PTI | November 21, 2008 | 15:30 IST
Throwing its weight behind the Malegaon blast accused, including sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a group of advocates in Sonepat have set up a 17-member lawyers committee to provide legal assistance to them.
The Hindu Unification Movement Legal and Welfare Association will provide legal assistance to the sadhvi and other accused, according to Bhupeshwar Dayal Gaur, a founder-member of the association.
He said the Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Maharashtra police, which is conducting a probe into the September 29 blast, has already collected information about the association and he, too, was interrogated in Delhi recently.
Dayal alleged that he was pressurised by the ATS officials to not provide any legal assistance to Pragya and other accused.
He said that the members of the association were committed to providing free legal assistance to any Hindu who was harassed by police and falsely implicated in the criminal cases.
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From: TCG Menon
Date: Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 12:26 PM
Subject: A Study of Newspaper Reports on the Malegaon Blasts.
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A study of newspaper reports on the Malegaon Bomb blast.
When ever there is a bomb blast, the Govt used to come out with a
theory of the ISI hand behind the blast. But in this particular
case it is directed to Hindu activists and the Indian Army. After
the Malegaon blast, many other bomb blasts took place in India. The
recent blasts in Assam are several times powerful and a number of
lives were lost. Recently two infiltrators had been shot dead by the
security personnel in Jammu & Kashmir. After searching their dead
bodies, it was revealed that they were from Kerala. The Kerala ATS
have arrested a number of persons recently in connection with the
above- reported incident The English TV news channels and the news
papers have not been giving any importance to these cases. The Kerala
ATS is not revealing any details and the media is also not interested
to publicize it. The Times Of India is using their news paper and TV
channel to spear- head the attack on Hindutva and publicize the day
to day 'progress' of the 'investigation' into the Malegaon bomb blast
case since the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.
The Sadhvi has been arrested as the motor cycle used for planting
the bomb is registered in her name. This has been found from the last
four digits (0303) of the frame number of the motor cycle. It is also
reported that the remaining numbers are not legible. It seems
somebody purposely tried to disfigure the number plate beyond
recognition. These are punched numbers and they can be wiped out
easily if anyone wants to do so. In most of the cases the illegibility
is due to rusting/corrosion. Perhaps a few numbers got disfigured
due to the impact of the blast . Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur has
clearly stated in her affidavit that she had sold her motor cycle to
one Sunil Joshi of MP, with proper records. Particular details of the
affidavit is given below:-
. "I say that in Surat during the course of my interrogation with Mr
Sawant, I mentioned to him that the LML Freedom two wheeler once owned
by me was subsequently sold to one Sunil Joshi of Madhya Pradesh way
back in October, 2004 and that Mr Joshi had paid me Rs 24,000/- for
the same. I had also signed the necessary TT Form for RTO transfer in
October, 2004 itself. I categorically asserted to Mr Sawant that since
October, 2004 I had no control over the vehicle or its movements and
There is a report published in Times of India dt Nov 5th, which is
"that Sunil Joshi to whom Sadhvi Pragya had given her LML Freedom
motor cycle that was subsequently used in the Malegaon blast, was
killed by suspected SIMI activist at Dewas in Madhya Pradesh in
December last year. The vehicle subsequently passed on to Ramji, who
used this it to trigger the attack in the weavers town last month."
ATS reported that Ramji is absconding. In that case, what about his
identity. Why is the ATS not publishing his photo or giving other
details of the person in the papers? Who gave the motor bike to him,
and when? Unless he is an imaginary figure, he will have a family,
relatives and friends. Since no such details have come out, in all
probability this Ramji is an imaginary character used to implicate
the arrested Army officers & Hindu spiritual leaders. It seems 'some
one' has seen the Sadhvi talking to Ramji. She was under illegal
detention, and then arrested and kept under police custody more than
13 days before producing her in the court As per the rule a woman
should not be arrested or kept under custody without women police. In
this case all rules have been violated.
In the case of Sister Abhaya murder case, recently CBI have arrested
two priests and a nun. After producing the accused before the Judicial
Magistrate and getting permission from the court they remanded them
for 14 days custody. The Court heard the argument of the Advocates
appearing for the accused. This did not happen in the Malegaon Blast
case, where Hindus were arrested and kept under illegal detention.
Why is it so? Is the Law different for Hindu accused persons?
