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Why cracking Sunil Joshi's murder case is critical for NIA

January 17, 2012 15:24 IST

The National Investigation Agency, which is probing the mysterious murder of former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist Sunil Joshi -- a suspect in the Samjhauta blasts case -- have an uphill task ahead of them.

They have taken over almost all cases in which Hindu extremists have been suspected, and in the words of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, the agency would take all these cases to its 'logical end'.

The NIA has in its possession various details regarding Sunil Joshi murder case and has also questioned accused no 5, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the jailed Malegaon blast accused, at the Byculla jail in Mumbai on a couple of occasions.

Sunil Joshi, 45, was found murdered on December 29, 2007, at Dewas in Madhya Pradesh.

Although this is a case of murder, the NIA says it is extremely crucial for them to crack it as it would help solve the various terror cases in which 'Hindu extremists' have been suspected to be involved.

A chargesheet was filed in this case prior to the NIA taking over it. The NIA was specifically asked to take over this case as it was found to be directly linked with the various other incidents of terror, ranging from the Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad to Samjautha Express blasts, which the NIA is probing.

NIA sources say that it is tough to say at the moment whether they would go along with the existing chargesheet or would file an additional chargesheet in this case.

The initial probe makes it clear that close aides of Joshi were behind the murder. There has also been an angle to this case in the past where it was said that Joshi was closely associated with members of the Students Islamic Movement of India and was trying to use them for his operations, and this could have angered his aides.

The NIA says that the primary angle to this probe would commence with his falling out with the RSS, whose members called him 'Guruji' when he was alive.

Joshi was considered to be a dynamic person and was a blue-eyed boy to them and hence the falling out is extremely strange and suspicious. Even after his murder, the RSS made it a point to visit his home and garland his photo, but then that stopped the moment the RSS was being linked to his murder.

Joshi was also part of the module that planned and carried out the Samjautha, Mecca Masjid and Malegaon attacks.

In fact the confession which was made by Aseemanand and later withdrawn speaks about the role played by Joshi in all these cases, and hence that makes him an important person in the probe.

The more important aspect for the NIA is to crack the exact reason for the murder of Joshi. Sources say that he was no ordinary man who they could have just murdered over a trivial issue. There is much more to it and it was done at the behest of several important people involved in this terror nexus.

Going by Joshi's record, it becomes clear that he was one of the most crucial persons in this terror rung and it was thanks to him that so many operations were carried out with such ease.

He had roped in Ramji Kalasanghra who is currently on the run for all his operations, and the final status of the investigation also points to the nexus between the two. They also managed to rope in Sandeep Dange into their fold, and right from 2001 they have been carrying out attacks together.

They started off on a small scale and then moved on to the bigger operations, investigators point out. The trio was also blamed for the murder of a Congress tribal leader Pyare Singh in 2003.

Although the RSS formally expelled Joshi, investigations continued to show that Joshi had been in contact with some of the members, and this had started worrying a couple of members who were in touch with him.

What the NIA says is that those who were behind his murder were also in the know of his operations. Although investigations are being conducted into these cases, the NIA is yet to find out details about political backing, funding and also local modules which helped facilitate the various incidents of terror carried out by this module.

Currently the NIA has in its custody a long list of people, but then again the agency is well aware that they are nothing but puppets and the bigwigs are still out in the open.

It is once again not an easy case, the NIA says. Certain important documents such as call logs and SIM cards have gone missing.

There are some documents which the Central Bureau of Investigation was in possession of and this has been used to build up the case.

There are some call logs and diary entries to show some of the persons Joshi called despite him being expelled from RSS. "We would build on these leads and finally close the case," the NIA sources point out.

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Vicky Nanjappa