On 8 March, a Special NIA Court sentenced two RSS pracharaks Devendra Gupta, 41, and Bhavesh Patel, 39 to life imprisonment in the Ajmer blasts case. The court acquitted RSS leader Swami Aseemanand and six others, giving them the “benefit of doubt” – while questioning the NIA on its clean chit to two other accused, Ramesh Gohil and Amit, as well as “suspicious persons” such as senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Rajenda Chaudhary and Jayant. This involvement of the RSS men (whom the RSS claims, as they did about Gandhi assassin Godse, are “former” RSS men) in acts of terror should have been a huge piece of news, calling for serious national debate, given that the current Indian Government, Prime Minister as well as Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states are often hand-picked by the RSS which also influences public policy in India in a huge way. Instead there was a conspiracy of silence in the media, where the news was buried away, for the most part, in small news segments. The shrill media frenzy that generally erupts around terror cases simply did not happen. Was it because ‘Hindu’ terrorists are inconvenient? Or because the RSS is too powerful to question?
The acquittal of Swami Aseemanand also carries behind it a strange tale, which calls for a public discussion that, thanks to the media, did not take place. In 2010, Swami Aseemanand of the RSS, arrested in the Samjhauta blasts case, made a voluntary judicial confession before a magistrate, exposing the role of Sanghi terrorists in the Mecca Masjid, Malegaon 2006 and 2008, Ajmer Sharif and Samjhauta Express blasts and then reiterated the confession in Court in 2011. These confessions were not extracted in police custody, therefore not tainted by the possibility of torture, and therefore would have been very powerful evidence in the blasts trial. Aseemanand subsequently retracted his confessions – but in interviews to the media (for instance see a long interview with the Caravan magazine, dated 1 February 2014), has asserted the role of Hindutva terror outfits and individuals in those blasts. He has even declared that RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat gave his blessings to these terror plans, but asked Aseemanand and others not to “link it to the Sangh.” The fact that such confessions were ignored by the Court and Aseemanand acquitted is indeed shocking. As a result of the confessions being set aside, and thanks to the NIA giving a clean chit to many, the Sanghi big fish got away and only a couple of small fry got convicted.
The Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju asked about DU student and peace activist Gurmehar, ‘who polluted her mind.’ He did not ask who polluted the minds of Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel – was it their association with the RSS? If we go by Aseemanand’s interviews to the media, it is clear that the RSS is the fountainhead that inspired such terrorism.
While the Sanghi terror was ignored by the media, a strange incident of ‘terror’ grabbed the TV screens and print media on the night of 7 March, on the eve of the day the votes were to be cast in the last phase of a crucial poll in UP, where Modi had in his campaign been insinuating that the Kanpur train accident was in fact an ISI terror attack. A supposed ‘terrorist,’ Saifulla, was killed in a dramatic ‘encounter’ in Lucknow, the UP State capital. Saifulla’s father then, confronted with questions by media about his ‘terrorist’ son, declared that he would not collect the body of his son. This allowed the media to pit the ‘good Muslim’ father against the ‘bad Muslim’ son in a thoroughly unethical way.
The Rihai Manch has raised ten questions about the Lucknow encounter that helped fire communal polarization in the name of nationalist rhetoric to a new high on the eve of a crucial poll. We reproduce those questions below:
- 1. The local people have said they talked to the ATS and offered that they can convince the boy (Saifulla) to surrender but ATS dismissed their suggestion. Did the ATS not want to catch him alive?
2. Why has Qayyum who was the landlord and neighbor of the accused been removed from his home along with the family and kept in an unknown place? What information does he have that the police is afraid of?
3. ATS claims that Saifullah was hidden in the inner room of the house. In this scenario the question arises how and from where was he firing at the police? Or how and from where was the police firing at him? This is an important question as there are no bullet marks on the door and the walls of the house. Did the police fire in the air to create an environment of terror and make their story sound realistic? If this is not true why are there no bullet marks on the door and the walls?
4. Why are the media and other people not being allowed to go inside the house?
5. According to reports, till around 2 pm in neighbor Qayyum’s house after there was feud between the father and the son, the police interrogated the accused as well. He was present there even when the feud was being resolved. The question arises that if he was guilty (was a terrorist) and if his accomplices had bombed a train why would he be resolving an issue in front of the police? Wouldn’t he have stayed away from the police?
6. According to the police they got the information that Saifullah is a terrorist from the Madhya Pradesh police. But how did they get such accurate information about where he was staying just on the basis of name? Because according to the police and the neighbours, the police didn’t even look at anyone else nor did they interrogate anyone else. They reached that very house straightaway. This is unusual.
7. According to the police, the accused was killed in cross-firing at night; however, the local people claim that he was killed around 5 pm in the evening. Why do the local people disagree with the police’s claim?
8. According to the police they used a Mirchi Bomb because they wanted to catch the accused alive. However, people living about 1 km away from the house said that even they were having difficulty in breathing because of the bomb. Why was a Mirchi bomb used in such high quantity that it would make it impossible for a person living in a small room to stay alive? Did the ATS do this on purpose because they didn’t want to catch the accused alive?
9. According to ATS they have obtained the time table of the daily routine of the accused, which they consider their great achievement. This they have Whatsapped to various media groups and journalists as their achievement. However, this time table includes the timing of waking up, sleeping, eating, morning walk, reading namaz and discussing religious topics with friends. On what basis has the police considered this as an evidence of terrorism?
10. The police is still unable to tell how is the accused connected to the (Bhopal-Ujjain) train bombing in Jabri near Bhopal.