The cutting Ed: Chandan Mitra
Ab Tak Chhappan! The title of this Ram Gopal Varma film easily comes to mind observing the manner in which the Maharashtra ATS is going about picking up people all over India and slapping them into the cooler on a daily basis, ostensibly in a bid to unearth dimensions of “Hindu terror”.
We have lost count of the number of persons interrogated, sent on police or judicial remand, their brains penetrated with narcotic substances to induce confession to their “crimes”. But not a day has passed, since Sadhvi Pragya was nabbed some 25 days ago, without somebody or the other being arrested, allegedly in connection with a fantastic plot conjured up by the Maharashtra Police.
Those arrested included serving and retired Army officers, school and college teachers, political activists and now even a resourceful sadhu. Every evening at the news meeting in our office, the first question asked is, “What’s the score today? Ab tak …?”
Buoyed by enthusiastic endorsement from the “secular” media, which is gleefully eating out of the ATS’ hands, the so-called Hindu terror plot keeps assuming an ever-growing magnitude. Not content with pinning the blame for the minor bomb blasts in Malegaon and Modasa, then Nanded and later Kanpur, the ATS’ ambitions have increased manifold. Currently, it is busy trying to implicate the same group in the 2006 Samjhauta Express blasts. Curiously, SIMI commander Safdar Nagori’s narco tests have resulted in a confession that his organisation executed the Samjhauta bombings. Does this mean that so-called Hindu terrorists have been synchronising their moves with SIMI? Or, maybe ATS will tomorrow come up with a theory that “Hindu terrorists” have been funding and masterminding the actions of jihadis who innocently fell into the Hindu trap in the lure of money. Far fetched? Not really, if you consider the gigantic yarns being spun around the purported confessions of the detained suspects.
Interestingly, in the last seven days, contradictory “leaks” have been planted on the handpicked media about the responses of detained suspects. A particularly hilarious story front-paged by a leading national daily claimed that the narco-analysis of Sadhvi Pragya came to a naught because she meditates daily! Apparently, those who are ardent practitioners of that spiritual art become immune to narco tests because their mental powers are strong enough to resist drug-induced coercion aimed at extracting confessions.
Moral of the story: All criminals ought to mediate, for then narco-tests shall fail and they go scot-free!
By the way, it would be interesting to know if the servants arrested in the Arushi Talwar murder case were also trained in the art of meditation. Must be, for the CBI failed to get any information out of them and finally they had to be released. Similarly, Lt Col. Srikant Purohit, too, foiled the investigators’ desperate attempts to cajole him into confessing his crime because, we are told, as an Armyman, he was trained to absorb stress and no amount of drugs got him to talk. Halted on their tracks, the ATS then leaked purported details of Purohit’s confessions, which were eagerly lapped up by sections of the media to further their campaign to equate “Hindu” with jihadi terror.
Following the arrest of Swami Amritanand aka Dayanand Pandey or Sudhakar Dwivedi, we were treated to details of his past, website photos, his ashrams, connections with top national personalities, ex-President APJ Abdul Kalam downwards. But what we never got to know was his role in the Malegaon blasts. Within hours of his arrest, the Haryana Railway Police swooped down on him apparently to discover his link to the Samjhauta Express blasts, which self-confessedly, SIMI had carried out. Without a shred of evidence to that effect, he has already been awarded the epithet of “Terror Guru”.
In the same way, the highly respected Bhonsala Military School has been dubbed a terror factory – a term used hitherto for Talibanised madrasas. Merely because some members of a little known outfit called Abhinav Bharat, an adjunct of the largely defunct Hindu Mahasabha, visited the premises of the school, its custodians were hounded to the point of putting in their papers.
Judging by the hype accompanying the “Hindu terror” revelations, it would appear that nothing else is happening in this country for the last month or so. With every passing day, the ATS’ concoctions get more incredible, the scale of “leaked” stories magnified and the media’s tone becomes predictably shriller. All this before any of the arrested persons is formally charged or given an opportunity to defend themselves. Wasn’t it the Congress that kept cautioning us against trial by media? Wasn’t it Manmohan Singh who plaintively lamented that everything in this country gets politicised? But when a trial by the media is actually sponsored by the Government and agencies under its control, like the Maharashtra ATS, nobody sees anything wrong with it.
