Posts Tagged ‘Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit’

A running thread of deep saffron – By Christophe Jaffrelot – The Indian Express

January 29, 2009

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/a-running-thread-of-deep-saffron/416409/

 

A running thread of deep saffron

 

Christophe Jaffrelot

Posted: Jan 29, 2009 at 1107 hrs IST

The people behind the Malegaon terrorist attack fell into three categories — Sangh parivar cadres, army men and old Savarkarites. The first person to be arrested by the police, Pragya Singh, was a sadhvi and former ABVP leader. A second group of the accused comprised army men, retired or not, related to the Bhonsle Military School (BMS). Major Ramesh Upadhyay, a former defence services officer was arrested first, but the key figure was Lt Col Prasad Purohit, who had approached Upadhyay when he was posted at Nasik as liaison officer. Purohit and Upadhyay imparted military training to young activists — including bomb making — and were instrumental in getting arms and explosives. 

Most of the training camps took place in the BMS, which had been directed by Rtd Major P.B. Kulkarni between 1973 and 1988, andwho had been associated with the RSS since 1935. In fact, the Bajrang Dal organised training camps in the BMS (Nagpur) as early as 2001. The five accused mentioned above were all members of Abhinav Bharat, a Pune-based movement initiated by Purohit in June 2006, whose working president was Ramesh Upadhyaya but whose president was none other than Himani Savarkar, V.D. Savarkar’s daughter in law, who also headed the Hindu Mahasabha.  

The people, the places and the modus operandi are revealing of the continuity that underlines the Hindu tradition of terror, harking back to V.D. Savarkar. The young, revolutionary Savarkar had created the first Abhinav Bharat Society in 1905. The movement drew its name and its inspiration from Mazzini’s ‘Young Italy’, but was also influenced by Frost Thomas’s Secret Societies of the European Revolution, a book dealing mostly with the Russian nihilists. The movement was dissolved in 1952, but ten years back, just before finishing his term as Hindu Mahasabha president, Savarkar had created the Hindu Rashtra Dal, another militia whose mission was to impart military training to the Hindus in order to fight the Muslims, Gandhi’s followers and the Mahatma himself. This movement cashed in on the work of the same institution — the Bhonsle Military School, started in 1935 by B.S. Moonje, another Nagpur-based Savarkarite, after a European tour which had exposed him to Mussolini’s Balilla movement.

Like the Abhinav Bharat of today, the Hindu Rashtra Dal attracted Hindutva-minded Maharashtrian Brahmins — especially from Poona — who found the RSS insufficiently active. Some of them also had connections to the British Army.

Nathuram Godse and N.D. Apte, the two main architects of Gandhi’s assassination, are cases in point. Godse thought that RSS strategy contented itself with “organisation for the sake of organisation”. The Hindu Rashtra Dal, by contrast, organised training camps where volunteers learnt how to manufacture bombs and use guns from bicycles and cars. The key instructor was N.D. Apte who had served the army as Assistant Technical Recruiting Officer. In this capacity, he could use the War Service Exhibitions — which were intended to attract young Indians to the army — to initiate Hindu Rashtra Dal members into the art of modern arms.

The Hindu Rashtra Dal’s terrorist agenda culminated in the assassination of Gandhi, who had already been a Savarkarite target before — in 1934, they threw a bomb in Poona Municipal Town Hall where Gandhi was making a speech against untouchability.  

While today’s Abhinav Bharat belongs to an old tradition harking back to Savarkar and even Tilak, the new element here lies in the implication of one serving officer of the Indian army. Certainly, any institution can have a black sheep. But was he that isolated? He has already named other officers who would have been his more or less passive accomplices and his colleague, Upadhyay, who once headed the Mumbai unit of the BJP’s ex-servicemen cell. The BJP, indeed, inducted ex-army men in large numbers since the 1990s. After the BJP came to power in 1998, two dozens ex-servicemen more joined the party. This inflow of ex-army men may reflect the increasingly communal atmosphere of the institution. In December 2003, a survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies for Tehelka, one of the first among army men — and probably the most comprehensive — showed that 19 per cent of the soldiers interviewed felt that the army practised some religious discrimination — and 24 per cent of the Muslims among them shared this view. 

Instead of distancing itself from the Hindu terrorists, as it had done in the 1940s, this time the Sangh Parivar has decided to support the Malegaon accused. Bajrang Dal chief Prakash Sharma declared that “policy makers should be worried if the Hindus were taking to arms because of the government’s skewed approach to war on terror” and admitted that the Bajrang Dal was running training camps too “to boost their morale [the Bajrang Dal’s members]. The country wouldn’t get its Abhinav Bindras if there were no armed training for the youth”.

In a way, the RSS, with the Bajrang Dal, has created a buffer organisation to handle the dirty work that the Sangh was earlier obliged to do itself — work similar to that of the Savarkarite organisations, whether they are called Hindu Rashtra Dal or Abhinav Bharat. 

