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Why its high time India and Pakistan own their mistakes regarding terrorism?

India and Pakistan must own up to mistakes made in this nefarious war on terrorism. India is the largest in the subcontinent and keeping its stature and position must begin the process with the bomb blasts in Malegaon that Lieutenant Colonel Purohit is accused of initiating. In ushering in change, it is what ATS chief Hemant Karkare discovered, argues Mustafa Khan

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It is time for the subcontinent to sound like a retreat from terrorism. Both India and Pakistan should step forward and own their mistakes. The high tide mark, of course, came when Makhanlal Bindroo was shot dead. His grieving orphaned daughter Associate Professor Shradha really spoke eloquently when she quoted the Quran that terrorism opens the door of hell to receive the terrorist. Tears did not well up in her eyes. But those who see her will control their own tears because sense is more important than sensibility.

There has been a multipronged attempt to keep the pressure on the government to release the Hindutva terrorists. Whittling down the gravity of wrongfully arrested Muslims in terror charges has come from a new quarter. Lt Col Prasad Purohit. He has written a letter dated February 22, 2014, to the home minister of the central government, Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Read more: The continued turbulence between India and Pakistan

Why the government is facing pressure?

The letter and his wife Aparna visiting the President of India for the release of her husband are thorny issues. They raise many questions. Purohit is on record saying that he would abrogate the constitution of India and replace it with a Hindutva constitution to establish a Hindu nation. The innocent Muslims framed in false charges of terrorism believed in the constitution and wanted a resolution of their cases within the constitutional provisions.

Many of them were not members of the Students Islamic Movement of India or SIMI and yet were framed to be members and activists of the banned outfit. The police played an active role in the blame game and their subsequent arrest. In contrast to this Hemant Karkare began investigation from ground zero. He and his team came upon the motorcycle used in a bomb attack at Bhiku chowk of Malegaon 2008. Karkare was a fair-minded well-meaning gentleman officer.

In the case of the Malegaon 2006 attack, the NIA gave out that Abrar Ahmad planted the bomb at one place and there was another Muslim youth who planted bombs at another place but he died. Subsequently, the police made the media change the story and said that Abrar was planted in the group of SIMI activists accused in the blasts case. This was being played in the media against the background of the NIA arresting four Hindutva extremists Rajendra Chowdhary, Dhan Singh, Lokesh Sharma and Mohan Narwaria.

Read more: Why South East Asian countries should be on alert for terror activities?

A logical argument would have two postulates

  1. Abrar as a planter of bombs would make him a terrorist.
  2. Abrar as the planted mole in the module of terrorists would make him an agent of police or even of Lt Col Prasad Purohit. Abrar’s helping the police to frame the 8 innocent Muslim youths in the 2006 case would then become perjury, an offense for which the maximum punishment is death.

Purohit’s latest move to demand parity in case of the arrested flies in the face of reason because in his Narco test he had said what is rife with graver implications. He had infiltrated two organizations.

The first was SIMI. “While serving as an officer in the Military Intelligence, I was assigned the job of collecting information on terror outfits in the Maharashtra region. I zeroed in on a group in Malegaon, which had helped Simi. I got in touch with this group and convinced them to assemble bombs for our outfit. I even resorted to threatening this group to do the work.”

This assertion of Purohit involves him in the act of perjury because he along with ASP Rajwardhan Sinha had Abrar implicate innocent Muslims in 2006 blasts. Abrar had enticed a friend Hamid Hussein Javed Iqbal to phone Abrar on the handset that Sinha had given Abrar, 9823436809. According to the chit Sinha had given to Abrar, Hamid read out the sentence “whatever you wanted to say you have said. Now listen. Whatever material we wanted to decamp with we have done it but could not bring it in the town.” Sinha had also recorded the conversation between Abrar and Hamid on his phone, 9422250775.

According to Sinha’s order, Abrar was brought to Jagtap farmhouse in Nasik on September 22, 2006, fifteen days after the blasts in Malegaon on September 8, 2006. The above conversation was recorded in the first week of October 2006. There was another dialogue Sinha had instructed Abrar to record on his given phone. According to this Abrar tried his neighbor Shafiq Mohammad Sadiq to call him and utter the sentence: “Don’t betray us Muslims or else the consequences would be serious.” But Shafiq declined to do it. This proves that Sinha tried to implicate three, Abrar, Hamid and Shafiq.

Read more: The whirl of terrorism and RSS’s agenda based politics

Looking back at a distressing incident

In May 2006 Abrar had a costly mobile and had a quarrel with his creditor at the tea shop in a place where arms were seized from Abdullah’s shop. The creditor snatched away Abrar’s mobile. It is said that the phone was so crucial that Abrar used the sitting MLA Rashid Ahmad to recover it. The MLA took the matter to the chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh where it was resolved. Abrar was so bankrupt that he could not afford such a costly mobile. Many believe like his cousin Sajjad Ansari that he was already a police informer in May.

