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No probe has directly linked RSS to terror yet

Last updated on: January 23, 2013 01:02 IST

No probe has directly linked RSS to terror yet

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Vicky Nanjappa

Despite the recent controversial remarks by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde alleging RSS and BJP involvement in terror activities, no probe has so far ascertained any direct link between the two, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

The latest remark by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on terrorism and training camps being run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has created a furore across the nation. It has even given the likes of Hafiz Saeed, the top man of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, some ammunition to bash India.

The question is what prompted Shinde to issue such a statement linking the RSS to terrorism by some Hindu fundamentalists, and whether the investigators have been able to ascertain the direct role of the RSS in the various attacks that have rocked the nation in the past couple of years.

Although in the investigating circles there was talk in hushed voices regarding a possible link between some Hindu radicals and incidents of terrorism, it was slain Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare who exposed this nexus for the first time.

During this time there was also talk that many of these Hindu radicals enjoyed the support of some members of the RSS.

So what have the investigations into the various cases relating to terror by Hindu radicals shown?

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Image: Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde
Photographs: Reuters

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The 'possible' links

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The biggest name from the RSS which came into the public domain in such cases was that of Indresh Kumar. The allegation was that Kumar was directly linked to Devendra Gupta, an accused in the Ajmer blasts case.

The other names from the RSS to figure in terror probes were Lokesh Kumar, also said to be part of the RSS. It was alleged that Indresh Kumar, who was part of the working committee of the RSS, was linked directly to Gupta, a pracharak, and Lokesh Kumar.

Further the preliminary investigations into the Ajmer blasts case showed that Indresh Kumar was in the know of some of the terror plots and had even helped Gupta and Kumar.

It was also stated that there was an attempt to carry out a blast at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi in 2007 and the intent was to attack Vice President Hamid Ansari. This was as per a confession made by an accused who worked as a doctor in Delhi, and it was also stated that Indresh Kumar was in the know of this plot.

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Image: Indresh Kumar


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What the probe showed

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The other details that emerged were regarding the fight between Samjhauta blast accused Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and Indresh Kumar in which it was stated that the latter had not done much to retain the rule of the Hindu monarchy in Nepal. It was due to this fallout that Purohit decided to go out on his own and get his own type of justice.

However, the other side of this story is that Indresh Kumar organised the Madhesis in Nepal as an anti-Maoist force in a bid to preserve Nepal as the only fully Hindu rashtra. But Purohit thought otherwise and felt that more could have been done.

Here one should look at the investigations conducted by the Rajasthan Anti Terrorism Squad which had arrested Devendra Gupta, Chandrashekhar Borad and also Lokesh Sharma in connection with the Ajmer blasts case. It was found that Indresh Kumar was in contact with Gupta.

Further the Rajasthan ATS found that Gupta was not only in touch with Indresh Kumar but had also been in touch with around eight other members of the RSS, Vishu Hindu Parishad and also the Bharatiya Janata Party.

These leads even led to the Central Bureau of Investigation coming into the picture and questioning a person by the name Ashok Varshney who was the former prant pracharak of the RSS in Jharkhand. They even questioned Ashok Berry, who is said to be a central committee member of the RSS. It was revealed that Gupta had stayed with Varshney at the RSS Bhavan in Kanpur.

Apart from the Ajmer blasts, the investigators also found that the Malegaon blasts were masterminded by Sunil Joshi who was later killed. According to investigators, Joshi was an RSS functionary closely associated with Sadhvi Pragya Singh, who is under arrest in connection with the Malegaon blasts.

At that point in time, the investigators from the ATS, CBI and also the National Investigation Agency had said that they had under their scanner nearly 100 persons who are believed to be linked with the RSS.

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Image: Security personnel and onlookers stand at the site of a bomb blast at the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty in Ajmer in 2007
Photographs: Reuters

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Aseemanand's confession(s)

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After this came the confession of Swami Aseemanand -- although it must be stated here that the confession was later retracted in court.

In his confession, which he later claimed was made under duress, he named Sunil Joshi, Indresh Kumar, Sadhvi Pragya Singh and senior RSS pracharaks Sandeep Dange and also Ramji Kalasanghra. He even went on to state that it was Indresh Kumar who had financed many of the blasts and the attacks were executed by Sunil Joshi.

Aseemanand was working for the Adivasi Kalyan Ashram of the RSS in Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia districts of West Bengal from 1977. He had said that he had motivated some RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out strikes against Muslims.

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Image: Swami Aseemanand being produced in court


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'Difficult to prove direct link, but no clean-chits to anyone'

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Ironically despite all these names doing the rounds none of these cases have attained any sort of closure as of yet, which again leaves the alleged role of the RSS in these cases open ended.

It has been found that there are many elements who had turned rogue and decided to take to terror activities. However, there is nothing on record to show that the RSS as an organisation had provided space or funds to carry out such activities.

Sources in the NIA, however, pointed out that some members of the RSS had funded these radicals without the knowledge of their organisation.

"It is difficult to prove a direct link, but we are not giving anyone a clean chit. Most of the RSS functionaries who have been questioned in connection with these cases have maintained that they knew these people but were not aware of what they were up to. There was a need to fight to aggression from across the border, but none had authorised anyone to take an extreme step," the NIA official said on conditions of anonymity.

"The RSS had even distanced themselves from these elements. Varshney and Berry had even stated that there was nothing wrong in knowing a person like Devendra Gupta. He was an RSS worker and was regularly spotted at organisational functions. But that does not mean we were aware of the plot," the official said.

Investigators also stated that despite several allegations being hurled at Indresh Kumar, there is nothing as of now to show a concrete link. "In some cases we have found that Kumar was in contact with these operatives, but the links regarding to his financing of these activities is still under investigation. It was also found that some of these persons were taking his name as they felt let down and cheated when Kumar did not come to their rescue when they were arrested," another official said.

As far as the 'training camps' of the RSS are concerned, which the home minister had linked to terror activities, investigators pointed out that most of these camps were found in dense forests. Many were camps that were operating individually and funds had been raised through donations.

There is no proof as yet to show that something has gone out of the RSS coffers to provide funding for these camps. However, investigators are also quick to add that the probe is far from over and it is a deep-rooted network which would take time to bust.

"Whether these were RSS functionaries operating under different banners in a bid to keep the organisation out of the radar is something that we are looking into. For this the probe relating to Indresh Kumar, and also the murder of Sunil Joshi, need to be completed," an NIA officer said.

The source in the NIA maintained that they have found a link between the Ajmer, Samjhauta, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts.

"It was basically the same ideology that was at work, but undertaken by different modules. Although the role of several RSS pracharaks in these cases had come to light, it would be too early to say that the camps and the blasts were executed at the behest of the RSS, and this, as we earlier pointed out, would require a deeper probe," the NIA official said.


Image: A NIA officer investigating the site of a bomb blast in Mumbai
Photographs: Courtesy: NIA website

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