Posted by: informer | November 29, 2008

NANDED BLAST RECAP: THE HINDU HAND [2003 – 2006]

Narco-analysis and brain-mapping reports of the accused and the Maharashtra Police ATS’s findings on the Nanded blast add up to reveal an alarming trend: local Sangh Parivar members are raising their own terror networks.
Shashwat Gupta Ray
reports

Perpetrator becomes victim: The bodies of the bomb-makers after the accidental explosion
Photo by Mohammad Sadiq
All the blasts in central Maharashtra occurred between 1.45 and 2pm at the towns’ most prominent mosques, just after the Friday prayers, when the attendance is maximum

‘Bomb attacks outside mosques are the only way of safeguarding Hindutva’
HIMANSHU PANSE
Nanded blast accused

‘A Bajrang Dal leader called me asking me not to be scared. He promised to get me out of jail at the earliest’
SANJAY, ALIAS BHAURAO CHOUDHARI
Parbhani and Nanded blasts accused

‘We will be treated like hijras if we don’t take action. Counter-attacks are the only way of avenging terror attacks’
HIMANSHU PANSE

Individuals associated with Hindutva outfits like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal are developing terror networks in north Maharashtra targeting the region’s Muslim population. This has been revealed by the accused in the Nanded blast, which occurred on April 6, during their narco-analysis and brain-mapping tests.

The narco-analysis and brain-mapping reports, which are with Tehelka, reveal that the accused were being aided by state-level VHP and Bajrang Dal officials to execute bomb blasts at mosques in Parbhani, Jalna and Purna in central Maharashtra. The bomb which accidentally went off in the house of an RSS member in Nanded, killing two, had been prepared to go off at a mosque near the railway station in Aurangabad after the Friday prayers there.

The blast occurred very early on the morning of April 6 in Nanded, at the residence of a retired irrigation department engineer and RSS worker, Lakshman Rajkondawar. It killed his son Naresh Lakshman Rajkondawar, and one Himanshu Venkatesh Panse. Three others, Yogesh Ravindra Deshpande Vidholkar, Maroti Kishore Wagh and Gururaj Jayaram Tuptewar, were seriously injured. Another injured, Rahul Manoharao Pande, managed to flee from the scene of the explosion, but was arrested later. Tuptewar was a young farmer from Brahmagalli in Nanded and Vidholkar a first-year law student.

The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Madivala, Bangalore, performed a narco-analysis (Report Number: No/FSL/4876/FPS/187/2006) on one Sanjay alias Bhaurao Vithalrao Choudhari, who is an accused in the Parbhani and the Jalna blasts. Sanjay was a graduate and operated a gymnasium in partnership with Rahul Manoharao Pande in Nanded. According to the analysis report, dated July 19, 2006, Sanjay operated with Himanshu Panse and three others — Maroti Keshav Wagh, Rahul Manoharao Pande and Yogesh Ravindra Widulkar. All four were trained in bomb making at the Akash Resort at Sinhagad, Pune, in 2003. Pande’s brothers stayed near Sinhagad and he frequently visited them.

According to the report, Panse’s motive was to avenge the deaths of Hindus killed in terror attacks. Panse was convinced that the mastermind behind these attacks were underworld dons Abu Salem and Dawood Ibrahim.

Sanjay’s narco-analysis report confirms that the accused were aided by Nanded-based VHP leader Govind Puranik, and by Abhay Madhukar and Atul Vinodrao Kamtekar from Aurangabad, both members of the RSS and the Bajrang Dal

The report says that Panse was “pained” by the terrorist attacks in Delhi and Varanasi. He felt that Hindus would be “treated as hijras” if they failed to take any action.

Feeling that retaliation was necessary to uphold Hindu honour, Panse decided after the Varanasi blasts to engineer explosions in Muslim-dominated areas in central Maharashtra with the target of killing at least 300-400 Muslims in each incident.

A closer look at all the recent blasts that have occurred in central Maharashtra reveal a pattern which seems to fit with Panse’s plan. All blasts (including the ones in Malegaon on September 8) occurred between 1.45pm and 2.00pm at the most prominent mosque in these towns, just after the Friday prayers, when attendance is maximum.

The Parbhani blast occurred at Mohammadiya Masjid, Rehmat Nagar, on Friday, November 21, 2003. The main accused in this case are Sanjay, Panse, Wagh and Widulkar. The blast in Purna, in district Parbhani, occurred on Friday, August 27, 2004 at the Meraj-ul-Uloom Madarsa and Masjid, Siddharth Nagar. The main accused are Sanjay and Tuptewar.

