Archive for November 24th, 2008

Togadia funded Abhinav Bharat, Sadhvi said ‘my people’ set off Malegaon bomb: Purohit to CBI – INDIAN EXPRESS

November 24, 2008

http://www.indianexpress.com/story_print.php?storyid=389786

Togadia funded Abhinav Bharat, Sadhvi said ‘my people’ set off Malegaon bomb: Purohit to CBI

Shishir Gupta

Posted online: Nov 24, 2008 at 0131 hrs

New Delhi, November 23 : Arrested Army officer Lt Col Prasad Purohit has told the CBI that VHP general secretary Pravin Togadia was involved in the formation and funding of Abhinav Bharat, the radical Hindu group at the centre of investigations into the September 29 Malegaon blast.
The officer has also said that Swami Aseemanand of Dangs had told him that Sunil Joshi — the man to whom Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur sold her motorcycle that was used in the Malegaon blast— was also involved in the Ajmer Sharif shrine bombing of October 11, 2007.

Sunil Joshi, whom Swami Aseemanand described to Purohit as “apna banda” (our man), was murdered in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh in the last week of December, 2007. The swami, originally Jatin Chatterjee of Bengal, is on the run.

The CBI interrogated Purohit in connection with its investigations into the May 18, 2007 blast at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid.

Purohit is understood to have told interrogators the name of a serving Colonel of the Army, his neighbour in Panchmarhi, who attended key meetings of Abhinav Bharat, including one allegedly hosted by the senior New Delhi endocrinologist R P Singh in Faridabad in January this year.

The Army has denied that any of its officers besides Purohit is under the scanner in the Malegaon probe. Dr Singh has denied involvement in the blast conspiracy.

The CBI report records competing claims made by Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya on the Malegaon blast. Purohit claimed to have met Pragya on October 5, 2008 to tell her that “our people” had carried out the killings in Orissa, burnt down two churches in Karnataka, and also carried out the Malegaon blast. To which, says the CBI report, the Sadhvi retorted: how could Purohit claim that Abhinav Bharat had been responsible for the Malegaon blast, when it was actually her people who had carried out the attack?

Purohit told interrogators that one Prashant Hartalkar, who he identified as the VHP’s Maharashtra chief, had called him on the phone to say that Pravin Togadia wanted him to find out who was investigating the Nanded blast case. In April 2006, an explosion in the home of an alleged RSS worker in Nanded, Maharashtra, killed two men who were suspected to have been putting together a bomb.

The CBI report details plans by Abhinav Bharat to try and ultimately replace the RSS and VHP as the standard-bearer of the ‘Hindu cause’. Purohit claimed to have told VHP leader Eknath Rao Shete that “the RSS needs to change its dress code to attract the youth of the country”.

Purohit also gave details of the conspiracy to eliminate RSS leader Indresh Kumar for ‘getting Hindus killed in Nepal’. He admitted he had, at the behest of Dayanand Pandey (alias Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Mahant Amritanand) and the Pune-based veteran RSS leader Shyam Apte, given a weapon to one Alok, a colleague of the Kolkata-based radical Hindu activist Tapan Ghosh, on April 11-12, 2008 in Bhopal. Next month, he had sent 12 rounds of ammunition to Alok, meant to be used to kill Indresh.

Purohit told the CBI Pandey had asked him to get RDX or some other explosive as “Guru Agya”. But it is not clear if he actually got the explosives.

Pandey also made Purohit contact Dr R P Singh over the telephone in August 2007. The report quotes Singh as having told Purohit that Indresh had “sold off Hindus in Nepal”, a job for which he (Indresh) had been given Rs 3 crore by the ISI. Purohit conveyed this to Togadia, who said that he already knew about this.

Purohit’s interrogation report includes several other details:

• Purohit first met Togadia in February 2006 in Nashik at the home of the local VHP unit head Vinayak. In December that year, he met Togadia in Mumbai and apprised him of the Abhinav Bharat concept. In March-April 2007, Togadia told Purohit over the phone the names of donors to the trust. In August-September, 2007, Togadia gave him Rs 2 lakh, which were subsequently passed on to Abhinav Bharat’s Samir Kulkarni. On August 2, 2008, Togadia severely reprimanded Purohit for breaking up the VHP’s Madhya Pradesh unit.

• On February 2, 2008, Shyam Apte gave Rs 2 lakh to Purohit, and orders to kill Indresh. Purohit passed on the money to another activist, Rakesh Dhawade, who gave him the weapon for Rs 50,000. This weapon was given to Alok. Dhawade, Purohit said, claimed to have trained the RSS cadres who died in the Nanded blast. Purohit had given Dhawade Rs 3.2 lakh the month before, to buy another four weapons.

• The same month, Purohit met Sandip Dange and Ramji Kalsangra with Samir Kulkarni. Ramji and the Purohit exchanged numbers, and decided to keep Kulkarni out of the operation.

• On April 11-12, 2008, Purohit spoke to Sadhvi Pragya at the instance of Aseemanand in Bhopal. The Sadhvi told the officer that Indresh was like a father to her. In June 2008, she told Purohit that she did not want to work with him. He met her five days after the Malegoan blast.

• Apte and Pandey insisted on killing Indresh. Dange called up Purohit repeatedly for arms-training. In July 2008, all those who had come for arms to Abhinav Bharat scattered, including Tapan Ghosh.

