating officials was that of the three detained, one was a woman, Pragya Singh, aged between 25 and 30 years. Singh is believed to be a former member of the Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
The motorcycle used in the bomb blast allegedly belonged to her. Details such as the registration and chassis numbers had been removed with chemicals, but with the help of forensics, investigating officials succeeded in retrieving the numbers. It is learnt that two suspects came to Malegaon from Indore and checked into a lodge before the blasts.
Five persons were killed in the Malegaon blast while one died in Modasa. In both incidents, bombs were placed on motorcycles parked in crowded areas.
‘Hindu’ angle to blasts lands BJP in a spot
NEW DELHI: The emergence of a “Hindu” angle to the Modasa and Malegaon blasts has put BJP in a spot given its sustained campaign against jihadi terrorism even though its leadership feels that none of those detained has an active link with any Sangh Parivar organisation. With reports of Indore-based Hindu Jagran Manch being connected with post-September 13 Delhi serial blasts appearing, BJP leadership did a quick check on the backgrounds and affiliations of those suspected to have had a hand in the attacks which took place in Muslim areas.
The development was discussed by BJP leaders, including L K Advani and Rajnath Singh and some others, at Parliament House on Friday where it was felt that the particular sadhvi — Pragya and two associates — were not connected with the Sangh. But the sadhvi’s previous links with ABVP in the late 90’s were definitely cause for discomfort. The BJP leaders were left with little choice but to take the position that all acts of violence had to be condemned and if the role of the Manch was established, it would have to face the consequences. But there was clearly a sense of unease over the emergence of “Hindu terror” that gave BJP-baiters in Parliament a clear opportunity to have a go at the saffron party.
Sadhvi in jail for Malegaon blast
MUMBAI/NASHIK: The Hindu face of terrorism has emerged with the arrest of three persons, including a woman, suspected to be behind the September 29 bomb blast in Malegaon which killed six and injured 89 others.
TOI had reported their detention in its Friday edition. Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Friday produced them before a Nashik court which remanded them to police custody till November 3. The three have been charged with murder, attempt to murder, unlawful assembly under the IPC and Section 16 (punishment for terror acts) and Section 18 (punishment for terror conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and several sections of the Explosives Act.
The woman has been identified as Pragya Singh Thakur (38), a ‘sadhvi’ (woman monk). According to ATS chief Hemant Karkare, the motorcycle in which the bomb was planted was traced to her.
The other two arrested, Shamlal Bhavar Sahu (42) and Shivnarayan Singh (36), have been accused of plotting as well as planting the bomb at Bhikku Chowk in central Malegaon, just outside the sealed office of the banned outfit, the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Two more suspects — Dilip Nehar and Dharmendra Bajrangi — have also been detained by the ATS.
Those arrested are reported to have given the names of their collaborators. An ATS team will soon go to MP to make more arrests.
‘‘They (the suspects) were driven by their desire to retaliate against ‘jihadi’ terrorism and to avenge the killings of Hindus,’’ said a source in intelligence. Security agencies are alarmed by the clear evidence of the beginning of radicalisation of the majority community. This, they say, is the first instance of reverse terrorism resulting in killing.
According to sources, Thakur, a resident of Gwalior, was a popular leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP, till 1997. The ABVP, though, has denied the allegation. She quit the ABVP and took ‘sanyas’ in January 2007 after becoming a disciple of religious guru Avdeshanand Giri. Thakur, who was in the state executive council of the ABVP, was known for her fiery speeches.
‘‘In 2002, she had formed the Jai Vande Mataram Jan Kalyan Samiti. We have seized some pamphlets and are conducting investigations. She had also launched the Rashtriya Jagran Manch in Indore,’’ Karkare said.
Shivnaryan is an electrical contractor in Indore while Sahu runs a cell-phone repairing shop in Tukogunj in Madhya Pradesh. He is also a small-time property broker. Shivnarayan attends RSS ‘shakhas’ and has a shop in the Bengali Chauraha area.
According to the ATS, Thakur, Singh and Sahu are members of right-wing Hindu radical organisations. Karkare said that the motor bike used in Malegaon bomb blast belonged to Thakur who is now a sadhvi and regularly visited Surat to deliver ‘‘religious lectures’’. Thakur and Sahu had spoken to each other for 400 minutes on the cellphone over several days after the Malegaon blast, an ATS officer said.
