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Nanded blast was turning point in Hindu extremism

May 21, 2010 18:48 IST

While investigators probing the Malegaon, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts say these incidents were carried out by the Hindu right-wing outfits, they say the Nanded blast in 2006 was the first such attempt and a turning point.

Investigations into the Nanded blast never really took off. But now it is considered crucial for investigators probing the latest incidents.

The proof of Hindu fundamentalists being active in Kerala and carrying out terrorism related activities came out in the confession of T Naseer, an operative of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. Naseer said during his interrogation that he was instructed to strike back in Kerala since several members of the Hindu groups had carried out terrorist activities.

One of the accused in the Nanded blasts said during his interrogation that fund-raising was the toughest. In the case of the Nanded blasts, the accused set up a gym to raise funds to buy the explosive material and other things to carry out the blasts.

Investigators say godmen are involved in such activities so that funds can be raised easily. Be it the Nanded blasts, the Ajmer or the Mecca Masjid incidents, investigators found that each operation cost between Rs 45,000 and Rs 50,000. All funds were raised through collections and revenue from small businesses.

"We suspect that these people have a lot of local patronage for fundraising. We also suspect that there could be some businessmen who may be contributing for such operations, but it is too early to tell," an investigator told rediff.com.

They also go back to the statements of Manohar Rao Pande, who was picked up in connection with the Nanded blasts. He alleged that they received a lot of political support and hence were able to carry out their activities unabated. But investigators have drawn a blank probing this angle.

Terrorism by Hindu right-wing groups came to the forefront only after Sadhvi Pragya Singh and Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Purohit were arrested. However, investigators say the mastermind is Himanshu Pande. They say he single-handedly planned the Nanded, Jalna, Parbhani and Purnea attacks. He set up base in Pune to coordinate the attacks. He made arrangements for the material to make the bombs which were stored in Pune and he transported them to Nanded. However, Pande died while assembling one of the bombs.

Sources told rediff.com that the members of these outfits claimed the sole reason for them to take an aggressive stand was the Gateway of India blasts in 2003.

Police sources say that Nanded was the turning point as the failure of that plot made them more determined. Hence they decided to carry out attacks on a larger scale. This is when the likes of Purohit and the rest joined these groups. They then decided to carry out attacks on religious places for maximum effect.

Vicky Nanjappa
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