Posts Tagged ‘Hindu Extremism’

TERROR ATTACKS: HINDU EXTREMISM | Godse’s War | ‘If We Can Have Bullet For Bullet, Why Not Blast For Blast?’ – Himani Savarkar — Outlook Magazine

November 10, 2008

TERROR ATTACKS: HINDU EXTREMISM | Godse’s War | ‘If We Can Have Bullet For Bullet, Why Not Blast For Blast?’ – Himani Savarkar — Outlook Magazine






Ripped out: Malegaon blast site, Sept 29






Godse’s War


The Abhinav Bharat, with its alleged army links, sets a dangerous precedent. The fight against terror takes another dimension. ......



Pune, once a shy retreat for pensioners, is now a booming business city―a second Mumbai just four hours by road from India‘s commercial capital. Traditionally, it also has the reputation of being Maharashtra‘s cultural and educational hub. But Pune has yet another side, being home to militant and ‘nationalistic’ Hindu ideologies for decades. Marathi Brahmin families scattered across the towns of western India suffered a backlash of sorts at the hands of pro-Congress Marathas and others after the Mahatma’s assassination. They mostly came and settled in Pune, an old Brahmin centre, carrying a deep resentment that runs through generations.



The students or ‘Ramdandees’ prayed to a Ram idol made out of spent cartridges.




This animus sporadically manifests itself, resonating with India‘s politics of suspicion and hate.

In recent weeks, Pune has been in the news after the Maharashtra anti-terrorist squad (ATS) turned its attention here in the




investigations into the September 29 Malegaon blasts. The blast killed six and injured 90 and the terror trail led investigators to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and then later to Sameer Kulkarni, Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, Abhay Rahirkar, Rakesh Dhawde and Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, a serving officer in Military Intelligence. All of them are from Pune and associated with Abhinav Bharat, modelled on an organisation founded several decades ago by Veer Savarkar. Himani Savarkar, married to Veer Savarkar’s nephew, has been the Abhinav Bharat national president since 2006 (see ‘If We Can Have Bullet For Bullet, Why Not Blast For Blast?’).

Slug for slug: Bhonsala Military School

What Abhinav Bharat Does

Though registered in Mumbai, Abhinav Bharat’s association is more with Pune since key members are from the city.

The organisation’s activities clearly reveal its virulent character. In one pamphlet, it even exhorts members to seek revenge for the “killing of millions of Hindus over several centuries”. It has also organised several “conventions” in Bhopal, Raisen and




“I have over 1,000 of my boys in the forces. Each one has been brainwashed by me….”






Vidisha districts of MP, where it is particularly active. At these conventions, it has described Muslims as “dharma shatrus (enemies of the faith)”. More in tune with its militant character, one of the outfit’s slogans reads, “Kshama yachna nahin, ab to ran hoga, sangharsh bada bhishan hoga (No mercy or apology, now it will be war; the battle will be extremely intense).” Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, arrested in connection with the Malegaon blasts, is the outfit’s working president.

The new Abhinav Bharat took shape over several meetings held by senior members from Maharashtra and MP in 2006. It was at this point that Himani Savarkar was approached to head the organisation. According to her, at last count, Abhinav Bharat had nearly 500 members across the country. While the outfit was supposed to “fight injustice and combat terrorism”, its presence began to be felt more through sporadic, suo motu acts of violence.

Where Has It Struck

According to reports, the group has been named in an attack on a Christian family in Jabalpur on August 3. Pastor Sam Oomen and his family were beaten up by a mob allegedly led by a vice-president of Abhinav Bharat. The ATS is also looking for Ramchandra Kalsangra―the brother of Shivnarayan Singh Kalsangra, who is already under arrest in the Malegaon blast case. On November 3, the ATS produced the transcript of an alleged conversation between Pragya Thakur and Ramchandra discussing details of the Malegaon blast. However, the authenticity of the transcripts has been contested by defence lawyers.



