A report on bomb blast at the house of prominent RSS activist in Nanded, Maharashtra
— By Dr Suresh Khairnar, Ahmad Kadar and Arvind Ghosh,
Secular Citizen's Forum & PUCL, Nagpur
Bomb blasts at the house of a RSS activist at Nanded on 6th April 2006 was not reported in any newspaper outside Nanded. We in Nagpur came to know about the blasts through a Mumbai based anti-communal activist Ram Puniyani who phoned to inform us of the incident & suggested that a fact finding team should immediatly visit Nanded to find out the facts.
We, three activists of Dharma Nirapeksha Nagarik Manch, Nagpur, Dr Suresh Khairnar, convener (DNNM, Nagpur and PUCL, Nagpur), Ahmad Kadar & Arvind Ghosh proceeded to Nanded on 22nd April 2006 morning at 10am & reached Nanded the same evening at 6pm. We reached the spot of the bomb blast immediately on reaching Nanded.
The house is located in Patbandhare Nagar in Taroda Budruk Upanagar, a densely populated area of Nanded. It is a posh two storied house of approx 3000sq ft built up area, now locked from outside by the police since the day of the blast. The name of the house prominently written on the wall was: Sri Laxmi Nrisinha. The name of the house owner written on the nameplate was Laxmanrao Rajkondwar, ex- executive engineer at Irrigation department. The man is a known RSS activist in the city. Two huge paintings adorned the walls of his house, one that of Lord Ram, another that of Hanuman. A Bajrangdal flag was flying high on the top of the house.
The first question that comes to mind is why should anyone indulge in the secret & sinister activity of making bombs in such a prominent house which can be identified even from a distance as the house owned by a Sangh Parivar person? The only plausible explanation seems to be that the prominent house of a respectable person is a good cover for such activities. Son's business of selling crackers provided a double cover for manufacturing of bombs.
The neighbors we met were tight lipped & did not want to say much, except that on 6th April at about 1.30am they had woken up to an extremely loud noise and a powerful vibration under the impact of which their windows had opened automatically. When we asked the neighbor staying in the opposite house, how come he did not have even an inkling of the activities of his neighbor, he said you might stay opposite a neighbor for an entire life & yet may not know a thing about them. However he vouched that his neighbors were perfect gentlemen, religious & respectable people. He also told us that next to his house live a police constable who had reported about the blast to the nearby Bhagya Nagar police station.
Next we visited this police station at Bhagya Nagar, which is at a stone throwing distance from Rajkondwar's house. The Policemen however refused to co-operate with us saying that Srikant Mahajan, PI, who is dealing with the case is not available. He was not reachable through his mobile either. Those who were present at the police station refused to divulge any information regarding the incident.
From the police station we proceeded to the house of Rajaram Wattamwar who is a local working president of Rashtra Seva Dal,a retired professor with socialist background. The first question he asked us was what was the motive of our fact-finding team? He strongly felt that the innocents should not be implicated in the incident & he hoped that this was what had brought us to Nanded. Laxman Rajkondwar according to him is a good man, a very religious & respectable man. He had gone to Shirdi with his wife, daughter-in law & granddaughter when the incident happened in his home. It must have been an accident etc.
The views of Rajaram Wattaram's on the incident of bomb blast, who is also the president of an organization supposedly formed to expose Sangh Parivar shows the amount of communal bias among the Hindu community.
However he was good enough to provide us with the copies of the local newspapers of days immediately following the incident. He even helped us to contact the editors of some of the local newspapers. It is from theses newspapers as well as our visit to the office of Prajavani, a reputed local newspaper & interaction with its editor & the reporter dealing with the bomb blast incident that we could gather a fair amount of information about the bomb blasts.
On that fateful morning at 1.30am hearing the loud explosion & powerful vibration (which some mistakenly thought was an earthquake) people ran towards the house of Rajkondwar & saw smoke coming out of the house. The impact of the blast was so great that some of the doors & windows of the house had blown away to a distance of 50ft.Two boys were found dead on the spot & three were found seriously injured. One of the boys killed was Naresh Rajkondwar (age 29) the son of Laxman Rajkondwar the owner of the house. The second boy killed was Himansu Venkatesh Panse (age 31). Three persons seriously injured were 1) Yogesh Ravindra Deshpande (31), 2) Maruti Kishor Wagh (22) and 3) Gururaj Jayram Tupttewar (25). The sixth person who in spite of injury managed to escape was Rahul Pande. At first police & the press had declared that only 5 persons were present in the house at the time of the incident. It seems that after interrogation of the 3 injured persons they came to know about the escaped person Rahul Pande who managed to escape on a motorcycle, first to Umarkhed & then to Pusad for treatment of his injuries. He is reported to have told the doctors that he suffered the injuries due to a cylinder burst. He was later arrested from Pusad.
The story that was published in the next morning newspapers was that the blast occurred due to sudden bursting of crackers stored in the house as part of the family business. But doubts persisted, since if crackers catch fire there would normally be a series of bursts & not a single powerful blast as had happened in this case. Moreover the house did not catch fire as is expected in an accident involving crackers. The cracker theory was blasted on 7th April at 4pm when post mortem report was released. The report revealed that bomb parts were found and extracted from the bodies of the dead. The doubt that it must have been a bomb blast was further confirmed on the night of 7th April.
