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Interview With Hemant Karkare

By Rana Ayyub

29 November, 2008

ATS chief Hemant Karkare told RANA AYYUB, shortly before his death in the Mumbai terror attacks, that more army officers will not be arrested

The 2008 Malegaon blasts investigations have, for the first time, linked the right wing organisations to terrorist acts in the country. ATS Joint commissioner Hemant Karkare was spearheading the investigation. In an interview with TEHELKA, he had clarified the ATS stand on the conflicting reports that have been trickling out regarding the investigations.

Reports suggest that VHP strongman Pravin Togadia funded Abhinav Bharat, the organisation which is allegedly involved in the Malegaon blasts? Has this been confirmed?

There was a reference to his name during the investigation, but that has nothing to do with the Malegaon blasts investigations of 2008. At this point of time, we are only looking into the 2008 blasts.

Will Pravin Togadia be questioned, since his name has also cropped up in the narco tests done on the accused in the Nanded blasts of 2006?

No, as of now there is no evidence against him. As I said earlier, we are looking at only the Malegaon blasts, so there is no question of interrogating Pravin Togadia.

Reports suggest the involvement of high-profile seers in the Malegaon blasts. Has the ATS got proof of this?

We are not looking at seers or saints in relation to the Malegaon blasts. We are not looking at people from a particular community when we question them. We are just detaining people on the basis of evidence. As for Dayanand Pandey, he has proclaimed himself to be a seer. There are a lot of people going around claiming to be saints.

Was Swami Aseemanand from Dangs involved in other blasts, including the one at Ajmer, as reports suggest?

A reference has been made to his name during the investigations, we cannot divulge much at this stage. These people might not have been seers. Aseemanand could also have taken the garb of a seer.

While presenting its case, the ATS said that there was a possibility of those arrested in the Malegaon blasts case also being involved in the blasts that took place in the Marathwada region in 2006. Is there evidence to prove this? Has the ATS been able to link those arrested to other blasts?

There are agencies that have been looking at the various links, namely the CBI, which has been looking at the Malegaon blasts of 2006. The link we found is that of Rakesh Dhawre. He is a Pune-based counterfeit arms dealer who was involved in the training that took place for the blasts of 2006. He is the common link between the 2006 blasts including the ones in Purna and Parbhani, and the 2008 Malegaon blasts. Investigating agencies are working on it.

There are reports that police officials from other states have been coming to interrogate those arrested by the ATS. Is that true?

Yes, police officials from other states have been coming but that’s something which is protocol in such cases. They wanted to know of the modus operandi so that they could figure out if there are similarities to other blasts, in Andhra Pradesh and Chandigarh. What they found out is something only they will be able to tell you.

The ATS made a flip-flop on the links of those arrested with the Samjhauta blasts, which raised questions when it found no mention in the remand copy.

A lot has been made of the Samjhauta Express statement that was made by the public prosecutor in the case. There was a statement made by the witness that Purohit helped in the procurement of RDX. That was a part of the case diary. It cannot be taken as gospel truth. What was wrong was the mention of the same to the media, although we had said that there is no such evidence of the same.

The BJP has targeted the ATS for its investigations. Has there been any political pressure?

We are here to do our job as an investigating agency and bring out the truth. Having said that, it’s baseless to say that we are working under political pressure. There is absolutely no pressure on me or my officials. We are doing our best to bring the truth out.

Abhinav Bharat has come out as having played a key role. Is the ATS planning to question Himani Savarkar, its founder member?

We look at individuals and not organisations when we carry out our investigations. We are not looking at Abhinav Bharat, we are looking at the individuals involved. We have not questioned Himani Savarkar so far, and as yet, there is no evidence against her.

There are reports that an ATS team has left for Delhi. Is it true?

No, it’s absolutely untrue.

There were also reports that the army was not cooperating with the ATS with regards to information on Col Purohit and his leave records?

I would like to clear this. The army has given cooperation to the ATS right from day one on every aspect of the interrogation. There have been reports that the army has not been cooperating with the ATS and that’s absolutely untrue. The army gave us his leave records and other documents, which we needed.

Is the ATS looking at arresting more army officials?

No, we are not looking at arresting or detaining any more army officials in the case.

Most of the accused have alleged that they have been subjected to physical and mental torture.

We are doing our duty as investigating agencies. Such allegations come during the course of investigations. But they are untrue. We cannot do anything about such allegations

Can Purohit and Dayanand Pandey be called the key conspirators in the Malegaon blasts? Is this evident from the narco tests of the accused?

We are yet to get the narco reports. There is evidence against Purohit, but we can’t reveal anything at this stage

As the findings of narco tests are not admissible in court, does the ATS have substantial proof to nail the accused in the case?

The ATS has been carrying out investigations. We have enough evidence against the people we have arrested and we will present it in court.

There has been a report that Purohit and Dayanand Pandey had conspired to kill RSS veterans like Mohan Bhagwat and Indreesh. What do you have to say on this? Have those arrested confessed to the same? The name of Delhi-based doctor RP Singh too has cropped up during the course of investigations. Does the ATS have evidence suggesting his involvement?

The name of RP Singh came up during the investigation of Dayanand Pandey. I can’t reveal much about it at this stage. As for the assassination of RSS leaders, some references had emerged but they can’t be linked to any organisation.

Are more arrests likely to be made by the ATS in the Malegaon blasts? Do you also see the involvement of Hindu organisations like the Bajrang Dal, RSS, and Sanatan Sanstha in various terror acts in the country?

The ATS had filed a chargesheet against the Sanatan Sanstha in a different case, but there is no proof to link organisations as yet with the blasts. We are just looking at individuals.

Does the arrest of seers and armymen in terror acts suggest a trend?

Col Purohit was just an aberration. Just because one man has been arrested it does not mean that the entire army is tainted. Tomorrow, you cannot blame the entire police force just because one officer is arrested.

Have some other names cropped up during the investigations of the accused?Has the name of Nitin Joshi, one of the key members of the Abhinav Bharat, cropped up?

At the moment we are looking for Shyam Apte and Ramji, who have been named in the investigations. They played an important role and are absconding.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 48, Dated Dec 06, 2008 is a part of Anant Media Pvt. Ltd. © 2000 - 2008 All rights reserved

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