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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Investigation and Media's role in Terrorism: Indore, Hindutva hardliners' haven!

The arrest of right-wing militants in connection with the blast in Ajmer Dargah isn't surprising and is just another in the series of arrests of members of organisations ranging from Abhinav Bharat to Sanatan Sanstha who have committed a series of bombings in India from Malegaon to Goa.

Headlines in prominent newspapers and leading English channels read like 'Abhinav Bharat man caught', 'Ajmer blast suspects linked to Hindu groups' or 'Ajmer blast: Hindu group responsible'.

There is no mention of 'terrorism' and suddenly words like suspects and 'organisation member' are back in journalistic lingo. Just a recent example because public memory is short:

Bettig mafia respsosible for blast in Bagalore stadium during IPL!

During the Indian Premier League (IPL), bombs exploded in the stadium in Bangalore. Soon after, journalists who crave for breakthroughs and first page bylines, were mouthing names of persons involved in the blasts. There were reports that security agencies don't deny the role of particular persons.

A few days passed and the everybody has forgotte it. Now it seems that it was local betting mafia that was involved in planting bombs in the stadium, and we no longer read any follow-ups or any sort of news. So did it make it less serious if underworld or betting mafia is involved?

The classic case was in Assam where major bomb strikes in which dozens died were ignored when ULFA was involved but once minor blasts occurred and a news agency suspected 'Islamists' angle', it was suddenly prime time news and got repeatedly termed as terrorist attacks.

Just a day ago the Bangladesh government has handed DR Nabla alias Ranjan Daimary, the chief of the militant NDFB, that was involved in serial bombings in Assam in 2008 that caused over a 100 deaths. But the arrest didn't make big news despite the fact that a terrorist mastermind was caught.

Ironically media perceptions force police and investigative agencies to hurry up in investigations and they throw up names to evade intrusive journos by saying that such group's involvement is not ruled out. The casualty is truth.

Apart from inefficiency and political reasons, often the cases are not cracked because of these reasons. It's a fact that had there been a BJP government in Maharashtra, Goa or Rajasthan, the activists of Sanatan Sanstha or Abhinav Bharat may never have been arrested.

Upright officers, political will needed

Though Himanshu Panse's role in blasts in Marathwada had alerted security agencies, the investigation was closed. Firstly, some officers were soft on the group while others apparently didn't want to get into controversy. It took an officer of the calibre of Hemant Karkare to unravel this network.

Even in cases of blasts where there was a clear stamp of right-wing radicals, Muslim youths were arrested and put for months in illegal detentions. In Hyderabad, those protesting police action were fired at and many were killed.

The fact is that whether it is Hindutva-inspired fanatic or the Islamist militant, they are equally dangerous for the country. Terrorism and crime should be seen purely as a threat to the nation and not from the prism of religion.

Sadly, this doesn't happen. When some youths from Azamgarh were arrested, the entire district was demonised. When youths from a particular Muslims-dominated town were arrested, the name of the town 'Bhatkal' was added to their names though it was not their surname.

The aim was to defame the town. It was part of a strategy. Shouldn't Indore be also termed haven of Hindutva-wadis in India. This peaceful town in Central India has been linked to almost all the major cases of bomb blasts.

Should towns be defamed: Is Indore Hindutva-wadi's Azamgarh?

Either its Malegaon blast, Mecca Masjid or Ajmer terror strike, the accused are being arrested from Indore. The planning was done here. Even investigation trail in Samjhauta Express case has reached Indore. And the most wanted man, Ramji Kalsangra, whose arrest can unravel the entire group, also hails from here.

It is not that MP police were not aware of Sunil Joshi's shadowy organisation that was based in Indore. It was also aware of Samir Kulkarni's Abhinav Bharat that was functioning from MP. But the state police didn't act then even though local Hindi papers printed tonnes of material.

Kulkarni's role in planting bombs at Bhopal's major Islamic gathering of tablighi jamaat that attracts 1 million Muslims was also known but police under BJP rule didn't act. It is only when CBI and central investigative agencies reached Indore that the activity began.

The unfortunate aspect is that everything in India either gets politicised or communalised. Read the entire series on Falsehoods about Terrorism on this Blog.