THE Aligarh Muslim University vice-chancellor has written to the government to provide protection for his institution. He was reacting to the emergence of a group of Hindu terrorists who have reportedly made the university one of their targets. Not long ago, Home Minister P. Chidambaram admitted that ‘saffron terrorism’ was a fact in India and that it should be faced squarely. Initial reaction to Hindu terrorism in the country was that of disbelief. The BJP alleged that the talk of Hindu terrorism was meant to deflect focus from allegations of corruption the Congress was facing. The RSS even went to the extent of saying that “a Hindu cannot be a terrorist”.
Yet the confession by Swami Aseemanand before a magistrate has changed the tone of even the RSS which says that “radicals must quit RSS”, an admission of the presence of extremists in their midst.
The BJP condemns selective leaks by the Central Bureau of Investigation on bomb blasts allegedly committed by ‘Hindu terrorists’. But the confession of the Swami leaves no room for any doubt or denial of terrorism — a stand which Pakistan took for years before the Frankenstein of terrorism stalked the land.
The Swami, who first alleged that he was being framed in a government conspiracy, has now spilled the beans. He confessed his involvement in court under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code to make the evidence legally binding. No amount of pressure has worked on him to withdraw his statement. The Swami named Indresh, an RSS leader, as the brain behind the Hindu terror module that executed terrorist blasts in Ajmer, Hyderabad, the Samjhauta Express and twice in Malegaon.
Funds were provided by Joshi, another RSS activist. Two other RSS hands, Sandeep Danga and Ramji Kalsangree, joined them to avenge the ‘bomb attacks on Hindu temples’.
After several meetings the group of extremists prepared the roadmap for the terrorist attack on Hyderabad, Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif and Aligarh University.
The Swami has said in a 26-page confessional statement: “I suggested that the first bomb should be placed at Malegaon as it is closer to our location and also has 80 per cent Muslim population. I also said that since at the time of independence the Nizam of Hyderabad wanted to go with Pakistan, Hyderabad should be taught a lesson and hence a bomb should be placed there”.
After the 2006 Malegaon blast the Swami has said that Joshi told him that “his men have executed the plot”. The Swami has admitted that he chose Ajmer Sharif “where Hindus go in big numbers so that Hindus are scared of going there”. He has also said that a bomb should be placed in AMU because many Muslim youths study there. “My suggestions were accepted by everyone,” said the Swami.
The cloak-and-dagger story in which even a former intelligence officer was involved is not about a few persons from the RSS. The plot goes deeper. That the CBI is trying to unravel it is not adequate. The government has to devise means to fight against the Hindutva philosophy of the RSS. For a secular country, any fundamentalist thought is an attack at its very roots.
Fundamentalism spread in Pakistan — and it is spreading in Bangladesh — because neither the government nor the liberal elements thought much of it in the beginning. Only when the violence and killings mounted did Pakistan wake up. India has to take the menace seriously. The reopening of the Malegaon blasts case is a step in the right direction.
On Dec 22, 2006 Maharashtra had filed a 2,200-page charge sheet against 13 men in a special court. However, following pressure from political parties then Maharashtra deputy chief minister R.R. Patil announced the transfer of the case to the CBI for a fresh probe. The CBI said that it had no fresh evidence in the case. The new material should give the agency a chance to pursue the case vigorously.
It must be an act of providence how the Swami’s conscience was pricked. He was detained at jail in Chandigarh where a Muslim was serving a sentence for the Malegaon blasts. The Swami was touched by the care the Muslim prisoner gave him during his illness. The prisoner bore no rancour.
“The Muslim boy, Kaleem, pierced my conscience. I understood that love between two human beings is more powerful than the hatred between two communities,” said the Swami. He has reportedly written to the President of India and the President of Pakistan, admitting his crimes and seeking penance.
It is a shame that the 13 Muslims imprisoned on the allegation that they were responsible for the Malegaon blasts have not yet been released. Only Kaleem has been. The Maharashtra police are embarrassed. Their explanation is that they were ‘wrong’. Those who prosecuted them and even produced the ‘accomplice’, who became a government witness, should be punished. But it is a futile demand because I have not seen anyone from the police ever being punished for fabricating a case or prosecuting the innocent.
Is it not time when both countries joined hands to eliminate terrorism from the region? The argument by one country that it does not face such a terrible situation as the other does is futile. True, there is a difference, but only a shade. Maybe India has not yet been a victim of open terrorism as Pakistan has from the jihadis within and without. But India now has Hindu terrorists and Muslim terrorists apart from the Maoists. This situation has the potential for the spread of large-scale terrorism.
The writer is a senior journalist based in Delhi.