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Samjhauta blast: Murdered suspects, the next hurdle in probe

January 20, 2011 15:29 IST
The National Investigating Agency has a tough task ahead as it continues its investigation of the Samjhauta Express blast of 2007 that claimed around 60 lives. The biggest hurdle the investigators face today is that the two key people closely linked to the attack -- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak Sunil Joshi and his associate Ramprasad Kalouta -- are dead.

Two days ago, a team of NIA officials visited Giroda village near Indore in connection with the death of Kalouta. Earlier his death was dismissed as a case of suicide, but officials now suspect that he too could have been murdered like Joshi. In fact, they are now probing if the two murders are linked, say sources.

Kalouta helped Joshi execute the Samjhauta blast and if confessions of Hindutva hardliner Swami Aseemanand are to be believed he helped the RSS pracharak to carry out different bomb blasts across the country.       

Kalouta was believed to have been murdered because of some financial dispute in the case which is under trial in a court while accused persons in the matter -- Dharmendra Jat, Lakhan and Jeewan are out on the bail. 

His name first cropped up in connection with the failed Nanded operation in 2006. The bomb went off while it was being assembled in a Hindu activist's house in Nanded and Naresh Rajkondwar and Himanshu Panse -- believed to be involved in the preparation of the bomb -- died on the spot.

The police arrested four people in the case, however, Kalouta managed to give them a slip and flee to Madhya Pradesh. Investigators now suspect that he could have been killed by his own clan, since they were afraid he would spill the beans. Moreover, he was close to Joshi and knew too much about the operation. "Conspirators feared that the trail could eventually lead to Joshi and then to them. However, these are preliminary findings and still need to be probed into," said NIA sources.

As the role played by Joshi and Kalouta in the Samjhauta blast assumes importance their death proves to be a major stumbling block in the investigations. The prime task before the NIA is to ascertain who killed the duo.

However, this is going to be no cakewalk since all the evidence related to the murders has been destroyed. The mobile phone belonging to Joshi, which the NIA believes had all the information related to the blast, was destroyed immediately after he was killed in the Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh in December 2007. It was replaced with another handset by local RSS members. According to investigators, Joshi's revolver, diary etc was also removed form his house.

The NIA is likely to question the Madhya Pradesh police for destruction of evidence and is also likely to charge them for the same, as it believes they botched up the case. They will probe the local police as to why they did not pursue this case.

The MP police say that they will cooperate with the NIA. Sanjay Rana, inspector general of police, Indore Range, said, "We will extend full support to the NIA. They have already begun summoning documents pertaining to the death of Kalouta."

Another associate of Joshi, businessman Rajesh Mishra from Pitampura near Mhow in MP, has also come under the NIA scanner.

Mishra is an accused along with Joshi and his aides Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra in the murder of local Congress leader Pyare Singh Ninama and his son Dinesh in 2003. It is alleged that he provided Joshi and others with the raw material for preparing pipe bombs. This will be a crucial part of the investigation since similar bombs were used in the Mecca Masjid blast as well.

The NIA says that although Aseemanand makes mention about the Samjhauta blast in his confession, they still have a long way to go before thy get to the bottom of the case. They will have to probe various blast cases -- Nanded, Jalna, Parbhani, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer and Malegaon -- since they are inter-linked, before the real picture emerges.

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Samjhauta blasts: Aseemanand NOT the mastermind

Vicky Nanjappa