The Jalna blast was triggered on Friday, August 27, 2004 at the Quadriya Masjid, Sadar Bazar. Wagh is the only accused in this case. The bomb that exploded in Nanded was supposed to explode at the Aurangabad mosque on Friday, April 7, and all the above accused were involved in planning that blast. The Malegaon blasts also occurred on a Friday — September 8, 2006.

Sanjay’s narco-analysis report states that Panse was receiving orders on his mobile phone from his superiors and that he had a separate sim card for receiving the orders. Sanjay revealed that he too received a call from a local Bajrang Dal leader, Balaji Pakharia, who lives in Bajrang Nagar in Nanded.

Pakharia told Sanjay not to be afraid and assured him that if he were to get arrested, he would get him released from jail at the earliest.

The report of the brain-mapping test (Report Number: No/FSL/4371/FPS/187/2006) conducted on Rahul Manoharao Pande at the FSL corroborates many statements in Sanjay’s narco-analysis report. Pande said that all the suspects present at Rajkondawar’s house at the time of the explosion were his friends and Panse was the group leader.

Sanjay revealed that all the recent blasts in the Marathwada region in central Maharashtra — at Jalna, Purna and Parbhani — had been planned by Panse, and that he had gone with Panse to Jalna to engineer the blast there. The report says that the accused were supported by Nanded-based VHP leader Govind Puranik, and by Abhay Madhukar and Atul Vinodrao Kamtekar from Aurangabad, who are members of the RSS and the Bajrang Dal. The three had given Tuptewar around Rs 45,000-50,000 to trigger the blasts. Sanjay also revealed that VHP leader Praveen Togadia had once visited them (the report doesn’t specify where) and delivered a speech.

Nanded remains: The debris at the blast site
Photo by Sachin Donglikar
ACP Tamaychekar’s report spells out the Parivar connection: ‘Influenced by the ideologies of the Sangh, the accused used Hindu festivals to propagate anti-Muslim ideologies’

Sanjay revealed that the four accused underwent training to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs) under one Mithun Chakraborty in Pune. He was the one who taught them how to make pipe bombs, in which a water pipe coupling (similar to the one found at the site of the Nanded blast) is cut open and filled with explosives mixed with iron pieces and thrown at the target. They were also taught to make thread bombs and timer bombs. Sanjay described Chakraborty as tall, well-built and sporting a beard. Panse used to refer to him as “sir” and after their training was complete, he gave him a bag containing explosives at the Pune railway station.

The police got the first hint of the involvement of Govind Puranik, Abhay Madhukar and Atul Kamtekar, when these three visited the injured in the hospital, the day after the blast. When an injured Pande was arrested at Pusad, 180 km from Nanded, he named these three. Soon afterwards, they were nabbed by the police and turned approvers. On June 2, they were presented by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra Police before the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) and deposed before the court. The confessions made by them tallied with Sanjay’s narco-analysis and Pande’s brain-mapping reports.

According to the report filed before the CJM by Anil J. Tamaychekar, ACP, ATS Maharashtra, the police suspected the role of the three Sangh Parivar members in the bomb blasts as the diary of one of the suspects, Wagh, contained their details. The police had also recovered a photo album, an RSS diary, a cultural newsletter and various documents pertaining to the Sangh Parivar from Panse’s house. The photos were taken when Panse visited Aurangabad in 2004 and included photos of the mosque from all sides. The police also recovered a map — in which the Aurangabad mosque was clearly marked — and a fake beard from Panse’s house.

ACP Tamaychekar’s report clearly spells out the accused’s Parivar connection. “Influenced by the radical ideologies of the Sangh, Himanshu along with Manohar Pande started a gymnasium called Power, with sole purpose of attracting Hindu youth and persuading them to join their movement against Muslims. Soon afterwards, Himanshu and Wagh opened a Sangh branch in Nanded’s Bajrang Nagar. Another accused, Yogesh, started an orphanage under the banner of the RSS. These accused used Hindu festivals like Gudi Padwa (the Marathi New Year), Vijaya Dashami, Ganeshotsav and Ram Navami amongst others to propagate anti-Muslim ideologies. They cited instances like the killing of cows for meat and terror attacks on Hindu temples such as Vaishno Devi and Akshardham to drive home their point of view,” the report states.

Soon after the accused received training in handling IEDs from Chakraborty, Panse moved to Goa where he trained with the VHP and Bajrang Dal for two years. Then he, along with co-accused Wagh, trained at the Bhonsla Military School in Nagpur for 40 days. He returned to Pune in 2003 and executed a bomb blast at the Gosiya Masjid in Parbhani.