I am quoting below what CBI said when the reporters asked many
questions. "Sharing the dias with DIG Kanthaswamy, SP Rajeevakshan and
DySP Nandakumar Nair, the joint director did not answer any queries
in detail or give details of the involvement of each of the accused in
Abhaya's killing. ""Wait for a month, we will give you all the
details," he repeated.
Whereas Mumbai ATS has been giving day to day report about Malegaon blast.
They are trying to implicate Lt Col Shri kant Purohit in all the
blasts which took place in this country, of which ATS have not got
any clue. First they told Lt Col Purohit got the RDX from Army. Army
is not a production unit to keep stock of RDX or any other
ingredients of the bomb.
"In Bengaluru, last week, the Army man categorically denied having
taken RDX from any source during his J&K stint. Questions in this
regard were repeated to him but each time he strongly denied that he
had any links to the RDX. He was cooperative and answered with
clarity, said sources.
Sources in the Army also said a Military Intelligence officer has no
access to explosives. "He is in mufti and his brief is to collect
intelligence on insurgency and anti-national activities. Also, the
Army does not use or store RDX," an official source said.
I am also furnishing below a few published reports -
" Purohit used to collect money for his activities and financial
transactions were through banks and hawala agencies. Police suspect
that some money was routed through Bangladesh, where Abhinav Bharat
sympathizers are active."
'Purohit fits into the description of bomb trainer.'
'The Maharastra police are now examining whether Lt Col Shrikant
Prasad Purohit arrested in connection with Malegaon blast was
involved in blasts in Parbhani, Jalna and Purna, as Sanjay Chaudhari
an accused in April 2006 Nanded blast case has referred to a person
called Mithun Chakravarthy. During narco- analysis test Chaudhari
said Chakravarthy who trained Nandel blast accused Himanshu
Vyankatesh Panse in bomb – making , had a beard, was tall and stoutly
built." The training programe was held in Shivagad in Pune , Purohit
's home town.
There are so many Army officers and others having beard, and are tall
and stout. If the ATS wanted to clarify this doubt, why did they not
conduct the identification parade before coming out with a story?
Their only aim is to damage the image of a patriotic Army officer.
Before coming out with such report they should have verified where he
was at the time of the bomb blast. Moreover, narco-analysis test is
not a valid proof in the court of law. ATS could not get any proof
after completing forensic test , psychological profile test and
polygraph test carried out on the Sadhvi and Purohit.
Despite the absence of any evidence to frame the accused, the ATS
told the press that Purohit is the master mind of Samjhauta Express
train blast. This was contradictory to the revelation from the
Forensic test that no RDX was used in the above bomb blast. When this
attempt also failed, ATS came up with a report that Purohit, has
arranged a revolver licence for his friend, Milind Datye from the
army quota with forged documents. The Pune ATS told the court they
received a complaint about this from Datye himself when he got
suspicion about the licence after Purohit's arrest in the blast.
Sudhakar Chaturvedi, national co-ordinator for Abhinav Bharat, was
arrested by the Matunga police on Nov 4 on charges of carrying an
illegal revolver and possessing a fake identity card of the Deolali
In brief what do we understand from these reports?
This is a conspiracy by unscrupulous, anti- national elements to
damage the image of the Hindu organizations and Indian Army, by
implicating Hindu spiritual leaders and Army officers. Otherwise why
has the ATS not done any further investigation on how the motor cycle
got into the hands of one Ramji before arresting Sadhvi Pragya?
There is every possibility the conspirators killed Sunil Joshi to
implicate Sadhvi Pragya. How come ATS is silent on the reason for
killing Sunil Joshi? For investigating the above details, Ramji's
presence is not required. Sadhvi Pragya is said to be a great orator
. She must be having so many devotees . There is no rule that Army
people cannot keep in touch with any spiritual leader. The arrested
Major Ramesh Upadhyay(retd) said that he was very much impressed with
Sadhvi Pragya's speech. When they failed to establish any link with
RDX used in explosion, they are implicating the Army officer with
forgery of the documents and also questioning the working of Army
establishments. The last two reports are clearly indicating this.
Some how the Govt wants keep alive the case till the next general
election to please the 'minorities'. The imposition of the Maharashtra
Control of Organized Crime Act(MCOCA)on the accused persons without
any solid evidence, is proof enough of the Govt's active participation
in this conspiracy, which seems to have the involvement of the ISI
Arrest demanded of ATS officers for human rights violation: VHP
VHP demands arrest of ATS officers for human rights violation
Express News Service Posted: Nov 19, 2008 at 0155 hrs
Ahmedabad, November 18 The Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Gujarat on Tuesday demanded the arrest of the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) officers interrogating Sadhvi Pragya Singh and eight other people in connection with the Malegaon blast, for “human rights violations.”