But this contradicts Abrar’s claim that the phone was given to him by Sinha after September 13, 2006. On that day the police check post at Ram Setu had stopped and searched him and brought him to Sinha. The local lawyer Ms. Irfana Hamdani says that the creditor was from the family of Gulzar Buddhu who also wanted to file an affidavit but it was too late to execute it.

The second organization was Abhinav Bharat. His lawyer Shrikant Shivade said after his arrest: “He had mingled with the other accused and attended meetings with them so as to get intelligence information. Purohit had informed his superiors in the army about the meetings and discussions. Purohit had requested the chief of the Army Staff to permit him to disclose about the army operations to the investigating agencies but he was not allowed to do so.” Justice AM Thispay rejected this argument: “This is not prima facie acceptable. If this was the case then logically the Army would have protected Purohit when he has been accused of such serious offences.”

Even more damning for Purohit is that the ATS had said that the bombs assembled in 2006 were similar to the ones assembled by his team in 2008. This leads to a startling revelation of The Milligazette report of April 2008 that arms were seized from the pathology laboratory situated in the basement of a hospital in the camp road area of Malegaon near the Idgah.

Read more: India’s national security challenges and religious extremism

Among the contraband seized were five live RDX explosives, three used RDX explosives, one pistol, a laptop, a scanner, two mobile phones, four fake currency notes of one thousand each, and Rs 5000 in cash. There were three persons arrested: Nitish Ashire, Sahebrao Dhurve and Jitendra Khema.

The three-person belonged to an unknown organization

What is more clinching is the remark of Purohit: “We also decided to use the same modus operandi by planting the bombs on motorcycles,” as was the case in 2006. These revelations of November 15, 2008, mock at what Purohit remarked on February 22, 2014: “The truth… has long been buried under the heap of media and political statements and criticism. So unfortunate is the situation that the case, right from day one of its getting committed to the hon’ble court has been painted in the communal hue,” he has written.

“…When certain media reports are published with no or little understanding of the functioning of the intelligence corps, in my case of military intelligence… the same, I hope, is justly weighed at the top level before taking any cognizance of the same.”

So insistent has the Hindutva extremists become that they are seeking refuge in patriotism. They are oblivious of the fact that Purohit wanted to overthrow the government of a democratic and secular country for the sake of Hindu Rashtra. In the light of this, it is ironic to note that Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut accompanied Aparna Purohit to meet the president of India on February 18, 2014. He remarked later: “We will fight this [Purohit’s arrest] on the streets of Maharashtra.

A patriot cannot be in jail just for vote bank politics.” Purohit’s elder sister Vasanti said in favor of her brother “In the military court of inquiry, 57 officers vouched for Purohits’s integrity. He has the chief’s commendation card for infiltrating into terrorist organizations. The Maharashtra anti-Terror Squad has commended his intelligence inputs, yet he is in jail for five years.”

Read more: The dynamics of subcontinental terrorism before and after Taliban takeover

The courts, the investigation agencies and the Hindutva political parties like BJP and Shive Sena simply ignore the affidavit of Abrar. He writes there that on October 24th, 2006, he was kept in a lonely building in Deolali artillery camp near Nasik in where Purohit also stayed. Abrar ate his meals with Purohit and met some sadhus. There they were photographs. He has introduced to the ATS officers also and was presented to them as an eyewitness in the 2006 bomb blast case. Purohit and Sinha played the crucial role of inducting him as a witness whom other accused as Noorulhoda had implicated in the case.

Noorulhoda was first arrested in the case and was accused as a planter

Later they told Abrar that he was a witness and now he could not escape the blame. Abrar also had overheard the recording of the confession of Noorulhoda that was going on in the next room. He could hear the confession on the hand-free mobile.

However, two years later Abrar turned hostile. He started accusing Sinha and others of betraying him in making a witness in collusion with his wife Jannatunnis and brother-in-law Farooq Verdha. But equally responsible is the ATS. “The ATS had also planted a witness to support their claim but he later turned hostile, leaving the police red faced.”

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Even so on November 4th, 2011 a news agency quoted NIA sources saying that Abrar was the planter of bombs. “One of nine Muslims arrested for Malegaon had planted bombs for Hindu extremists, says NIA” read the heading of the paper. His motive was money. Therefore, he was not a SIMI activist. However, the judge gave bail to him just over ten days later, on November 16th.

 

Mustafa Khan holds a Ph.D. on Mark Twain. He lives in Malegaon Maharashtra, India. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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