The police search of the house had continued the next day & it was at night that a live pipe bomb was discovered under a sofa along with bomb making materials. As per reports this bomb was taken to an open space out of the city & diffused with the help of an anti-bomb squad. "The blast was very powerful and only the concrete structure survived. Everything else in the house was destroyed. Both the bombs were powerful devices. The recovery of the second bomb and other preliminary investigations clearly show that people assembled in the house were preparing the bomb when the first one went off. We will know more about it only after we speak to the injured people," said a police official." It is also reported that after this discovery of the live bomb the houses of the injured in the bomb blast as well as some office bearers of RSS & Bajrang Dal were raided & some documents seized although police have not revealed any of these documents to the press or the public yet. It is also reported that the police has taken 4 people including Rahul Pande into custody. Himansu Panse is said to be the mastermind behind the whole project & Rahul Pande the technical expert.
A police investigating team has been formed under the leadership of Fhattsinh Patil, SP. Srikant Mahajan, Ramesh Bhurawar, Rajendra More, Gopinath Patil, Manikrao Perke & Wamane constitute other members of the team. A 'Bombshodhak &
Bombnashak pathak' has also been formed which has been deputed to search live bombs & diffuse them. It has been reported that the workings of some of the Hindutwavadi organizations in the city are being investigated. Suryapratap Gupta IG, Nanded has confirmed that a live pipe bomb was found at the house of Laxman Rajkondwar and that all the accused are connected with Bajrang Dal. He has also gone on record saying Rajkondwar's house was a center for manufacturing of bombs. However the police has maintained silence on the motive for the manufacturing of bombs at Rajkondwar's house, wherefrom they acquired the material for making the bombs and if the perpetrators of the crime had nationwide connections.
Whereas one of the accused Rahul Pande is reported to have disclosed that the accident occurred due to a mistake in setting timings to the bomb, the police is yet to confirm officially if they were indeed engaged in the making of a bomb when it exploded. FIR has been lodged about unlawful and careless storage of crackers in a residential house against Laxman Rajkondwar, the owner of the house. However the most worrying fact that has been revealed is that the live bomb discovered under the sofa is an I.E.D type sophisticated bomb with timer & operated through remote control. A supplier of chemical material to colleges has been questioned in this regard. It is also reported the accused had been arrested during the Ayodhya Ram Mandir episode.
The police after the initial revelation is now keeping mum over the incident & have not revealed much even to the local press. They have instructed the press not to write much about the incident since that would affect the course of police investigation. This is perhaps the reason why practically nothing has appeared in the local newspapers after the first two days of the incident. No local paper has yet written editorial comments upon it. The local BJP MP Mr D.B Patil has given warning to the police not to harass activists of Sangh Parivar over the incident. Local Shiv Sena MLA Anusuatai Khedekar has also issued a similar warning. Bivagiya Sanghachalak Shamrao Jagirdar released a press statement saying that the young men engaged in the bomb making activity at Rajkondewar's house were not connected with RSS. RSS does not believe in such activities & violence is against the ideology of RSS. He also assured the police of all assistance & co-operation but at the same time issued a warning against any atrocities on RSS activists during investigation.
State Bajrangdal chief Shankar Gaikwad said, "My local functionaries have told me that it was not a bomb explosion at all. Some crackers caught fire and resulted in the death of two and serious injuries to some others. But none of the dead was from the Bajrang Dal. State BJP spokesperson Vinod Tawde said: "We have heard nothing from the police so far. In any case, what does the Bajrang Dal's involvement in this, if at all, have to do with us? We are an independent political party with an independent political agenda."
To get a clearer picture of the incident of bomb blast at the house of a RSS man whose son & friends belonging to Bajrang Dal were engaged in bomb making, it would be necessary to give a brief description of the city of Nanded from the point of view of relations between different communities. Nanded is a city with a population of 8 lakhs out of which 1 lakh is Sikh. 2 lakhs Muslims, & the rest Hindus. It is a place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs due to it being the place of Samadhi of Guru Govind Singh. Nanded is in the region of Marathwada, which was part of the Nizam state before 1957 & hence has a history of Hindu-Muslim tension. Nanded since long is a communally sensitive district. It is agriculture based with very little industrialization & a lot of closed sugar mills. There is tension also between the Sikh & the Muslim communities. Recently there has been a case of elopement of a 17 year old Sikh Girl with a Muslim youth who also happened to be the brother of corporator Anwar Javed (NCP), as a result of which the two communities were in a mood of confrontation. The bomb blasts happened during these days of standoff between Sikhs & the Muslims. There is a rumor that is making its rounds in the city of Nanded that these people engaged in bomb making had plans to attack Muslim places of worship in the disguise of Sikhs & that turbans, beards & moustaches to be used during such intended attacks have been seized from the house of an accused.
However we have come to know from the police sources that police has seized maps of a few Mosques situated in nearby districts from the houses of the accused which give credence to the rumors.
This report remains inconclusive due to lack of availability of authentic information from the official sources, although there exist strong indications that deep communal conspiracies were being hatched by the Hindutwavadi forces in the city of Nanded. Implementation of these conspiracies have been temporarily aborted due to the accidental blast of a bomb while in the process of making, at the house of a prominent RSS activist of the city.