VHP General Secretary Praveen Togadia said in a statement that the ATS was torturing the sadhu-sadhvis and targeting Hindu religion. He also urged the judiciary to protect the human rights of all citizens.
The statement said that one of the Malegoan blast accused had told the Nasik court on November 17 that he was not allowed to meet either his lawyer or his family. Besides, the ATS was preventing three letters that he had written, to be sent out.
The statement added that Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur had told the court that she was tortured by the police.
Togadia threatened a nationwide stir if the Maharashtra government failed to address the human rights concerns of the accused.
NSA to brief Advani on Malegaon blast probe
21 Nov 2008, 0904 hrs IST, TIMES NEWS NETWORK & AGENCIES
NEW DELHI: Two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up BJP leader L K Advani in regard to his allegations about torture of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in the Malegaon blast case, National Security Advisor M K Naryanan will meet the BJP leader on Friday to discuss the ongoing ATS probe. ( Watch )
Intelligence Bureau Chief P C Haldar will also be present at the meeting, highly placed BJP sources said.
According to BJP sources, Advani forcefully took up the sadhvi's case on Tuesday when the PM called him up to offer to share details of the investigations into the Malegaon blast leading to the arrests of the sadhvi and Lt Colonel Shrikant Purohit.
"Have you gone through the affidavit filed by Pragya in the Nashik court where she has given details of how she was tortured and was kept in illegal detention for 16 days? I was outraged when I read the account and I am sure that you would feel the same," Advani is learnt to have told the PM.
The Leader of Opposition also strongly objected to the Malegaon case being called a case of Hindu terror.
"Before that, I had only objected to the expression `Hindu terror' for the Malegaon blast. My point was simple, we never used descriptions like Muslim terror or Sikh terror. Then why are we describing the Malegaon case as an act of Hindu terror," Advani is learnt to have told the PM, according to sources close to Advani.
Advani also used the conversation to rebut any suggestion that the BJP had reversed its stand on terrorism because of the "faith" of Malegaon suspects. "A terrorist is a terrorist. He has no religion. He is a criminal and should be treated as one," he told the PM.
Singh had called Advani just after he issued a strongly-worded statement attacking the "barbaric treatment" of the sadhvi by Maharashtra's anti-terrorism squad and against the backdrop BJP ratcheting up its protest against Malegaon arrests.
Singh had offered to send national security advisor M K Narayanan over to Advani to explain the details of the case, in what is seen as reflecting recognition on the government's part of the fallout that BJP's protests can have for the investigations into Malegaon and other suspected cases of `Hindu terror'.
Stavan Desai, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, November 21, 2008
First Published: 00:26 IST(21/11/2008)
Last Updated: 09:57 IST(21/11/2008)
Hindu terror targets RSS
Members of Hindu right-wing organisation Abhinav Bharat, accused of carrying out the Malegaon blast, plotted to kill senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders who they thought weren’t doing enough for Hindutva, show investigation reports accessed exclusively by Hindustan Times.
At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party has declared its support for the accused, who are being investigated by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), the probe report reveals a plan to kill RSS general secretary Mohan Bhagwat and senior leader Indraeesh, who manages the Rashtriya Muslim Manch, which attracts Muslims with a “nationalistic outlook”. The report is with the state Home Department, which has shared it with the Union Home Ministry and central intelligence agencies.
Data found on the laptop of Dayanand Pandey, alias Shankaracharya Sudhakar Dwivedi, who was arrested in Lucknow on November 12, verifies the report. Experts at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Kalina are examining the laptop.
The planned killings, the report said, were masterminded by S. Apte, a 70-year-old Pune-based RSS worker who was unhappy with the organisation’s functioning, along with Pandey, Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyay and a leading Delhi-based doctor identified only as ‘Dr Singh’.
The ATS found that Apte and Pandey, the son of a retired sub-inspector of the Uttar Pradesh police, approached Lieutenant-Colonel Prasad Purohit for help in executing the plan. Apte also paid him Rs 10 lakh, said the report.
Purohit introduced a close aide, whose identity HT has withheld so as not to hinder investigations, to Apte to assist him.
In August, when the group learnt that Bhagwat and Indraeesh would be visiting Pune, “Apte showed [Purohit’s aide] around the various spots [suitable for the killings] in Pune” and they zeroed in on a couple.