On September 16, Abhinav Bharat members held a meeting at the Bhonsala Military School, Nasik, a few kilometres south of Malegaon where the blasts later took place. Interestingly enough, the request for using the school premises came from Lt Col Purohit. D.K. Kulkarni, secretary of the governing council which oversees the school’s overall functioning, says, “Purohit had served with the new commandant of the school, Col S.S. Raikar and so requested him to let the Abhinav Bharat hold its meeting in the school. While we didn’t know much about the organisation, I remember that its constitution did state that its primary aim was to fight against injustice.” 

School council secretary D.K. Kulkarni

Spread over 160 acres, the Bhonsala Military School is different from other institutions of its ilk in that the curriculum stresses on religious instruction too. It seeks to instil “Bharatiya values” and the virtues of Lord Ram among its students. The school campus has been named Rambhoomi and its students Ramdandees. The symbolism blends the religious and the martial: they pray to an idol of Ram sculpted out of used cartridges. Kulkarni explains: “We created it out of the spent bullets fired by our students at the firing ranges.”

Purohit, who was posted with the local Army Liaison Unit (ALU) in Nasik before he moved to Panchmarhi to attend a language course recently, was a well-known figure at the school. Kulkarni says he “remembers that Purohit was posted here in Nasik. We had invited him to deliver talks to the students for some of the four annual lectures we organise every year”. It was the Purohit connection to the blasts that led the ATS to the school and to its commandant, Col Raikar, who has also served with Military Intelligence.

Did The Army Ignore Warning Signs?

Raikar’s appointment in the school raises several questions. The officer had sought premature retirement from the army at a time when the official policy was to discourage officers from leaving, except under exceptional circumstances. These, according to the army’s official policy, were on compassionate grounds or on being overlooked for promotion. In Raikar’s case, there was no such pressing reason for a premature release. On the contrary, he had been sent by the army to attend a course in counter-intelligence in the United States, a reason adequate enough to deny him premature retirement. Strangely enough, Raikar appeared for the selection interview for the school’s new commandant while still serving in the army. While agreeing to his release, army HQ seems to have ignored the fact that the officer was joining a school that had strong ideological leanings with the rss.

Brain wash: MMF chief Lt Col Chitale

Cut to Lt Col Jayant Chitale, a retired air defence artillery officer who runs the Maharashtra Military Foundation (MMF). Chitale lives and operates out of a bungalow a few blocks from Purohit’s home off Law College Road, Pune. He says with some pride, “I have over 1,000 of my boys serving in the three services today. Each one has been brainwashed by me. They are motivated, determined and will do anything for the nation.”

Interestingly, a visitor’s book that Chitale has carefully preserved for nearly two decades lists the names of all the young men who trained under him. An entry on February 20, 1993, lists a young Shrikant Prasad Purohit, residing on Law College Road, Pune. “He was a brilliant boy,” says Chitale, “This Malegaon blast could be the reaction of years of frustration within the army over denial of their rights and prestige.The politicians and the bureaucrats continue to ignore the military at their own peril and these acts could just be the beginning.”

Chitale, whose MMF is now floundering for lack of funds, had several ideas that upset the military establishment. In 2002, he raised a “suicide commando squad” of “dedicated Maharashtrian youth” to be covertly deployed “inside Pakistan“. As news of this reached officialdom, the military brass rushed and requested him to desist from such activities. “There are several kinds of terrorism and these range from petty acts like chain-snatching to terrorism sponsored by foreign countries like Pakistan. If they blow up one bus in India, we must have the capability to blow up five of theirs. That is the only way we can tackle this kind of terror,” says Chitale.

His words echo Himani Savarkar’s credo: “I don’t believe in the philosophy of turning the other cheek if someone slaps you. We must strike back…why can’t we have a blast for a blast?”



Apoorva Guptay

Himani Savarkar at her Pune home





‘If We Can Have Bullet For Bullet, Why Not Blast For Blast?’


The niece of Nathuram Godse, married to Veer Savarkar’s nephew, is the president of the Abhinav Bharat… ......







Till 2000, Himani Savarkar was an architect. That’s when she discontinued her practice to become the president of the Hindu Mahasabha. The 61-year-old Himani lives in Pune and her hardline Hindutva roots are well-entrenched. She is the daughter of Gopal Godse, the brother of Nathuram Godse, and is married to Veer Savarkar’s nephew. Himani is also the president of the Abhinav Bharat. Some members of the organisation have been linked to the Malegaon bomb attack of September 29. Himani spoke to Outlook. Excerpts:

How did you become the president of Abhinav Bharat?

