Edit/Op-Ed

Malegaon Terror: Targeting Muslim Identity and Emergence of Hidutva Terrorism

A lesson to be learned for Investigative Agencies

Shazia Shaikh for BeyondHeadlines

Just recently on November 6 2011, seven acquitted of Malegaon Bomb Blast received the bail. It was the most cheerful moment for them and especially for their family some of them burst out while hugging each other. It was the most emotional moment and Media had also given much attention to this. They were given warm welcome by the Malegaon people when they entered the city in late night.

In fact, Malegaon people has truly supported them and under took more than 200 days fast for their release and unfortunately mainstream media did not much highlight this. Their release is also considered to be historical as of first now under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MACOCA) as it is most intricate to get bail under MACOCA. In addition to this, National Investigation Agency (NIA) has indicated that they would not challenge the court’s decision on the ground that there is no sufficient evidence against the Malegaon acquitted. Hence, these two important moves strongly assert that they are actually innocent and were falsely charged in the case. They had been arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned for prolong period with the tag of being ‘Terrorist’. Their families were bully to live in vulnerable situation. The all together situation produced physical, psychological, social and economic injury for them and their family and in fact, they were as much as victimized as those who have been killed in Blast in 2006 and their bereaved family. Therefore, can we consider it as a genuine mistake of investigative agency or was it the established institutional bias against Muslims? The investigative agency in a ploy to safeguards their position made them scapegoat and victimized them gravely. The probing of the case against Hidutva terrorist also proved this. However, they could alone not be held liable for this deliberate mistake because they were rigidly pursuing the innate institutional bias against Muslims and therefore, this should be totally defeated in order to safeguard human rights of Muslim community in our country

It was K P Raguvanshi who was leading Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra when the incident of Malegaon Bomb blast took place on the auspicious occasion of Shab-e-Barat when there is usually big crowd of Muslims.  Subsequently without any second thought, Muslims youth were arrested without any sufficient evidence but rather on the basis of suspicion.  The immediate apprehending of the Malegaon Muslim youth itself strongly indicates the biasness of investigative agency that did not wait for a moment to trace the investigation. Not only in the Malegaon case but also in every subsequent terrorist attack in the country including Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blast Muslims were targeted and held convicted for terrorism. Apparently, investigative agencies were fully accustomed to pursuing unanimous line of investigation for their own conveniences. As a consequence, they fully jeopardized not only the lives of innocent Muslims but also started increasingly threatened the entire Muslim community whom on one hand have been alleged to be terrorist and on the other hand, anti-nationalist. In fact, the inbuilt institutional bias against Muslims has produced very detrimental repercussions for the secular fabric of India as well.     

In case of Malegaon, local Muslims had utterly resented against the discriminatory attitude of ATS Chief Raguvanshi and wanted his removal. It was only when Hemant Karkare step over as ATS Chief successfully traced the role of Hindutva organization behind the Malegaon blast and established the precedent for investigative agency. This new wave of investigation unveils the real culprit who had been conveniently sitting behind the curtain and playing the dice thanks to the unanimous approach of the former. However, Hemant Karkare exposed the clandestine actors and organizations united for common goals and hence metamorphosed the established status quo. The entrenched notion of the Islamic terrorism is now replaced by Hindutva terrorism. This Hindutva terrorism which was clandestinely operating has been now surface in reality. The arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Col Purohit and Indresh Kumar in Malegaon case who has been active members of Hindutva organizations such as Abhinav Bharat and Sanathan Sanstha aimed at making India as a Hindu State (similarly like RSS and VHP). In fact, Col. Purohit who had been working for intelligence agency had provided the total ideological and logistical support for the attack. Hemant Karkare is fully credited to dig out this reality and rupture the stereotyped image of Indian Muslims. This new wave of investigation proved to be immensely successful in exposing the hands of Hindutva terrorists not only in the case of Malegaon but also in Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express. Though Karkare is no more due to the unfortunate incident of 26/11, but his exposure of alternative terrorism provided new and living lights to our institution.  

