//Terrorism: Biased Investigation

Terrorism: Biased Investigation

By Ram Puniyani,11 March, 2007, Countercurrents.org

One more blast took place on 10th February 2007 in Nanded, city in the remote interiors of Mahrashtra, in the wee of hours of the morning. On the day next, the initial media reports did describe it as a blast. It took place in a biscuit shop, Amol Biscuits. It was a low key reporting in the media. In this blast one person, Pandurang Amilkanthwar, died instantly and another, Dyaneshwar Manikkwar, suffered 70% of burns and succumbed to his injuries on sixth day. In the initial statement, Manikwar said that it was an electric short-circuit. The next day he retracted his statement to say that he and Pandurang had deliberately put fire by using petrol to claim the insurance money as they were having financial problems.

Police and a section of media promptly accepted this version and stated that there was no political angle involved in the case, overlooking the fact that Pandurang was a Shiv Sena Shakha Pramukh, who was close to Bajrang Dal also. Just to recapitulate a year ago (April 6, 2006), in Nanded, in a blast two Bajrang Dal workers were killed while making a bomb. The police explained it as a burst of crackers. But the impact of the blast was too strong and the police version stood exposed. The blast shattered the windows in the surrounding area of over a Kilometer. The house search revealed the powerful bomb, with timer and remote control, after which the Inspector General of police conceded that it was a bomb blast and that those involved in the blast are the members of Bajrang Dal. Local papers reported that a diary has been found at the spot, which has the details of bomb making techniques and other relevant information. The local BJP MP stated that it was a minor incident. Meanwhile all the top leadership of RSS, VHP visited the hospital to see the injured and mourn the dead.

The police did arrest some fourteen people, who were close associates of the one's who died. But they were all released, as the charges under which they were arrested related to minor offense only. Also the police/state pleader had no objections if the bail was granted to the arrested ones. The Bajrang Dal chief and other activists of the dal were left untouched despite the correlation of blasts with this RSS affiliate. Anti Terrorist Squad Inspector General K.P.Raghuvanshi stated that the explosives and other weapons seized on the spot indicate that they were being trained in making bombs and operating firearms. They also started investigating the possible involvement of Bajrang Dal, a RSS affiliate, in a blast outside a mosque in Parbhani, two years ago.

One recalls that there were series of episodes and blasts in Maharashtra in Parbhani, Purna, Jalna, Mumbai and Malegaon. The most disturbing of these was the train blast in Mumbai, July 11 2006 and Malegaon September 8, 2006. The timing of blasts shows a clear pattern, barring in Mumbai, it was outside the mosques and in the afternoons. In the aftermath of Mumbai train blasts hundreds of Muslim youth were recklessly arrested in the Malvani area of Mumbai. In other places also many youth were put behind the bars on the slightest suspicion. This bias in police attitude was so blatant that in Malvani, the local people took the procession to the police station to get the innocent youth released. In Malegaon blast also, which took place on the day of Shab-e-Barat out side the Mosque near Bada kabristan, police acted on the ground that Muslim groups are involved in the process. Here also the arrests were mostly of those who had minority identity. Some of those with previous SIMI connection were the easy target. The local Muslim community was so disgusted with the attitude of the state and the police that it refused to accept the relief offered by the Chief Minister of the state under whose nose the biased attitude of police is clearly discernible. Interestingly in Malegaon police had been on high alert during the Ganapati festival, and dropped guards when it was Shab-e-Barat. The premise being that it is Muslims who create problem during Hindu festivals, else all is heavenly peace. The police had failed to take adequate precautions on a day prior to Shab-e-barat. They also expressed their frustration by boycotting the meeting called by minority commission and the panel which went to study the situation in the city.

The brain mapping and narco test of Nanded blast accused of 2006,  revealed that Nanded was acting as the Bomb Nirmiti Kendra (Center for Making Bombs), guided and supported by the state level VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders. The plan was to make explosions in front of mosques on Friday Afternoons around 2 PM, when the attendance in the mosques is maximum. Himanshu Panse the one who died while making a bomb is known to have stated that unless, Hindus do the blasts near Mosques, it will be perceived as if Hindus are Hijras. The blasts are the only way to stop the attacks like the one in Varanasi and Delhi.

Coming on the heels of this Malegaon episode, the explanation given for the current, 2007, Nanded incident was very puzzling. The Citizens Committee, which investigated the incident points out that the deceased changed his statement within hours. In the current event, a scooter parked on the side of the road at some distance got burnt, the presence of nails and blades, gas cylinder in the room remaining unaffected and some food items not catching fire, indicated that there is a possibility of blasts. The committee amongst others comprised of the retired High Court judge of Mahrashtra, Justice Kolse Patil and noted social worker, Teesta Setalvad. The committee with the help of on sight inspections, interviews and opinions of forensic experts concludes that it was not a short circuit fire. The available evidence leads it to opine that it might have been an explosion caused due to an accident during the preparation of liquid bomb. It might have been due to combination of liquid inflammable substances. Surprisingly similar techniques have also been used in causing the blast in Samjhauta Express, in which most of those killed were poor Muslims.

One wonders what is happening to the investigations in such matters of serious concern. The contrast in the treatment of accused of two religious communities is glaringly obvious. We know the attitude and high handedness of state and police authorities in dealing with Mumbai and Malegaon blasts, one has seen the ?promptness? of the authorities in apprehending any body from the Muslim minority even on the slightest pretext and to keep such a person in the custody on one ground or other. There are too many gory tales about the lock up deaths and the type of treatment meted out to some of the accused. In the case, of Nanded blasts, the one of 2006 and the one of 2007, despite the narco test report and brain mapping the inaction shown by authorities concerned is totally baffling. The new police commissioner of Mumbai, Dhananjay Jadhav, has stated that tackling terrorism will be on the top of his priority list. What does he mean? Will he at least try to look at all the evidence in an impartial way to punish the guilty and protect the innocent? Will he break the shackles of prejudices binding the police force while dealing with the minorities? If that?s what he means, it is a welcome sign for the state riddled with so many acts of terror. There needs a turn around in the policy of the state government and police officials who have been taking a blind partisan view and attitude in the investigation of the events like this.

The conclusions reached by the committee, more so in the wake of earlier similar blast in Nanded, and the efforts to present sop stories to cover up the incidents point to the deeper conspiracy hatched by groups equally insane and fanatic
as the one?s belonging to Al Qaeda are. What is surprising is that the so called secular government of Maharashtra which got elected on the secular ground, on the ground that it will implement the Shrikrishna commission report which it never did of course, has been very biased in its policies as reflected in the investigations done in the cases of Mumbai and Malegaon blasts. It has failed to connect up the Nanded blasts of April 2006 and has treated these incidents with jaundiced vision. None of the functionaries of Bajarang Dal have been taken to task, and the parent organization of Bajrang Dal, RSS sits pretty. Its time Central government intervenes, and inquiry of all the terror incidents in Maharashtra is handed over to CBI or preferably to the committee headed by a judge of impeccable credentials. Are Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh listening?