Jawad Falak |
On 27th December 2017, a special NIA court ruled that Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and six others will face trial under an anti-terror law in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case while dismissing their applications for discharge. This is the latest in a high profile case highlighting the infiltration of Saffron terrorists into Indian society and institutions.
The court has, however, dropped provisions under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against all the accused. It discharged three accused – Shyam Sahu, Shivnarayan Kalsangra and Praveen Takalki from the case.
The heightened Pakistan bashing and the failure of the Modi regime to live on to its own hype will provoke more radicalization and terror attacks.
The court said the accused persons will face trial under sections 16 (committing a terror act) and 18 (criminal conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and sections 120 (b) (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 326 (intentionally causing harm to others) of the IPC.
“The UAPA sections 17 (raising funds for a terrorist organisation or a terrorist attack), 20 (being part of a terrorist organisation) and 23 (aiding somebody who is part of a terrorist organisation) have been dropped against all accused,” special NIA judge S D Tekale said.
Apart from Pragya and Purohit, the accused who will now face trial in the case are Sudhakar Dwivedi, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Ajay Rahirkar. Two accused, Jagdish Mhatre and Rakesh Dhawde, will face trial only under the Arms Act, the court said.
The court has asked all the accused persons to appear before it on January 15th for the formal framing of charges against them. On September 29th, 2008, there was a bomb explosion near Bhiku Chowk at Malegaon in Nashik district, killing six persons and injuring several others. The blast took place by an improvised explosive device fitted upon an LML Freedom motorcycle.
All accused in the trial are part of the infamous and brutal Hindutva terrorist group known as Abhinav Bharat. Abhinav Bharat or Young India is named after Abhinav Bharat Society made by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1903, and dismantled in 1952. It was formed by renegade leaders of the RSS and other Hindutva groups as well as Indian military intelligence officer Col Purohit.
It is imperative for Pakistan to start paying more focus to the threat of Saffron terrorists. It would be well to remember the following: Pakistan may not be at war with Hindutva, but Hindutva is at war with Pakistan.
Its driving force was a Hindu Rashtra with its own constitution and flag, for which it was prepared to separate from India. Its extremist mindset could be ascertained through its intent to kill RSS and other Sangh leaders as punishment. The group’s lethality was augmented by military grade equipment, as well as, military personnel in its rank. It left a trail of destruction all over India with bombings and murders, such as the murder of Abhinav Bharat member ex-RSS leader Sunil Joshi.
Read more: ‘Jihad against love’ in India?
Abhinav Bharat emerged as one of the most brutal components of Saffron terrorism. Saffron Terror is an analogy used to describe acts of terrorism motivated by Hindu nationalism or Hindutva. Praveen Swami coined the term, in 2002, in a Frontline magazine article. The Indian government used the term the first time when former Home Minister of India P. Chidambaram urged Indians to beware of “Saffron terror” in August 2010 at a meeting of state police chiefs in New Delhi. Most of such acts are perpetrated by members, or alleged members of Hindutva organizations as well as lone wolves.
Saffron terror has erupted since the rise of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its cohorts primarily the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Most terror attacks such as the assassination of India’s founder Gandhi, Destruction of the Babri mosque, the Muslim pogrom of 2002 and the 1948 Karachi bomb plot have been committed by members of these groups also called the Sangh Parivar.
Current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a controversial figure at home. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat state during the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom carried out by Hindutva militants most of whom belonged to the RSS and the BJP.
Both Pakistani targets on Indian soil and the nation of Pakistan itself are under threat. The capture of Kulbhusan Yadev and the BJP led Indian government’s anti-Pakistani stance is a case in point.
Many in India assert that Modi was the main force behind the mass murder of Muslims cited by many neutral observers as “genocide”. It was from this horrific atrocity that the term “Saffron terrorism” was first coined by Indian journalist Praveen Swami in an article in Outlook magazine. The carnage cost the lives of over 2000 people including newborns and also saw the mass use of sexual violence, rapes, mutilations, bombings, and arson.
The then BJP leader Vajpayee wanted to remove Modi for the pogrom but was stopped by his party and the international community distanced itself from Modi and denied him a visa till 2014. Modi has largely shown no regret over the atrocity which has solidified his reputation among Hindutva ranks. Modi was shown a clean chit despite a damning Special Investigation Team (SIT) report. His election as the most powerful man in India has become the nail in the coffin for any action against his role in the Gujarat pogrom.
His rise to power has also seen a rise in Saffron terrorism across India in the forms of bombings, cow vigilantism, lynching, and riots. Several hardened Hindutva terrorists such as serving Indian Military Intelligence officer Col Purohit and former RSS member Swami Aseemanand have been acquitted in order to divert the campaign against Hindutva militancy.
Saffron terrorists have also found a newfound status in Modi’s India. One of the accused in the Dadri lynching case was given a lavish funeral with the presence of Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma and draping of the Indian flag over the body (customarily reserved for “martyrs”). The murderer Shambulal Raigar has received support in the form of donations and mob violence.
Similar support has come to the members of Abhinav Bharat. Right wing media circles have shown the members of the terror cells as victims of “political intrigue”. The rouge Indian military colonel has been shown as someone who became a scapegoat by political rivals of the BJP while Sadhvi Pragua Thakur has been shown as a role model for Hindu girls. However the ramifications of Saffron terror will not affect India alone.
Pakistan remains the main target of Hindutva outfits. In fact, the RSS attempted to carry out what can be constituted as the first terrorist attack by a foreign group on Pakistani soil. Hindutva outfits have a long history of targeting Pakistanis and Pakistani products in India. The 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing, carried out by Abhinav Bharat, resulted in the deaths of 68 Pakistanis.
It was from this horrific atrocity that the term “Saffron terrorism” was first coined by Indian journalist Praveen Swami in an article in Outlook magazine.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, a Maharashtra-based Hindutva organisation, is regularly involved in attacking outlets selling Pakistani products and threatens Pakistani artists and sports players. Hardline Hindutva outfits like Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad call for attacks on Pakistan in order to punish Pakistan for the killings of Indian soldiers; alleged involvement in terror attacks in India, and to take control of Pakistan administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Both Pakistani targets on Indian soil and the nation of Pakistan itself are under threat. The capture of Kulbhusan Yadev and the BJP led Indian government’s anti-Pakistani stance is a case in point. Within India itself, more extreme radicalization is manifested in the rebellions going on inside the Sangh Parivar as well as the rise of more extreme and brutal Hindutva outfits like Sanatan Sanstha and the Gau Rakshak movement. Sooner or later these outfits whose attention is currently directed towards inside India may as well turn towards Pakistan.
With the BJP in power, the campaign of Hindutva terror will come in the combination of both violent non state actors and state sponsored terrorism. The heightened Pakistan bashing and the failure of the Modi regime to live on to its own hype will provoke more radicalization and terror attacks. It is imperative for Pakistan to start paying more focus to the threat of Saffron terrorists. It would be well to remember the following: Pakistan may not be at war with Hindutva, but Hindutva is at war with Pakistan.
Jawad Falak is a Research Associate at Center for Strategic and Contemporary Research, Islamabad. He is an M.Phil scholar at National Defence University, Islamabad and writes on events taking shape in the South Asian region. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.