Hindutva terrorism which was never identified before has been exposed now thanks to the Karkare. The first major visible instance of Hindutva terrorism can be traced back to the explosion in one house of Nanded in 2006 where two members of Bajrang Dal had been killed while secretly making the bombs and this potential Hindutva terrorism had been totally overlooked the then. It was only for first time in Malegaon blast case; Karkare had detected the role of Hindutva extremists. Subsequently, in 2009 in Goa blast four activists of Sanathan Sanstha were detained who had secretly kept explosives in one scoter. Hence, the role of Hindu-right wing activists more particularly from Bajrang Dal, Sanathan Sanstha and Abhinav Bharat are revealed in some of the major terrorist attacks in the country. However, the major development regarding the role of wide official network of Hindutva terrorism in India was exposed on the confession of former RSS prachrak Swami Aseemanand before Metropolitan Magistrate on 10 December 2010.  His confession has been recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) before Metropolitan Magistrate, admitting that he along with other Hindutva activists were involved in attacking Muslim religious places to give fitting reply to Islamic terror for ‘Bomb to Bomb policy.’ He had mainly confessed that senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, slain RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, Sadhi Pragya Thakur, RSS prachrak Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangar along with others were equally part of this larger conspiracy. His confession had exposed the covert operation of Hindutva terrorism in different parts of the country including Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhuta Express which vindicates the acquitted of Malegaon from any terror blot along with others.   

Though the RSS along with other Hindutva organizations have been strongly denying their role in this conspiracy, but the active participation of RSS prachraks and activists of other Hindutva outfits has evidently proved their major role in making up of Hindutva terrorism.  Both Sangh parivar and VHP founded by Savarkar and Gowalkar are one of the primary ideological foundations for Hindu state of India. They strongly advocated and inspired by strict adherence to fascism. In fact, Subhash Gatade, a renowned human rights activist and writer, who holds expertise on Hindutva politics, terror and their propaganda, has made important contribution in this direction. He had written two major books dealing with Sangh parivar terrorism Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India and the Saffron Condition: Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neoliberal India. He explicitly said that Sangh parivar and its allies are candidly involved in the acts of terror and very first such attack was the assassination of Mahatama Gandhi by RSS pracharak Nathuram Godse. Therefore, he discards the idea of differentiating between the role of organization and individuals which RSS has been defending. He also invoked historiography and ideological basis of RSS who has been active participant of major communal riots in India and every inquiry commission has equally blamed RSS and its allies for their role in communal violence. He has made several important revelations in his book one of such is Hindutva influence on Indian military which has became overtly evident on the role of Col. Purohit which according to him has to be recognized as a larger part of Hindutva terrorism in which some actors have made direct participation and others have provided ideological and other means of support to the operation. This Hindutva terror network is not only entrenched in India but there are also global network of Hindutva extremists especially in Nepal and also in Israel working in close collaboration with their intelligence agency MOSSAD. In fact, in Nepal their operation had been initiated much before independence both RSS and VHP were working in direction to make India as a Hindu state and to strengthening their ties with Hindu Nepal. Hence, there is a strong evidence of the existence of prolong Hindutva movement ideologically established by Savarkar and Gawalkar and carried out in operation by their successor overtly and covertly as Subash Gatade pointed out. Therefore, he cautioned the Indian institution over the rising importance of Hindutva terrorism in India.

Nevertheless, these major developments of Hindutva terror did not arise overnight and in fact, has been evolving historically as a result of embedded Hindu communalism. As Bipin Chandra puts communalism first begins with mobilizing people on communal lines, infiltrating entrenched psychological fear in the common minds, and finally sowing the seeds of militancy and terrorism. Therefore, it can be said that terrorism first undergo through the extreme course of militancy and building strong hatred through the well-formulated propaganda. Apparently, the various communal riots of India unveiled the active participation of RSS and other Hindutva outfits. Hence, perhaps there should not be any dilemma over the role of Hindutva Terrorism behind some of the major terrorist attack in the country such as Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer.

to be Continue… 

(Shazia Shaikh is an Assistant Professor at Ismail Yusuf College and works keenly on social issues. She is the author of a famous and recently published book “A Critical Analysis of Fatwas Issued on Muslim Women in India”. Her email id is shaishazia@gmail.com)

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect BH’s editorial policy.

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