I had known Sameer Kulkarni (the Maharashtra ATS has alleged that he was part of the team that provided logistic support for the Malegaon blasts) for quite some time. Like me, he was also part of the rss. When he decided to start Abhinav Bharat, he approached me to become its president and I accepted.

What are the objectives of Abhinav Bharat?

Our aim is to fight terror―spread awareness of who the real terrorists are and teach people how to oppose terrorism. This should have been done by the government but it has failed to prevent terror attacks. Since the government failed to act, there had to be a reaction. If what the police claim against Sadhvi Pragya Singh and the others is true, then it is just a reaction against the real terrorism….

But is a blast-for-blast strategy the way to tackle terrorism?

Didn’t Maharashtra deputy CM R.R. Patil say that we must reply with a bullet for a bullet? Then why can’t we have a blast for a blast? Sameer Kulkarni and the others are patriots who love their country. But the government is now trying to declare them guilty to weaken the Hindus. We have become a soft state…should we all wear bangles now? The government doesn’t want to fight terrorism. That’s why it will never take action against the Muslims. The police have cracked so many cases like the encounter in Delhi where Muslim terrorists were killed. But as soon as the police takes action, there are shouts for a judicial inquiry.

You have faith in the police when it comes to Muslims as terror suspects but not so when Hindus are accused by the same cops? Also, Muslims say they never got justice after the 1993 Bombay riots and the 2002 Gujarat riots? How do you respond?

This is a demand made by Muslims based on their religion. If they are to make such demands, then there are so many countries for Muslims and they should go live there. There is only one country for Hindus and we must protect it. I don’t believe in reports like the Srikrishna Commission report (on the ’92-93 Bombay riots) because I know how they are managed.

So, has the Nanavati Commission’s report on the Gujarat riots also been similarly ‘managed’?

I don’t know much about that report. But you must remember that it is normal human behaviour to react. All that is happening today is a reaction from the Hindus. I don’t believe in the philosophy of turning the other cheek if someone slaps you. We must strike back. So, if someone takes action to defend the Hindus, then we must defend them.

How should India fight terrorism?

We must declare ourselves a Hindu rashtra where everyone is a Hindu. Anyone who isn’t should be declared a second-class citizen and denied voting rights. Those who have problems with this should leave and settle in other countries. The Hindu votebank must unite to vote out any government that fails to tackle terror. Then we must throw out the outsiders like Bangladeshis who live off India‘s wealth and work towards destroying us.

What if people of other faiths reject your prescription and refuse to call themselves Hindu….

Then they are welcome to leave this country. Those living in Germany are called Germans, in England they are English, then why shouldn’t those living in Hindustan be called Hindus? 



There’s A Wolf In The Foxhole


The Indian army faces up to seeing, for the first time, a serving officer charged with terrorism ......

Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit of Military Intelligence has become the first serving member of the Indian army since Independence to be formally charged with aiding and abetting terrorism. Purohit was arrested late on October 5 with the Maharashtra ATS claiming they have evidence to show that the officer was linked to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and her associates, said to be Malegaon blasts masterminds.

The 36-year-old officer is said to have provided training, arms and even passed on funds to the group. The ATS says monies were passed on to Abhay Rahirkar, the Abhinav Bharat treasurer. The officer also passed on imported revolvers and cartridges to Rakesh Dhawde. Purohit was also in touch with the organisation’s working president Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyay via text messages immediately after the Malegaon blasts. Transcripts reveal the former knew about the terror attack.

Purohit’s arrest raises several uncomfortable questions for the army. Section 21 of the Army Act of 1950 specifically restricts commissioned officers from being associated with “any society, institution or association”. They are also not allowed to “attend or address any meeting or to take part in any demonstration organised by any body of persons for political or other purposes”.