     

The writer is a political scientist and South Asia specialist at CERI, Paris

Malegaon Bomb Blast: Taped phone conversation of the alleged ‘conspirators’ : The Indian Express

January 21, 2009
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/cat-is-out-of-the-bag…we-have-to-be-m…/413399/

‘Cat is out of the bag…we have to be meticulous…cautious’
Posted: Jan 21, 2009 at 0338 hrs IST
SUKANYA SHETTY & SMITA NAIR
MUMBAI: For Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, two of the 11 chargesheeted in the Malegaon bomb blast case today by theMaharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, news that they were apparently hoping would never become public — and lead to their arrest days later — came on October 23 last year.

It was the day The Indian Express first reported that the ATS was believed to have cracked the September 29 bomb blast case and suspected it to be the work of a Hindu extremist group based in Indore. Later that day, the ATS also announced that it had arrested Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur and two of her accomplices in connection with the attack which killed six Muslims during the fasting month of Ramzan.

The news is believed to have triggered hectic telephonic consultations between Upadhyay and Purohit, now named the main conspirator in the chargesheet. The alleged conversations, however, were not private. Their phones had been tapped by the ATS and all the chatter recorded. Transcripts of the calls, among several others, now form a part of the chargesheet and the ATS expects they will play a big role in nailing the case.

The Indian Express is in possession of transcript copies of some of those conversations between Purohit, who was in Madhya Pradesh, and Pune resident Upadhyay. The duo frequently refer to a “Mr Singh” in most of the calls, which ATS sources said was their code for Sadhvi Pragyasingh, based on the interrogation of the suspects.

The first of the transcripts are from a call made at 11.23 am., which lasted 5 minutes and 38 seconds:

 

Purohit: Sir, have you read today’s headlines…

Upadhyay: I have read about Hindu Jagran Manch of Indore being blamed for Modasa and Malegaon blast.

Purohit: That is Singh sahib.

Upadhyay: OK.

Purohit: That means the cat is out of the bag now as far as Mr Singh is concerned.

 

During this conversation, the two men discuss how much the police might know from the information that has been shared with the media and Purohit goes on to ask Upadhyay to get a new mobile SIM card for himself.

 

Purohit:…so what I am suggesting to you is, Sir…

Upadhyay: Yes.

Purohit: If you can kindly procure one more SIM for yourself.

Upadhyay: One more…

Purohit: SIM card.

Upadhyay: OK.

Purohit: Which may not be your own.

Upadhyay: OK.

Purohit: who karle turanth sir (Please do this immediately sir)

Upadhyay: theek hai, dekhta hoon (ok, let me see)

Purohit: Yes, Sir.

Upadhyay: Anything you suspect?

Purohit: No sir, but let us be very meticulous now.

Upadhyay: Yes, we have to be…

 

ATS sources say the two men were also through the day allegedly trying to find out more information about the progress of the case and exchanging notes. Excerpts from one such call which lasted 10 mins and 59 seconds and was made at 5:54 p.m.:

 

Purohit: Some developments, Singh has sung a song quite a bit.

Upadhyay: OK.

Purohit: Situation is of tension. Your name is not figuring there.

Upadhyay: OK.

Purohit: My name is likely to figure.

Upadhyay: OK.

Purohit: This is the last phone call from this phone. I will give you one more number jo maine kal aapko jisse phone kiya tha (from which I had called you yesterday).

Upadhyay: OK.

Purohit: Uske baad main switch off ho jaoonga (I will switch off after that)

Upadhyay: OK.

Purohit: I tell everyone…not to talk to me.

Upadhyay: OK.

 

Later in the same conversation, Upadhyay tells Purohit that police were also making inquiries about him.

 

Upadhyay: See, when the chap has come to me, my name has also figured. There is no doubt about it because otherwise why should anybody come at my place.

Purohit: Yes, but sir, aise hai na, ek to aapka naam aaya hoga (your name must have figured) because of organisation head karke.

Upadhyay: Maybe, whatever be the reason, but checking has started.

Purohit: Yes.

Upadhyay: Checking has started means we have to be cautious.

Purohit: Very much, Sir.

 

Again in this conversation, the two men talk about the Sadhvi and wonder how much information she may have revealed, according to the transcripts.

 

Upadhyay: My suggestion would be that she had taken your name, it is confirmed now.

Purohit: It is confirmed now.

Upadhyay: OK, fine, she has taken your name but they will not be able to trace you immediately, that is for sure.

Purohit: Sir.

Upadhyay: It appears that she might tell the location if she knows.

Purohit: Sir.

Upadhyay: That you are here and there or whatever but then your right name is difficult so immediately it cannot be done. He has changed his number. Sudhakar. So it does not appear that they will be able to directly contact you. So that much safety factor is there and thirdly you are not in the organisation as such.

Purohit: Sir.