• On August 3, 2008, Pandey directed Purohit to get RDX for Ramji at a meeting in Mahakaal Dharamsala. Towards the end of the month, one Pravin Patil came to Panchmarhi to state that he had gained knowledge of explosives through Internet research.

• On Oct 23, 2008, Purohit was interrogated by Col Srivastava of the Army about the Malegaon blast. The Colonel got him to talk to Dr R P Singh.

Time for some meditation By Jyotirmaya Sharma – Hindustan Times

November 24, 2008

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=HomePage&id=1a9975a3-6c03-4f3e-8deb-ba0d2134b149&&Headline=Time+for+some+meditation

 

Jyotirmaya Sharma
November 23, 2008
First Published: 19:47 IST(23/11/2008)
Last Updated: 23:35 IST(23/11/2008)

An amusing spectacle is unfolding on most news channels these days: the top leadership of the BJP strenuously arguing that it is wrong to speak about ‘Hindu’ terrorism. These are the same people who demolished the Babri mosque, coining the slogan Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain (Say it with pride that we are Hindus). They are the same people who encourage and incite lumpens to attack M.F. Husain’s exhibitions in the name of preserving ‘Hindu’ culture. The same who glorified and justified the wilful killing of thousands of Muslims in a premeditated, planned and systematic fashion after the Godhra tragedy in the name of ‘Hindu’ pratishodh (reaction, retaliation). Among them are also people who have invented the most hateful, diabolical and misleading formulation in recent times, arguing that ‘all Muslims may not be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims’. Among these very people are individuals who have flouted every norm and tenet, every single article of faith of the Indian Constitution in the name of preserving Hindu asmita (sense of self). Among them are also people who certify Jinnah’s secular credentials, but brand anyone talking about coexistence, civility and debate as pseudo-secularists.

Having said this, I agree with them that there is no ‘Hindu terrorism’, just as there is no ‘Islamic/Muslim terrorism’. But there is something called Sangh parivar terrorism, just as there is al-Qaeda terrorism. Neither Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur nor Osama bin Laden represent their respective faiths, nor do their organisations represent the people who they claim to represent. To push aside misplaced legalism, just as the charges against the sadhvi are yet to be proved in a court of law, even Osama bin Laden has not yet been indicted by a court of law anywhere in the world. The only difference between Osama and Pragya is that the former is unlikely to contest an election in the future and become a member of an elected body. In the case of Pragya Thakur, given the way in which criminal investigations are conducted, there is a strong possibility of her becoming a people’s representative, as she would only be following a ‘great’ tradition. Just as Osama hides in the impregnable mountains of Afghanistan, the likes of Pragya will hide behind the fig leaf of the democratic ‘will of the people’. This is why very few people in the country speak about political, electoral and administrative reforms, and the Indian polity has been penetrated by criminal elements of both communal and secular hues. If a hundred people tell a lie and another hundred believe in it, it does not become the truth — this classical formulation has been conclusively reversed in our country.

The predicament of the Sangh parivar is akin to having a tub bath, where one only floats in one’s own dirt and filth. From the 19th century onwards, apologists of Hindu nationalism have sought to portray Hinduism as a unified, seamless and monochromatic faith. The mess that is Hindutva is a result of this ideological confusion and intellectual laziness. While it argued, on the one hand, that Hinduism was a tolerant, peaceful, inward-looking, all-embracing faith; on the other hand, there was a call to all Hindus to regain their Kshatriyahood and resort to the virtues of biceps and the Bhagvad Gita.

Every proponent of Hindu nationalism encouraged and promoted the idea of retaliatory violence, be it Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo or V. Savarkar, in the name of preserving righteousness and a fictional unbroken, centuries-old Hindu tradition. All of them were ensnared by 19th century definitions of religion and attempted to mould their own faith, as they understood it, in ways that were alien to the diverse strands of ‘Hinduism’.

Without exception, all Hindu nationalists from the 19th century onwards argued that religion was the core of Hindu nationalism, and moreover, that it was the only core of nationalism. They further argued that if the former was true, then, nationalism was the only religion. It is this formulation that allows the likes of Vajpayee and Advani to argue, to this day, that Hindutva stands for idealism whereas nationalism is their ideology. They say so in the belief that this linguistic and rhetorical contortion will go unnoticed, and it often does. It also manifests in contemporary times as Indian middle-class aspirations of envisioning India as an economic and military superpower. Very little time and energy are expended in discussing the constellation of values that will constitute the heart of this putative superpower. Like their 19th century predecessors, the Hindutva votaries are satisfied as long as they can vanquish their real and imagined enemies, at home and abroad, and impose their national socialist understanding of the idea of will to power.

No nation is either entirely tolerant or wholly wedded to violence. Any civilisation is a composite of the pure and the tainted, and from the struggle between the two emerge values that are sublime, civilised and truly human. This struggle is neither a given, nor is it a zero-sum game, and it impels human beings to make choices. Choosing peace, tolerance, civility and truth is not a sign of weakness as the apologists of violence and retribution will make people believe, but a way of sublimating the beast within us. Buddha, Mahavir and Gandhi were not weak men. Why, then, are their spiritual children afraid to take this crucial leap? I posed this question to a Japanese writer, who also writes on questions of identity and nationalism. He paused for a moment and said: ‘They did not have the burden of contesting and winning elections.’

(Jyotirmaya Sharma is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad)G