//Probe demanded into shootout at RSS headquarters

Probe demanded into shootout at RSS headquarters

New Delhi | June 18, 2006 3:15:01 PM IST

A group of human rights organisations have demanded a probe into the police shootout that killed three suspected terrorists who were apparently planning to attack the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in Nagpur June 1.

The three, suspected to be part of Lashkar-e-Taiba, were killed in a gun battle with police at dawn, minutes after they rammed through the rear barricade of the RSS headquarters, apparently with an intension to blow it up.

The rights organisations, however, doubt the police version of the event.

"The narrative of the whole encounter, instead of clearing the mystery of the attackers, confounded the citizens all the more. The reports were conflicting and left innumerable questions on the ground-zero situation unanswered," says the report of a fact-finding team.

The exercise, organised by the People's Union for Civil Liberties, Nagpur, and four other organisations, was led by B.G. Kolse Patil, former judge of the Mumbai High Court.

The report alleges that police had a rehearsal of the shootout on the same spot a few days before the incident. "The police even fired in air on the occasion, local residents say," it notes.

"When police had prior information about a possible attack on the RSS headquarters and they were prepared to handle it, why did they allow the attackers to go close to the headquarters?"

The report also points out that there is no eyewitness to the gun battle which took place at 4.15 a.m. "The bodies of the assailants were removed even before the press reporters, who were the first people other than police to reach the spot, arrived there at about 5 a.m.," it says.

Police maintained that when an ambassador car with a red beacon atop moved towards the RSS headquarters, one of the constables in a Tata Sumo vehicle "casually" asked the young occupants about their intentions. Immediately, the alleged militants opened fire on the police vehicle even as they tried to get away

"For the constable to ask casually, either he must have brought his car (the police vehicle) beside the terrorists' vehicle or come by foot close to it. How did the constable escape unhurt? The narration of the incident does not have any detail to clarify this," the report says.

That the terrorists battled for 20 minutes "hopelessly" not using any of their arms "is a narration that fails to convince common sense," it adds.

It also criticises authorities for declaring the terrorists as "Islamic" and Pakistan-based "fidayeen".

"The stated seizure of a diary containing all their names and telephone numbers sounds farce. Terrorists on a deadly mission carrying a diary with their own identities defies common sense." (IANS)