Concocted Saffron Terror
Giving out a loud chant of ‘Jai Sri Ram’, Swami Aseemanand walked a free man from a special National Investigation Agency Court at Panchkula, which acquitted him and three others in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts case, saying that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had badly failed to prove its case.
Sixty eight people, mostly Pakistani nationals, had died in the blasts aboard the India-Pakistan train – a probe that initially suspected role of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) but took a new turn in 2011 when the NIA took over the case and arrested four right-wing persons for the same. “I was falsely implicated. I was saying so from Day one. I always had full faith in the judiciary,” Aseemanand said while talking to Economic Times before being taken away from court. He was on bail in this case and has already been acquitted in the two other cases in which NIA had charged him in, the Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer Sharif blasts, as the ‘mastermind’. NIA had named the three others acquitted now, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajendra Chaudhary, as the bomb-planters on the Samjhauta Express train.
This acquittal gave a chance to Pakistan to take diplomatic pot-shots at India on the issue of terror as this is perhaps the only case where Pakistanis were killed on Indian soil. Islamabad summoned high commissioner Ajay Bisaria to lodge a protest against the acquittal. Pakistan’s acting foreign secretary told Bisaria that Islamabad had consistently raised the “lack of progress and the subsequent, concerted attempts by India to exonerate the perpetrators of this heinous terrorist act in which 44 innocent Pakistanis lost their lives. It also belies the rampant Indian duplicity and hypocrisy where India reflexively levels allegations of terrorism against Pakistan, while protecting with impunity, terrorists who had publicly confessed to their odious crimes,” he said. If the news reports are to be believed then Bisaria reminded Islamabad that there has been lack of cooperation and that even summons issued to Pakistani witnesses to appear in the court were returned and not allowed to be served. “These summons were returned by the Pakistan foreign office and not served,” claims sources.
J.P. Sharma, Aseemanand’s lawyer, who fought the case for Aseemanand after coming down to Panchkula from the Delhi High Court, said that his client had told him that the UPA government had implicated him for political motives and create a false spectre of saffron terror. “A 164 CrPC confession of his was recorded forcibly before a Judge and used against him in all 3 cases. This court has thrown out that so-called confession,” Sharma said. Sharma further said that no eye-witnesses had identified Aseemanand or any of the three other accused, nor was Aseemanand part of any conspiracy meetings. NIA had claimed that the other three accused in the case had planted the bombs on the train but its charge-sheet said there was no documentary evidence to prove that the men travelled from Indore to Delhi to plant these bombs on the train or that they ever stayed in a dormitory at the Old Delhi Railway Station where they allegedly activated the bombs. NIA in its charge-sheet says the men travelled on fake names from Indore to Delhi on a train and the dormitory did not keep records of occupants beyond few days. NIA also admitted in its charge-sheet that it has no clue how the explosives were arranged for and how the highly sophisticated bombs were prepared. To quote the NIA chargesheet, this was known only to one Sunil Joshi, who was murdered soon after the Samjhauta blasts and who had made it a point to not let such details be known.
The whole episode of planting a spectre of ‘saffron-terror’ in the minds of our country, seems to have an ulterior motive. The real evidences and plotters of the crime were set free and innocent were sent to the gallows. Let us examine some hard hitting facts regarding the incident.
US and UNSC finds Pakistan guilty
Resolution [No 1267] of the Committee on Sanctions of the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] dated 29.6.2009 declares that “Qasmani Arif…chief coordinator of the relations of the [LeT] with other organisations…has worked with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba to facilitate terrorist attacks including…the bombing of February 2007 in the Samjhauta Express in Panipat (India).” Adding that Qasmani was funded by Dawood Ibrahim and he did the fundraising for the LeT and the al-Qaida, the UNSC said, “In exchange for their support, al-Qaida provided support staff for the February 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express in Panipat.” This resolution is available on the UN site. On July 1, 2009, the United States Treasury Department said in its press release: “Arif Qasmani has worked with the LeT to facilitate terrorist attacks, including…Samjota Express bombing.” The US named four Pakistanis, including Arif Qasmani as terrorists, under Executive Order No 13224. The United Nations Security Council and the US Treasury Department thus named the LeT, Qasmani and Dawood Ibrahim as accused in Samjhauta terror. This was just the beginning of the barrage of evidence pointing to the hand of LeT and Pakistan.