After the April 6 Nanded blast, the survivors claimed that firecrackers caused it. “They were aware of the danger involved and thus had this firecracker theory ready, which was evident from the fact that the accused had illegally stockpiled a large quantity of firecrackers. They had prepared two IEDs from the explosives at their disposal, which were to be used for terrorist activities to inflict maximum casualty,” the ACP said in the report.

According to the police report, on April 5, Rajkondawar called up Kamtikar on mobile number 9822297494 and told him that Wagh would be coming to Aurangabad by High Court Express. He told Kamtikar to keep a motorcycle ready for him. Following this conversation, Kamtikar left a motorcycle with one Suresh Kadam.

Then at around 12.15am on April 6, Rajkondawar called Kamtikar and told him that Wagh would not be reaching Aurangabad that day, but would certainly get there the next day and that the motorcycle was to be kept ready. The report says that this is definite proof that the accused planned to engineer a blast at some mosque.

But the bomb exploded while it was being assembled. Some sources suspect that the timer of the bomb might have mistakenly been set for 1.50am instead of 1.50pm.

The ATS report also says that during the panchanama, the police found 10 live 7.65 mm bullets at the blast site and one live 7.65 mm bullet at Panse’s house. These bullets are used in rifles.

But despite all the available evidence, the accused are being treated leniently. “The local police initially made contradictory statements in which they first said that the explosion was due to firecrackers, and then changed the statement and said that it was due to a live bomb. No arrests were made in the initial stages. Soon after the blast, a fire engine was rushed to the house and began spraying water inside. This was done even though there was no fire as such. A lot of crucial circumstantial evidence were washed away,” says Altaf Ahmed, who belongs to the Nanded Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM).

Discouraged by local police’s handling of the case, the MIM appealed to higher authorities. Seven MIM members filed two criminal writ petitions demanding a CBI inquiry into the incident. The government then handed over the investigations to the ATS, which arrested as many as 21 people. It sought the District Magistrate’s permission to submit a chargesheet against these accused on July 29.

“Surprisingly, the ATS has withdrawn the case under Section 69 of the crpc against 11 of the accused just two weeks after it sought permission to file the chargesheet against 21 accused, citing lack of evidence against them. Now the role of the ATS is also doubtful,” Altaf says. He points out that material evidence during investigations was recovered from the 11 whom the ATS now wants to set free.

Questioning the ATS’s motives, Altaf says that in spite of clearly stating that the accused were history-sheeters involved in terrorist activities, it booked them under sections which enabled them to be set free easily. They could have been booked under the more stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act and National Security Act, he points out. In despair Altaf and others approached the Prime Minister’s Office which then issued directions to the Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra government. But this has made no difference on the ground.

RR Patil, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, has announced that investigations into the Malegaon blasts and the Marathwada blasts case, including the Nanded explosion, would be handed over to the CBI, but Altaf is not very hopeful.

As it is, responding to a writ petition filed by Marathwada MIM president Saleem Ahmed before the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, the CBI has expressed its inability to conduct the inquiry into the blasts in an affidavit.

“The CBI is already overburdened and has limited hands to deal with such cases if entrusted by this honourable court,” Surinder Paul, Superintendent of Police, CBI, Special Crime Branch, Navi Mumbai said in the affidavit.

Incensed by the CBI’s approach, Altaf says, “The point raised by the CBI that it is overburdened and has limited hands to deal with such case is most irrelevant. And this cannot be a valid ground to discard the relief to the petitioners for investigating the case through the CBI. Also, the bench was yet to declare its verdict regarding handing over the investigations to the CBI; it was not a party in this case. Yet, they submitted the affidavit before the court. Filing such a suo motu affidavit without notice of the High Court is also highly objectionable in a pending judicial proceeding. This shows nothing but an effort to support the tardy investigation being conducted by the state police and ATS.”

Many in Malegaon are now contrasting the fate of those arrested in the blasts in their town with those arrested in the Nanded blasts case. They say that authorities have failed to nail the accused in Nanded despite plenty of evidence being available against them, whereas the fate of those arrested in the Malegaon blast case is anyone’s guess although there is hardly any evidence against them.

The Nanded explosion has exposed the phenomenon of tit-for-tat terrorism in the name of religion. The self-proclaimed “custodians of Hindutva” could be part of an ominous trend of violence against Muslims, which could assume frightening proportions.

Dec 30 , 2006
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