Shivnarayan and Sahu have been termed by the police as ‘‘mechanical and electronics experts’’. They are suspected to have assembled the bombs. ‘‘We want to know who taught them bomb making and whether there is any training camp for such destructive activities,’’ said an officer.
Cops had informed Maharashtra deputy CM
MUMBAI: In fact, when deputy chief minister R R Patil, who also holds the home portfolio, visited the affected areas of Malegaon, the suspicion of
Hindu groups’ involvement was brought to his notice.
When asked directly if activists of the ABVP or the Indore-based Hindu Jagran Manch were suspect, the IPS official was noncommittal, saying it was too premature to name organisations at this juncture.
In the immediate aftermath of the blasts, several former members of banned outfit SIMI were called in for questioning. Dozens of Bajrang Dal members were also questioned since the residents of Malegaon alleged that the Dal and the RSS too could have been involved.
Meanwhile, following reports that pro-Hindu organisations were involved in the blasts, security has been tightened at Malegaon.
Besides deploying senior officers, five companies of the state reserve police force and a company of rapid action force have been rushed there. ‘‘There is no immediate law and order problem, but we are not taking any chances,’’ he said.
Colour of Terror
The Maharashtra police believe that they’ve cracked the blast cases in Malegaon and Modasa in end-September where six people were killed. The police
have arrested six people, all of whom belong to an extremist outfit called the Hindu Jagran Manch and have links with Hindu nationalist groups. This is an indication that terror knows no religious boundaries. Just as Islamic terrorists are believed to have been behind the string of blasts that scarred several metros this year, the Malegaon and Modasa incidents show that Hindu radical groups too are turning to terrorism.
This is a worrying trend. Unless these groups are stopped in their tracks, we could face an intensifying period of violence. While the methods employed by Hindu radical outfits are similar to groups like the Indian Mujahideen, there is a vital difference in their functioning. Groups such as the Indian Mujahideen are shadowy in nature and have no identifiable leadership. Indeed, they are opposed to mainstream Muslim political parties. In contrast, those arrested for the Malegaon and Modasa blasts were earlier associated with outfits belonging to the sangh parivar, of which a mainstream party — the BJP — is a member.
The first reaction of the BJP has been to criticise those who have dragged the “name of nationalist organisations in the terror attack”. The BJP must carefully reassess its stand. As a mainstream party, it’s the BJP’s responsibility to condemn terrorists, even when they belong to Hindu outfits. It is equally important for the BJP to use its good offices to rein in or at least dissociate itself clearly from radical Hindu organisations. The BJP must not allow groups like the Bajrang Dal — another sangh parivar outfit — to run amok as they have in Orissa and Karna-taka. If such groups are allowed a free run, the BJP’s image as a democratic mainstream party would be damaged heavily.
The political reaction to the Malegaon blast arrests has been disappointing. In Parliament, the CPM has called for a ban on Hindu outfits such as the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagran Manch. The BJP countered by asking for a ban on SIMI. We’ve written earlier that bans don’t work. Banned outfits usually respond by going underground and metamorphosing into even more radical organisations. Our political parties need to wake up to the fact that there are myriad terror outfits — religious as well as political — operating in the country. They all operate outside our constitutional perimeter and, hence, must be jointly resisted.
-Times of India
Rupee falls to record low of 50.15 per dollar
MUMBAI: The Indian rupee opened trade on Friday at a record low of 50.15 per dollar, weighed down by heavy losses in Asian stocks which raised worries of more outflows from the local share market.
At 9am (0330 GMT), the partially convertible rupee was at 50.00/15 per dollar, compared with 49.81/82 at close on Thursday.
India slips in IT ranking
NEW DELHI: India may be a global IT leader, but the fact is, we don’t have the right environment to encourage IT production in the country. This has emerged from a Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study. The Global IT Competitiveness Index ranks India 48th in the world, down two places since last year. The study done in 66 countries, ranks US as the most competitive country followed by Taiwan and UK. Interestingly, India is two places ahead of China but both countries have lost ground since last year. While India ranked 46 in 2007, China was 49.