That, in the process, even the Army is being hauled over the coals and its exalted status sullied beyond repair is of no consequence. Clearly, the Government thinks tarnishing the Army serves its short-term agenda: Putting BJP on the backfoot. Nothing is too sacrosanct to achieve that aim in an election year. In the face of mounting public anger against the UPA’s all-round failure, especially its vote-bank politics over terrorism, the Government desperately needed a face-saver. So, they decided to construct an elaborate theory of all-pervasive Hindu terror hoping to convince the electorate that the Hindutva forces are the real fountainhead of all terrorist activities. It is a matter of time before it is volubly argued by “secular” politicians and their media cheerleaders that jihadi terror is nothing but an act of self-defence in the face of rampant “Hindu terrorist” provocation.
With investigating agencies dragging their feet (could it be under orders from above?), failing to convict any terror accused so far, this is a clever ploy to divert attention from the real danger jihadi terror poses to India. Determined to thwart efforts by BJP-ruled States to introduce tough anti-terror laws, the Government has directed the President to return Narendra Modi’s proposed GUJCOC, drafted on the lines of MCOCA, which is operational in UPA-ruled Maharashtra. And the Centre is equally determined not to execute Afzal Guru despite the Supreme Court sentencing him to death several years back. Incidentally, Muslim-majority Indonesia has fewer qualms: It executed three Islamic radicals last week, soon after they were convicted for the Bali bombings.
But our Government is focused on damning Hindu organisations by a sustained campaign of calumny. I wonder if the Maharashtra ATS will soon “unearth” global linkages of Hindu terror and accuse some sadhvi, swami or an Army officer of having plotted 9/11 too!
What the Congress-led Government is failing to recognise is that public anger against a regime increasingly seen as decidedly anti-Hindu, is rising. In the process, the Congress may actually be helping to create a Hindu vote for the first time in India’s history. Pyromaniacs often end up being consumed by the very fire they light.
There are seasons when the media’s perception of national priorities bear little relation to the average middle-class (I cannot presume to speak for the much-invoked aam aadmi) concerns. My own impression is that there is one overriding preoccupation: The economic downturn and the threat of recession. The insecurity fuelled by jihadi terror comes second.
The media perception is markedly different. Its main focus is on the Mumbai ATS’ sensational unearthing of a “Hindu terror” conspiracy. The Delhi edition of The Times of India on Saturday, for example, had 10 reports on the subject and another three on the miscarriage of justice in cases involving alleged jihadi terrorists.
To be fair to the media, the emerging story is riveting. To begin with there was the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, the owner of a motorcycle which was used to plant bombs in Malegaon on September 29. The dashing sadhvi was believed to be the “mastermind”. The plot then came to embrace the Army and led to the arrest of Lt-Colonel Shrikant Purohit of the Military Intelligence. The shock of a serving Army officer being the real “mastermind” of the terror plot was profound. But even before this was fully digested, came the further revelation that a self-anointed shankaracharya Dayanand Pandey, alias Sudhakar Dwivedi, with a penchant for changing mobile phone numbers was the real divine inspiration behind Purohit. In other words, he was this week’s Mogambo. There is a suspicion that next week’s “mastermind” may well turn out to be the person who was all along the intended target — a senior RSS functionary whose responsibilities included J&K.
If all goes according to plan, this is a story that will run till the last round of voting for the Lok Sabha election. It is not merely the colourful conspirators that are of interest. Equally enthralling is the plot that the ATS has supposedly unearthed through extensive drugging and narco-analysis.
It would seem that a group of extreme Hindu nationalists, exasperated by the Government’s failure to control jihadi terror decided that the Muslims must get a taste of their own medicine. The inspirational shankaracharya supposedly requisitioned the services of the like-minded Purohit who he had got to know during his own missions in J&K. Using the Military Intelligence network and, may be, funds, he contacted jihadi groups to persuade them to engage in friendly fire, i.e. bomb their own community. This filmi plot did not succeed and Purohit had to settle for buying RDX from the “enemy”. With the assistance of a retired Territorial Army officer, a collector of antique arms and, of course, Pragya’s bike, the group killed six innocent Muslims in Malegaon.
The ATS now believes the group could have also triggered earlier blasts in Nanded, Kanpur, the first Malegaon blasts in 2006 and even the Samjhauta Express bombing. The net is being cast far and wide. The official spokesman of the Congress has even gone to the extent of suggesting that even the other bombings were outsourced by the RSS to the SIMI and Indian Mujahideen! It would also not be surprising if in the coming weeks some bright secular spark or ridiculous tabloid comes to the startling conclusion that the D-company is actually a covert RSS cell.