Pakistan Minister’s Confession
If one would look at the India Today online edition of January 2010, one would find that the then Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Mallik himself admitted that Pakistani terrorists were involved in the Samjhauta blast, but with a rider that “some Pakistan-based Islamists had been hired by Lt Co. Purohit to carry out the Samjhauta Express attack.”
Headley Involved in Samjhauta — US Probe
In the same year, Sebastian Rotella, a US journalist, wrote in his investigative report in The Washington Post titled ‘U.S. agencies were forewarned about suspect in 2008 Mumbai bombings’, that Faiza Outalha, the third wife of David Coleman Headley had confessed [in 2008, which was made public in 2010] that Headley was involved in the Samjhauta blast. Rotella added that Faiza felt that “she had been innocently used” in the Samjhauta terror. A while later, in a follow up investigation, Sebastian Rotella disclosed that in April 2008 that Faiza returned to the embassy in Islamabad with the tip about the 2008 Mumbai blast when she again linked him to the Samjhauta blast.
Commenting in the same paper, Rotella said that though India and the US blamed the attack on Lashkar, the US authorities had not implicated Headley in that still-unsolved attack, however. So even the independent probe have hinted about the joined hands of Pakistani and LeT terrorists in the Samjhauta blasts.
Narco Test Pointed to SIMI Role
One would remember that at the onset of investigations into Samjhauta blasts, the police and other investigative agencies had clearly pointed to the role of the Students Islamic Movement of India [SIMI] and the LeT in the blasts. A report in India Today at the time, directly blamed SIMI for the attack. The magazine had access to the narco- analysis test of the SIMI leaders. The narcotic tests were carried out on general secretary of SIMI, Safdar Nagori; his brother Kamruddin Nagori and Amil Parvez in Bangalore in April 2007, three months after the Samjhauta blast. These testimonies revealed that SIMI activists had executed the Samjhauta blast, with the help of the Pakistani nationals from across the border; while Nagori was not directly involved, two members of SIMI, Ehtesham Siddiqui and Nasir, were directly involved; SIMI members, including Nagori’s brother Kamaruddin, were involved in the Samjhatua blast; for executing the Samjhauta blast, the Pakistanis had purchased the suitcase cover from Kataria Market in Indore and one of the members from SIMI had helped the Pakistanis to get the suitcase cover stitched. Investigation had established that in the Samjhauta blast, five bombs packed in suitcases and activated by timer switches were used.
Now, the question arise that why were these clinching pieces of evidence not pursued? How the blame shifted from the Islamists to the Hindus? It seems that some elements had colluded in linking the terror angle to the theory of Hindutva for their political gains. If that was not the case then why the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad [ATS] shockingly told the Special Court through the public prosecutor that Col Purohit allegedly involved in the Malegaon blast in which RDX was used, had supplied RDX for the Samjhauta blast though one ‘Bhagwan’, when the leads were thus pointing to Pakistan and SIMI as partners in the Samjhauta blast!
Congresss’ ka Hath Pakistanio ke Sath
Ever since India began to be subjected to unabated terrorism from Pakistan, mostly in direct collusion with the authorities in that country, there have been unmistakable signs on part of certain vested interests in India to hang on to some straw of ‘Hindu Terror’. The arrest of Sadhvi Pragya, Lt Col Purohit and Swami Aseemanand elicited much joy and satisfaction amongst a section of the polity, professional activists and many in the media. Even the Supreme Court of India, in a bizarre display of double standard, has established different norms for granting bail to minorities and other privileged members of society vis-à-vis Hindus arrested under draconian laws. If one remembers right, then the apex court had upheld the bail as constitutional right for Syed Kazmi, an accused in the case of attack on Israeli diplomats as opposed to denial of bail to Sadhvi Pragya and others, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, where the prosecution was hell bent on making a false case against them. But investigations into the much-hyped Hindu terror cases are as expected hitting a dead end, causing a major embarrassment for the Congress. The cases, including blasts at Malegaon I and II, Ajmer, and Samjhauta Express, in which Swami Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya and others have been made the main conspirators, lack corroborative evidence.