Investigations also showed that “[Pandey] had arranged for a weapon”, a 9 mm foreign-made pistol, which was delivered to one of his followers “in Faridabad” when he and Apte first hatched the plot.
The ATS is investigating Apte, who is currently in Pune.
Saffron unity: BJP, RSS, VHP join hands for elections
FOR OR AGAINST: It is still not clear if LK Advani is in favour of Sadhvi or not.
New Delhi: Adversity seems to have brought the squabbling cousins in the Parivar together. The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh is sharing dias with the rabble rousing sadhus and sants (priests).
In Panipat, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) also known as the Sangh made it clear that it will make allegations of ‘Hindu terror’ an election issue. The RSS is planning an Amarnath type agitation on the Malegaon blasts investigations and the BJP will be lending support to it.
“There is a strong undercurrent and we need to mobilize especially after the Malegaon episode,” says RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav.
But it is still not clear if the BJP united on its support to the movement. The party president Rajnath Singh has been the most vociferous and visible face in support of the Sadhvi while National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani for once seems to be playing second fiddle.
“If someone is not sharing the dias it doesn’t make him any less Hindu,’ says BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
But the NDA allies don’t seem to be following them. It is an open secret that some like the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Bharitya Janata Dal (BJD) don’t seem toeing the RSS line on this issue. They are restless and disassociating themselves from the campaign.
“Our main concern is the national agenda for governance and that is being followed by all in the NDA,” says BJP leader BJ Pande.
This open show of unity by the BJP, RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) especially before the elections is a big thumbs up for the saffron brigade. After all the Ram Janmabhoomi movement played a big role in the party's success in the 1990's, now what really needs to be seen is that how much of all this actually translates into votes in the impending elections.
NO SMALL DIFFERENCE
- Hindu vigilante versus jihadi terrorist
Mukul Kesavan (Kolkata, The Telegraph, 20 Nov. 2008)
After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s denunciation of the authorities at Jamia Millia Islamia University for their decision to extend legal aid to two students arrested for suspected involvement in terrorist conspiracy, it is good to see the party belatedly embrace that civilized republican principle, the presumption of innocence. The arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit for their alleged involvement in the explosions in Malegaon has, after some initial hesitation, spurred the party to affirm their innocence and offer the sadhvi the best legal representation available in the country. The anti-terrorist squad and its investigations of Thakur and Purohit for terrorist activity have been condemned by the spokespersons of the sangh parivar as politically motivated and unsound.
None of this is unreasonable. The accused are entitled to a fair trial and good lawyers are an indispensable part of due process; moreover, the tendency of the Indian police and its investigative agencies to feed newspapers and news channels with unreliable information and spurious breakthroughs in cases that are never resolved, leads to an understandable scepticism about their claims. The BJP is also right in taking exception to the term ‘Hindu terrorism’; even if Thakur and Purohit were to be found guilty, no connection between being Hindu and being terrorist would follow from their guilt. In the event of their conviction, the proper term for their activities would be ‘Hindutva-vaditerror’: to assimilate a large and law-abiding community to the violence of bigots would be unjust.
The BJP is also right in arguing that members of India’s armed forces should not be carelessly implicated by police agencies in something as serious as terrorism. Not because soldiers should be seen to be above the law or be privileged by it, but because the political neutrality of the army is a precious asset and charging an officer with political extremism is a serious business, not to be lightly undertaken. The Indian army is a curious institution, built on pluralist ideas that are colonial rather than republican in their provenance. But in times of sectarian violence, it is often summoned to establish order because unlike the police, it is seen as a secular, apolitical force. So if the BJP’s affirmation of Purohit’s innocence ensures a thorough investigation and a fair trial, the party will have done all Indians a favour.
Equally, L.K. Advani’s condemnation of the ‘narco’ tests administered to the sadhvi (and the colonel) is consistent with the long-held position of human rights activists that forcing suspects to endure potentially dangerous chemical injections to induce legally worthless confessions is both barbaric and illegal. ‘Brain mapping’ and ‘narco testing’ are good examples of the ways in which Indian policemen use pseudo-scientific gimcrackery as a substitute for real police work.