Did Purohit transgress Section 21? The ATS claims Purohit crossed the line, participating in several meetings of the Abhinav Bharat. Not only were the outfit’s hardline Hindutva moorings wellknown, it also propounded that the forces be designated as the “Bharatiya Armed Forces”. It believed the army should be reconstituted in tune with “Bharatiya tradition” and wanted the MoD to be renamed the “Ministry of War”. In the days to come, the establishment will have to look at the Purohit case more closely. Who were his links and, more importantly, are there others like him serving in the forces?




Sadhvi Pragya on her way to Nasik court




Mirror, Mirror


BJP can yet gain from “Hindu terrorism” .........









To Commit Or Not

· Top BJP leaders like Advani and Arun Jaitley have kept silent on Sadhvi Pragya’s arrest 

· Loath to close centre-right doors, BJP is watching VHP, RSS keenly 

· For now, the party is content to oppose terms like “Hindu/saffron terrorism”


Ideological roots and the larger parivar often compel the BJP to defend the indefensible. The party also revels in the simple psychological premise that a suspected Muslim is a terrorist till proven otherwise while a Hindu is being labelled a terrorist “because of the appeasement politics of the Congress party”. This is the sort of logic on which the politics of the Hindu right has been based. Following the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for alleged terror activities, it is therefore no surprise that BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad says: “The BJP strongly condemns terms like Hindu terrorism and saffron terrorism. Those who mindlessly use such terms never use terms like Muslim terrorists, when so many Muslims have been found involved in terrorism.” 

Yet there is a dilemma in the party that also craves for middle-of-the-road respectability, on whether to come out whole-heartedly in support of an individual like Sadhvi Pragya. The leaders with greater national currency and high profiles have kept silent. L.K. Advani, for instance, had hesitated―till the RSS summoned him to Jhandewalan and pushed the case. Subsequently, Advani went along with the line that the idea of “Hindu terrorists” must be attacked, although he has refrained from saying much.

Arun Jaitley, the legal brains of the saffron party, has also kept silent. One leader says bluntly: “It is prudent to wait and watch how the case and the politics around it progresses. If it does indeed appear that the case is falling apart and a public sympathy for Pragya and her associates mounts, it is only then that the main leaders of the party should take a position.” President Rajnath Singh has already taken the “Hindus cannot be terrorists” position, but then he draws all his authority from the RSS. 

There is still ambiguity on whether defending “Hindu terrorists” will nicely dovetail into the Muslim terror-Amarnath yatra-Hindu persecution-Muslim appeasement pitch of the BJP. The most interesting perhaps is the position of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Here is a figure who some see as the only inspirational leader in the Hindutva pantheon. He is undoubtedly the macho man of the saffron party. But he is also the individual who treats the VHP and Bajrang Dal like dirt. He is believed to have stated to a fellow chief minister: “If these fellows create trouble throw them into jail.” Just last week a joint secretary of the Gujarat VHP, Ashwin Patel, was arrested after a three-month investigation into abusive SMSes he sent mocking Modi after the July 26 Ahmedabad blasts. Patel has been charged with sedition, defamation and inciting communal passions. 

In Gujarat, the VHP has declared that Modi is “anti-Hindu”. The petty, black-and-white reasoning of the VHP and Bajrang Dal always concludes that anti-Hindu is pro-minority. The Gujarat VHP general secretary Kaushik Mehta has taken the self-same position that Modi is now “appeasing minorities”. Last week VHP leader Praveen Togadia arrived in Delhi and refused to speak about Modi whom he has known well and famously fallen out with. But he said much about Sadhvi Pragya―”I do not know her at all but know she is not a terrorist because she is a Hindu.” Brilliant defence over, Togadia proceeded to rant about Islam and Muslims. 

There is one interpretation that the RSS-VHP-BJP is now united in trying to get electoral mileage out of the cases of Hindus arrested on charges of terrorism.Ideologically, the parivar and party subscribe to the view of Hindu persecution and encourage militant positions against minorities. But there is also a section in the party that sees the Bajrang Dal/VHP as having no electoral relevance, but great nuisance value. But should Pragya and her accomplices be elevated to cult status, they will not hesitate to participate in the “Hindu” chorus.