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Malegaon Blasts
Trail leads to Hindutva laboratory
Spotlight turns on hardcore elements in VHP
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 9
Investigators probing last Septemberís bomb blasts in Maharashtraís Malegaon town have discovered the involvement of senior activists belonging to Vishwa Hindu Parishad based in Gujarat. The spotlight has now turned on the hardcore elements in the VHP who have been accused of fomenting communal violence against Christian tribals in Gujaratís communally sensitive Dangs district, known as the laboratory for Hindutva in the state.

According to sources some of the hardcore activists of the VHP were beginning to feel suffocated as the government of Gujarat leaned on the organisationís leadership in the face of continued criticism. A section of the VHP felt that the spate of bomb blasts by Islamic organisations like the Indian Mujahideen called for some drastic action.

Activists of the Abhinav Bharat, who are being investigated for carrying out the Malegaon blasts, managed to sway a number of VHP leaders in Dangs, including Swami Ashimanand Maharaj of Sabridham. The controversial Swami is behind the Sabri Maha Kumbh organised in the district more than two years ago the run up for which saw scores of churches in the district being burnt and Christian tribals rendered homeless.

The Narendra Modi government that has since been trying to adopt a moderate face has been acting tough on such activities much to the discomfiture of the VHP leaders. Police officials here say that Abhinav Bharat activists, including Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, had been meeting with several VHP middle-level leaders to create a parallel organisation with a militant approach to Hindutva.

Word of their activities was common knowledge among leaders of the Sangh Parivar in western India, according to sources. Reports say some sort of rapprochement between VHP leaders like Pravin Togadia and Abhinav Bharatís leaders like Lt Col Purohit and Sameer Kulkarni were also sought to be effected.

However, after the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya and the others, RSS leaders are downplaying their organisationís link with Abhinav Bharat.

The police has already questioned a senior Pune-based RSS leader in this regard.

Swami Ashimanand Maharaj at whose ashram in Dangs Sadhvi Pragya and others are said to have a meeting is absconding. However, the arrest of the Swamiís close associate Sunil Dhawde two days ago is expected to shed light about his whereabouts.

Investigators are also probing the possible involvement of Abhinav Bharatís activists in the bomb blast at Nanded on April 6, 2006. The blast at the residence of a local RSS activist Lakshman Rajkondawar killed his son Naresh and another person named Himanshu while four others were seriously injured. All of them were said to be assembling bombs in the premises.

MCOCA charges

Investigators belonging to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra police are looking at applying the tough provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) against all nine persons arrested in the Malegaon blast case.

The tough law was put in abeyance after a hue and cry by human rights activists.

It was famously used against film producer and diamond merchant Bharat Shah more than five years ago for his alleged links with the underworld.

Under MCOCA, it is difficult for an accused to get bail. The police can take up to 180 days to file a chargesheet against the accused as against the 90-day period permitted under the normal laws.

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