So on these issues, every Indian who believes in the rule of law should endorse the BJP’s criticism of the ATS. The sadhvi’s allegations that she was beaten and tortured in police custody should be taken seriously. Advani’s demand that Thakur and Purohit be investigated by a judicial probe, and not by the ATS, ought to be given fair consideration. The fact that the BJP and its allies were pleased with the rough ‘justice’ meted out to the two men shot by the police in the Batla House ‘encounter’ and subsequently wanted Jamia’s students left indefinitely in police custody, unaided by the university to which they were affiliated, doesn’t in itself invalidate the importance of human rights and due process.
The real difficulty with the sangh parivar’s defence of Pragya Singh Thakur and Shrikant Purohit lies in the reasons its spokespersons adduce for their innocence. Praveen Togadia, the chief of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, made the Hindutva-vadi case without qualifications: “No Hindu can be a terrorist,” he declared. Asked if he knew the sadhvi, he said, “I do not know Pragya Singh at all. But I know she is not a terrorist.” For Togadia, Thakur’s birth identity was all the evidence he needed to know that the allegations against her were false. He told The Hindu as much: “Hindus will not forget this. They [the police and the Congress] are committing the sin of describing a Hindu, a ‘sadhvi’, as a terrorist… I warn that there will be a political backlash and the government will be swept out.”
Chandan Mitra, MP and editor of The Pioneer, made the same point more circumspectly. “Let the courts pronounce the ‘Hindu terrorists’ guilty,” he wrote in the Economic Times, “and, if so, let the verdicts be executed. But they cannot be pilloried on the basis of specious ‘confessions’, which could well be figments of a beleaguered ATS’s shaky imagination.” Aware that this might seem inconsistent with the sangh parivar’s enthusiasm for pillorying Muslims accused of terrorist conspiracy by anti-terrorist squads elsewhere, Mitra argued that Muslims accused of terrorism were a different matter. Muslims had form in the matter of terrorist conspiracy whereas Hindus didn’t. “Many SIMI and other jihadi terror mongers have already been brought to book and are being tried in courts. The most celebrated of the lot, Afzal Guru, has been found guilty by the Supreme Court and sentenced to death.”
One SIMI member, Yasin Patel, has been successfully prosecuted under a terrorism law. Three others were recently jailed for a year, not for terrorism but for stoking communal hatred. Even if there were to be a string of successful terror prosecutions against the SIMI, are we to understand that Mitra would have the police and the public withhold the presumption of innocence from Muslims in cases of terrorist conspiracy?
This is rather like arguing that once Hindus are convicted of terrorizing and murdering Muslims during the Gujarat pogroms, or slaughtering Sikhs in the Delhi pogrom of 1984, any Hindu accused of communal killing afterwards can be legitimately treated as guilty unless proven innocent, whereas Muslims and Sikhs charged with communal violence ought to continue to be given the benefit of the doubt.
In essence, there is no difference between Mitra’s position and Togadia’s. They both believe that Hindu violence can’t be described as terror because Hindus are victims. Victims can’t be perpetrators. So even if the ATS case against Thakur and Purohit is successfully prosecuted, even if they are guilty of organizing the explosions in Malegaon, they aren’t terrorists because all they’re doing is retaliating against jihadi violence. “Even if for a moment we accept that some Hindus have indulged in copycat acts,” writes Mitra, “it must be borne in mind that the majority of Indians are shocked, outraged, angry and even vengeful because of relentless terrorist depredations. Nearly 10,000 innocent people have died at the hands of bloodthirsty jihadi terrorists over the past 15 years.
“If some people, howsoever misguided, attempt to avenge this because the state fails to provide security or succour should it come as a big surprise? This is not to justify vigilante action, but only try and explain it.”
I’m not sure what form of words would constitute a watertight justification of vigilantism, but that last paragraph comes close. Then, in a remarkable move, Mitra holds out ‘Hindu’ involvement in the Malegaon blasts as a sinister portent: “If the state does not shed its hypocrisy the alleged Malegaon plot may only be the beginning.” So from the illegitimacy of the notion of “Hindu terror” we’ve arrived at the prospect of continuous ‘Hindu’ violence if the State dares to apply to Hindus the police methods it routinely uses against Muslims.
The difference between Indians who respect the republic’s Constitution and the majoritarian Right is this: constitutional democrats speak out against the police treatment of the sadhvi and the colonel because, as citizens of this republic, this nation of laws, they deserve every protection the law has to offer. The sangh parivar demands these protections because Thakur and Purohit are Hindu. This is not a small difference: it’s the difference between a civilized nation and a sectarian country, the difference, if you like, between India and Pakistan.