Upadhyay: So that much safety factor is still there but naturally some sort of problem cannot be avoided

Purohit: Sir

Upadhyay: Now, well, to tackle it, I suggested that we have a lawyer. Because I was suspecting and something or the other trouble will get created unnecessary and we will have to sort it out.

 

In an earlier conversation during the day, during a call made at 4.12 p.m. which lasted 5 minutes and 18 seconds, the serving and former army officer suspect the hand of the Nationalist Congress Party behind the news. They think the NCP, whose leader R R Patil was then Maharashtra Deputy CM and Home Minister, had leaked the information to divert attention from the furore over Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists attacking north Indian migrants who had come to Mumbai to appear in railway job exams.

Upadhyay was arrested five days later on October 28 and Lt. Col. Purohit on November 5.

 

 

MALEGAON TERROR SUSPECT PUROHIT PLANNED ISRAEL BASED HINDU GOVERNMENT-IN-EXILE : THE INDIAN EXPRESS

January 20, 2009

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/purohit-planned-israelbased-hindu-govtinexile-support-from-thai-co…/412947/

Purohit planned Israel-based Hindu govt-in-exile, support from Thai contacts: ATS chargesheet today

Smita Nair
Posted: Jan 20, 2009 at 0305 hrs IST

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chargesheet in the Malegaon blast case claims that as per statements from the accused the town was singled out for the blast as “it was the ideal place where the Muslim community crowd was the maximum” and that prime accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit had told fellow conspirators it was time to set up a parallel, Hindu government-in-exile which could operate out of Israel and ensure a completely sashastra (armed) India.

Purohit, according to the chargesheet, promised “all logistic help” with finances from several quarters and support from some of his contacts in Thailand.

The ATS chargesheet, which includes two important confession statements, statements of witnesses under Section 164, laptop records, telephonic records, detailed SMSes and financial transactions across states, will be filed tomorrow in the designated MCOCA court chaired by sessions judge Y D Shinde.

The ATS will tell the court how a group called Abhinav Bharat became a “front organisation” for a conspiracy which led to an explosion at 9.26 pm on September 29, 2008 at Bhikku Chowk, Malegaon. While all eleven accused have been charged with conspiracy, logistics and execution of the blast, the key roles, according to the ATS, were those of Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Sudhakar Dardwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey.

This will be the first case where a probe has been able to reach the conspirators — unlike other cases where only those who planted bombs have been arrested. In this case, the alleged bomb planters — Sameer Dange, Ramji Kalsangra — and Pravin Patil, another on the wanted list, remain at large. Patil also used the cover name of Mutalik and is a close aide of Purohit.

While the forensic finding of the chassis and engine number of the motorcycle used in the blast — it was a Gujarat registration number GJ-05-1920, owned by Pragya Singh Thakur — led the ATS to Gujarat, it was the statements of witnesses and the forensic report that helped the ATS build a strong case.

The ATS chargesheet has relied heavily on the statement of Sudhakar Chaturvedi (37), the last to be arrested, who said Purohit had called him on September 17, asking him to give the keys of his house in Deolali to a person named Pawar. According to the ATS, Pawar handed the keys to Ramji Kalsangra who along with some others used the house to assemble the bomb that was eventually used in Malegaon.

The ATS team took a picture of Ramji to the locality where Chaturvedi stayed. Two witnesses identified him and confirmed that Ramji did come to the house. A search of the house revealed remains of items used in making the bomb — this was verified by a forensic team. Evidences include recordings from the laptop of Sudhakar Dardwivedi which also has footage of various meetings.

Of the arrested, it is Rakesh Dataram Dhavde’s involvement in the conspiracy that led the ATS to slap MCOCA charges against all ten accused. Pragya Singh’s telephonic conversations recorded with accused Shyam Sahu immediately after the blasts will be included in the chargesheet.

According to the ATS, the Abhinav Bharat, a group founded on June 12, 2006 in Raigad where Shivaji was coronated, initially had retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay in the role of working president. Later, under the control of Purohit, it became the “front for an agenda of creating a Hindu Rajya”.
While the “anger and the determination” to create a parallel Government which “gives power to Hindus” can be seen in the records of the many meetings that transpired between the accused, the ATS says that it was at a meeting in Bhopal where the conspiracy for Malegaon was hatched. Purohit was said to have convinced the group that the time had come for a parallel government — and he detailed the idea of a bomb blast.The group, according to many statements of the accused, was told about possible safe houses in Israel from where the conspirators could operate once their ideology took root and their numbers increased.

According to the ATS, Pragya Singh promised “two of her men” from Gujarat. Upadhyay and Pune-based Ajay Rahirkar played key roles in logistics, conspiracy meetings and finances while Sudhakar and Sameer Kulkarni, the ATS says, were active foot soldiers of Abhinav Bharat who were paid a monthly sum of Rs 5,000 and were called ‘Chanakyas’.

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.