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Update On Malegaon

By Subhash Gatade

19 September, 2006
Countercurrents.org

The final word is yet to be out.

The intelligence people alongwith other branches of internal security seem to be burning mid-night oil to reach a definitive conclusion. The mystery surrounding the bomb blasts in Malegaon, which saw deaths of 31 innocents and 250 people wounded, has not yet been revealed. Ofcourse there are enough clues to reach the final answer. But now it is becoming clear that for the powers that be what ultimately matters is not truth but the political costs to be paid to sustain it. As of now the formal position vis-à-vis the identity of the perpetrators is still unchanged. It could be Lashkar or Bajrang Dal. It just means the roots and the perpetrators of the bomb blasts in Malegaon on Shab-e-Barat could be traced to either the Lashkar-ISI nexus or to the Bajrang Dal-Mossad connection.

It may be one’s wishful thinking that ‘secular polity’ should not appear one sided at this crucial juncture, but one’s experience in this case is not very encouraging. We have all been witness to the blanket targeting of the Muslims in Bombay, in the immediate aftermath of the recent Mumbai blasts.

In the meanwhile the only silver-lining to the otherwise gloomy scenario is the way people in Malegaon have exhibited tremendous zeal in maintaining communal harmony. The holding of communal harmony rallies has rather become a regular feature of this post-blast period. It is said that ‘adversity unites’ and perhaps ordinary citizens of the ‘communally sensitive’ town have realized in their hours of crisis the motivations of the fanatics who peddle their hate project in the language of the believers.

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The first official confirmation of sorts that the Sangh Parivar organizations could have a role in the blast came from the Prime Minister himself. Emphasising the need to investigate the functioning of the Hindu Rightwing formations he clearly stated that he could not confirm or rule out the possibility of the involvement of Bajrang Dal in the bloody act at Malegaon. He made this calibrated statement en route to Havana, while going for the NAM summit.

“ Bajrang Dal continues to be under the scanner. “There is no reason to rule them out. We still haven’t found anything to prove that Bajrang Dal is not involved,” a senior officer said. The Hindu fringe group is under investigation in Malegaon because of the role of its activists in various bomb blasts. “ (PM doesn’t rule out Bajrang role, Josy Joseph, Wednesday, September 13, 2006 00:50 IST, DNA India) Forget the radical media, even a conservative newspaper like Times of India, instead of unleashing its usual tirade against the ‘omnipresent Jihadi terrorists’, carefully captioned its writeup ‘Bajrang Dal or Lashkar’ (9 th September, Updated at 12.311 jrs. IST) while discussing the bomb blasts in Malegaon. In the particular write-up it specifically mentioned the modus operandi adopted by the Bajrang Dal in blasts at Parbhani’s Mohammadi Masjid and mosques at Purna and Jalna earlier this year. Of course it did not rule out the possibity of the involvement of Lashkar in this particular case.

The scepticism writ large among the wider populace about the pace of investigations is understandable. Compared to the alacrity with which the needle of susupicion was pointed towards Lashkar-e-Toiba, in the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai train blasts on 11 th July, the investigations here appear to be moving at snail’s pace.

Of late the impartiality of the state police force in Maharashtra has also come under cloud. People know that it is the same police force, which was found to be wanting when bomb blasts occured in Nanded at a RSS workers house (6 th April 2006) which saw deaths of four of its activists. In this particular case despite finding evidence that the Bajrang Dal-RSS workers had hatched a big conspiracy to create 'communal disturbance' in the whole area on the eve of the Advani's Suraksha Yatra, it was not followed up with diligence.

Discussing the Malegaon blasts Indian Express in its 18 th September edition makes a point which needs careful scrutiny “…[I]slamic militant groups in India from the days insurgency began in Kashmir in the 1990s have not attacked mosques or shops where religious books are sold’ Ofcourse it is also of the opinion that ‘Chances of Hindu fundamentalists being involved also seem remote as, sources pointed out, they do not have the capability to make sophisticated devices..”

While the newspaper has every right to include/ exclude formations from its ambit of investigations, the state and its machinery need to be impartial. And Radhika Koppikar of the ‘Outlook’ (13 September 2006, Web Only) was shocked to learn the opposite:

“That the investigators should so blatantly rule out involvement of any Hindutva outfit is cause for concern. …. the fact remains that the cops are not chasing some clues. Take the case of "fake beard" as it has come to be known here. A tailor Aqeel Ahmed Ansari who works near the Bada Kabristan told cops and bystanders that he had picked up a body from near one of the bicycles and handed it over to volunteers in the ambulance, that this body did not have the lower part of the torso and it's beard had come off in the ambulance. The suggestion being that it was a fake beard and therefore the body of a perpetrator. Coincidentally, the two hospitals that conducted post-mortems said that they had together handled 30 bodies and none was without the lower half. “

People who are familiar with the recent communal situation in Maharahstra very well know the significance of a ‘fake beard’. It was in Nanded only, where the police had discovered fake beards as well as dresses and caps normally worn by Muslims, in a raid on a deceased Bajrang Dal-RSS activists house in the aftermath of the bomb blast in April.

-SUBHASH GATADE,writer and social activist, edits a Hindi journal 'Sandhan', regularly writes for English, Hindi and Urdu publications. Can be contacted at subhash.gatade@gmail.com

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