One has seen how the Muslim accused were freed on bail and the Hindu saints and activists were detained in the jail without substantial grounds. Fake charges against activists related to different Hindu organisation were levelled to establish an unreal Hindu terrorism or saffron terrorism as equalled with the real Islamic terrorism under a conspiracy of a seemingly anti-Hindu Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at that time . if the memory serves right, then one remembers how a monthly journal had accused RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat of indirectly giving permission for carrying out blasts in the country. The monthly claimed that it had taken interview of Swami Aseemanand, and it was he who had made these claims. It is interesting to note that the correspondent of the monthly magazine was allowed to talk to the Swami that too in jails, itself speaks of the collusion of the powers that be at the time. The then Congress government at the centre was quick in accepting this baseless accusation, already denied by Aseemanand. Their government in their zest of proving the concocted ‘saffron terror’ tag was ready to accept any accusation against the Hindu leaders, but didn’t take any action on complaints of Hindu organisations or people. In fact when a tape was released in which some people were hatching up a conspiracy to kill RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and senior leader Indresh Kumar, the Congress government didn’t even order a probe. Likewise, the 2007 Ajmer blast accused Bhavesh Patel had sent a letter to National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court saying Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde forced him to implicate Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat and senior leader Indresh Kumar in the terror strike. He also named Digvijay Singh, RPN Singh and Sri Prakash Jaiswal, but the then government didn’t pay any heed to this allegation. The one-decade rule of the Congress had seen many activists of RSS and other Hindu organisations, being implicated in Samjhauta Express blasts, Ajmer blasts and Malegaon blasts. The Congress government was using its agencies to frame charges against the RSS and its activities. It seems that the Congress was hell bent on creating propaganda of saffron terrorism in the country. In the quest of getting mass votes of Muslims in the country, and to proclaim itself the whole-sole guardian of the Muslim interests, the Congress party was putting forward this connotation of Hindu terrorism. The Congress party knew that it can’t prove anything in the court of law, so it followed the tactics of creating propaganda against the nationalist elements in the mind of the people. From the time the then Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi raised the issue of Hindu terror with American diplomats, as reported by Wikileaks in 2010, there has been conscious effort by the Congress party to bring the RSS and the BJP into the ‘ saffron terror’ umbrella by hook or by crook.
With an eye on the minority votes, it seems, the Congress has followed a conscious strategy to link Hindutva to terrorism. Interestingly, after the creation of NIA, all such cases were clubbed together by the UPA government, which helped in coining a malicious terminology of Hindu terror. For the past twelve years, thorough investigation has been going on by multiple government agencies and for the last ten years, NIA has been investigating all possible angles of these cases. But, the NIA is yet to find a shred of evidence against the RSS leaders. Whatever cases are there against the accused, it’s only on the basis of confessional statements, which were obtained under coercion. However, these confessions were also retracted later in the court. Apart from these, NIA has no independent evidence against the accused. It should also be taken into consideration that there are at least three sets of theories and two confessional statements with regard to the Samjhauta blasts. The ploy to create ‘Hindu terror’ equivalent to Hafiz Sayeed was too clear for most discerning Indians. Interestingly, the first revelation about involvement of ‘Hindu groups’ in Malegaon blasts (Malegaon-II) was made in end 2008, i.e. just before the Lok Sabha elections in 2009. Then revelations about involvement of the same groups in Malegaon blasts of 2006 (Malegaon-I) and Samjhauta Express came at a time when the government was beset with damning accusations and was politically most vulnerable. All these things show, how the Congress was playing into the hands of Pakistan and its stooges, just for some million votes.
Finally, with the release of Swami Aseemanand, justice has been served and the myth of ‘saffron terror’ was busted.
By Nilabh Krishna