Before there is a formal request to the Obama Administration to reopen the 9/11 inquiries in the light of the Mumbai ATS unofficial disclosures to the media, it is pertinent to note a few features of the Hindu terrorist case. First, in its submission to the courts, the Mumbai ATS has pointed to 18 traces of RDX in Malegaon. Yet, it is curious that the Central forensic teams that were despatched to the spot immediately found no RDX. Obviously, both can’t be right.
Second, is it the normal custom of authorities to arrest anyone who has been remotely associated or had telephone links with the accused, subject them to narco-tests casually and then rush to the media? When nothing incriminating is unearthed, it is attributed to yogic skills. In most countries narco-tests are sparingly used to fill in missing links (usually the search for the murder weapon) after the bulk of the investigations are complete. In this investigation, it has become the first act of an otherwise clueless ATS.
Second, in its internal inquiry submitted to the Defence Ministry submitted some 10 days ago, the Army ruled out the involvement of any other officers. It has also refrained from dismissing Purohit from service — a revealing piece of non-action.
The implications of what the ATS has leaked to the media about the role of the Army are horrifying. It suggests that senior MI operatives have no wider accountability and are routinely engaged in clandestine activities with known jihadis. If Purohit had the ability to mount operations without instructions and without the knowledge of his superior officers, it suggests that the emergence of a rogue force like Pakistan’s ISI cannot be entirely discounted in India. Does the ATS and its political mentors in the UPA have any idea of what they are casually implying? Are the media stenographers who are faithfully reproducing every unattributable briefing aware of the long-term costs of trying to establish a moral equivalence between jihadi terror and Hindu terror?
Beleaguered Governments have made a habit of trying to bolster their electoral prospects through dirty tricks. In 1989, there was the elaborate attempt to discredit V P Singh through the discovery of fictitious accounts in St Kitts. Both the agencies and senior journalists were part of the plot. In 1996, there was the Jain hawala case which neither secured convictions nor won the Congress the election. Let us see how far the invocation of Hindu terror takes those who can’t bear the idea of being out of power. Meanwhile, the jihadis are sitting pretty, plotting their next move.
This is a comment made by Smt. Sampoorna Satya.
Here’s the comment on Smt. Meenakshi Rao’s article in the Pioneer. Smt. Sampoorna Satya suggests: [quote] Lets please have the whole truth…May we also have some narco tests on to ascertain her relationship with terrorism in Kashmir. And how about some narco tests on Amar Singh, Mulayam Singh, Lallu Yadav, Imam Bukhari, the chancellor of Jamia and Shivraj Patil to determine if they have knowingly acted in ways to protect terrorists, or block the investigation against any terrorist. And some narco tests on Ms Maino to determine if she may be working as a foreign agent and against the constitution of our country. [unquote]
Can we please nail the truth?http://dailypioneer .com/134640/ Can-we-please- nail-the- truth.html
The Hindu Rate Of Wrath
When the Mahatma’s ‘cowards’ erupt in fury, it hurts. But, it isn’t terror.
Is there such a thing as ‘Hindu terrorism’, as the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for the recent Malegaon blasts may tend to prove? Well, I guess I was asked to write this column because I am one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents— a lover of South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneva and Le Figaro).
In the early 1980s, when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on Kalaripayattu, the Ayappa festival, or the Ayyanars, I slowly realized that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, in the behind Hinduism.. The average Hindu you meet in a million villages possesses this simple, innate spirituality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab, French or Chinese. It is this Hinduness that makes the Indian Christian different from, say, a French Christian, or the Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names, using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife) but that they had also given refuge to persecuted minorities from across the world—Syrian Christians, Parsis, Jews, Armenians, and today, Tibetans. In 3,500 years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions. .
You cannot find anybody less fundamentalist than a Hindu in the world and it saddens me when I see the Indian and western press equating terrorist groups like SIMI, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve persons from the same groups—often Dalits and tribals—some of who have converted to Christianity and others not.
However reprehensible the destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this to the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Bombay, which wiped out hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet the destruction is often described by journalists as the more horrible act of the two. We also remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Muslim locality of Bombay.
So sometimes, enough is enough. At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus—whom the Mahatma once gently called cowards—erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly.. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, Mangalore, and Malegaon. It may happen again elsewhere. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership. Therefore, the BJP, instead of acting embarrassed, should not disown those who choose other means to let their anguished voices be heard.
There are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons on this planet. They form one of the most successful, law-abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists?! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated and non-Hindu, I do hope I’ll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents’ ideas, my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in