Pakistan Observer

Hindutva targeted Samjhota Express

News & Views

Mohammad Jamil

Saturday, October 30, 2010 - During the weekly Foreign Office briefing in Islamabad, spokesperson Abdul Basit said that India should formally inform Pakistan regarding the Samjhota Express probe. Pakistan has also demanded of Indian government to ask the court to expedite verdict on the case against Hindutva terrorists and bring them to early justice. This demand has come at the heels of a report of Indian English daily ‘India Today’ on Sunday making a reference to official admission by an Indian investigating agency that Samjhota Express and the Jamia Masjid Delhi were on the hit list of Hindutva terrorists who were also involved in attacks on Ajmer Sharif, Malegaon and Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad.

The Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad’s 806-page charge sheet on the Ajmer blasts says the module behind these three targets had sinister plans to target the Samjhota Express and Jamia Masjid as well. However, the report stated that it was not clear though whether this terror cell could execute its plan. Over 60 Pakistanis died in the Samjhota Express blast on February 19, 2007, while earlier 13 people were wounded in blasts inside Jamia Masjid on April 14, 2006 – months after this module (according to the Rajasthan ATS) chose them as targets at a meeting chaired by Rashtriya Savak Sangh (RSS) leader Swami Asimanand in February 2006. The bombs used in the Samjhota Express are believed to have been assembled in Indore. But the suspected bomber, Sunil Joshi, was found mysteriously murdered in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, on December 27, 2007. Anyhow, after 44 months of dilly-dallying, India has officially admitted that the Hindutva brigade of the extremist group Abhinav Bharat, of which Indian Army’s serving officer, Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit was an active member, was responsible for the bombings on board the Pakistan bound Samjhota Express. The report confirmed the complicity of the Hindu extremist group Abhinav Bharat, Indian Army officers of the ilk of Lieutenant Colonel Purohit, who actually supplied the explosive material, military-grade explosive RDX, and other Hindu radicals, who had plotted and executed the heinous crimes against humanity as part of their campaign of ethnic cleansing of Muslims. Purohit and retired army Major Samir Kulkarni had also helped train the alleged bombers. India has been officially denying any link of Hindu extremists with the mayhem, death and carnage resulting from the blasts and instead tried to shift the blame for the heinous crime to the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

In November 2008, when the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Mumbai had arrested Lieutenant Colonel Purohit for his involvment in the bombings, the BJP had denounced the ATS as traitors. Bal Thackeray, the supremo of the Shiv Sena, a longtime ally of the BJP, had forthrightly accused the ATS of framing the Malegaon bombing accused. “What Pakistan was not able to do in the last 20 years,” declared Modi, “the Manmohan Singh government has achieved in just 20 days. They have succeeded in branding our soldiers as terrorists.” That is another story that Haimant Karkare, the head of the Mumbai ATS was assassinated by Indian commandos in the garb of fighting terrorists during the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks. There have been voices in India demanding proper investigation to unearth the culprits behind Malegaon blasts and the linkage between the army officers and Hindu extremist organizations. Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in India had claimed that a serving Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, who was arrested in connection with the Malegaon blast, was also involved in 2007 Samjhota blasts. ATS said to the Nashik Court that the accused had used RDX to carry out the blast.

Putting an end to all speculations, the anti-terror branch of Mumbai Police had said that Army RDX was used and not supplied from across the border, which vindicated Pakistan’s position. There is now substantial evidence that Purohit procured 60 kg of RDX from Jammu and Kashmir in the year 2006, a part of which is suspected to have been used in Samjhota Express train explosion and Malegaon blasts, Maharashtra police told the court that Purohit gave a part of the RDX to one Bhagwan who is suspected to have used it in Samjhota Express blast. The RDX was also suspected to have been used in Malegaon bomb explosion, therefore Purohit’s interrogation was necessary, public prosecutor had told the court. Earlier, the Lt Colonel had told the court that he was not ill-treated by ATS personnel as claimed by his family. In addition to Colonel Prasad Purohit (a serving officer) two other army officers were arrested in connection with September 29 Malegaon bomb blasts, five days after Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and two others were held in the case. The two arrested were identified as Major (r) Ramesh Upadhyay from Pune and Sameer Kulkarni from Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

It has become a norm that on every bomb blast or an act of terrorism in India, the fingers of accusation are pointed towards Pakistan and its linkage with Muslim organizations in India. Hundreds of innocent young boys are picked up and kept under illegal detentions. In addition to torture, arrests, harassment of their families, the families and victims are pressured into signing blank papers. In 2007, Indian agencies had accused Harkat-ul-Jehad-i-Islami activist alias Bilal of being involved in Samjhota blasts when two coaches were completely gutted. India often names Muslim organizations, which in fact do not exist. Anyhow, on the demand of Human Rights Watch and other non-governmental organizations the Indian government acknowledged that Hindu extremist organizations were behind the terrorists’ activities. On 24th August 2008 two Bajrang Dal workers died while making bombs. In this age of information technology and media explosion, India could not hide the link between the army and the Hindu extremist organizations. And this policy will surely be disaster for India. Already, India is facing insurgencies in northern states. India is trying to crush insurgency by Maoist Naxals by using military and para-military forces. Today once again the insurrection has spread through the mineral-rich forests of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal - homeland to millions of India’s tribal people. It is easier on the liberal conscience to believe that the war in the forests is a war between the Government of India and the Maoists, who call elections a sham, Parliament a pigsty, and have openly declared their intention to overthrow the Indian State. In Time weekly, Jyoti Thottam wrote: “The Maoist Naxal rebellion is not just a violent and enduring insurgency. It also reflects India’s failure to lift up its neediest people”.

The author quoted Rammohan, the retired Indian Police Service commander who believed that the only solution to the Maoists threat was political. But the Naxals, he says, will be harder to co-opt than militants elsewhere. Other insurgencies are defined by their demands, and once you fulfill them they are neutralized. The Naxals appear to have no specific agenda other than enforcing existing laws on land reform, and the right to food, health and education for the poor. But Indian policies are not geared towards providing basic needs of the population but spending billions of dollars on its defence to become a world power.

—The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.
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