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January 15, 2011

Swami Aseemanand exposes Hindu terrorism

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

A jailed leader of India’s extremist Hindu organization "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS)" Jatin Chattenjee alias Swami Assemanand has confessed that he and several RSS activists have a direct role in several terror attacks on Muslims across India during the last three years.

His 42-page confession was recorded under Section 164 of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code before Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Dabas at Tees Hazari courts for his alleged involvement in the Ajmer, Hyderabad, Mecca Masjid, Melagaon, and Samjhota Express blasts.

Tellingly, during the last several years dozens of Muslim youth have been picked up, detained, tortured, charged for these blasts — apparently with clearly no evidence, except for custodial confessions. 

Why targets were chosen?

According to an independent Indian weekly, Tehelka, Swami Assemanand explained why these targets were chosen. He said, “Since Hindus throng to the Ajmer Sharif dargah, we thought a bomb blast in Ajmer would deter Hindus from going there.’’  In October 2007, two people were killed and 17 injured in a bomb blast near the scared shrine, which houses the tomb of a 13th-century Sufi saint. On October 11, 2007 the Indian Home Ministry claimed that the Ajmer shrine blast was the handiwork of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which was opposed to Sufi Islam, whose prime symbol was the Ajmer Sharif dargah.

About the bombing of Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad he said that it was chosen because the Nizam (Ruler) of Hyderabad had wanted to opt for Pakistan during Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.  The attack on the Mecca Masjid mosque, which is in Hyderabad's old city, left 14 people dead in May 2007 – with five apparently killed by police firing on a furious mob after the incident.

And Samjhauta Express was chosen because it was mostly used by Pakistanis. In February 2007, two firebombs exploded on the train commonly known as the 'Friendship Express' which travels across the Indo-Pakistani border. Most of the 68 victims and 50 injured were of Pakistani nationals. Three further unexploded suitcase bombs were later found on the train.

Swami Assemanand suggested that 80 percent of the people of Malegaon city were Muslims and we should explode the first bomb in Malegaon itself. In September 2008, three bomb blasts killed 37 people in the city of Malegaon, situated about 160 miles north-east of Maharashtra's state capital, Mumbai. Muslims had been attending prayers when the bombs exploded in a sacred burial ground, also injuring more than 125 people. Tellingly Lt. Colonel Prasad Srikant Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army, was arrested in November 2008 for allegedly procuring RDX explosives for Melagaon blast. He was first accused of providing explosives for Samjhota Express bomb blasts. According to Indian Express his bail plea was rejected by a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court in December 2010.

According to the British newspaper, Independent, police in India have suspected for some time that Hindus may have been responsible for the attacks carried out between 2006 and 2008, and in November of that year several arrests were made, including that of a serving military officer. But the confession of Swami Aseemanand, obtained by an Indian news magazine, is perhaps the most damning evidence yet that Hindu extremists were responsible. It also suggests those involved were senior members of a religious group that is the parent organization of India's main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The revelations in Tehelka magazine, bear added significance following the comments of Rahul Gandhi, widely expected to be a future prime minister, in which he said he believed the growth of Hindu extremists presented a greater threat to India than Muslim militants. According to a cable obtained by WikiLeaks, last year Mr Gandhi told the US ambassador to Delhi, Timothy Roemer: "Although there was evidence of some support for Laskar-e-Taiba among certain elements in India's indigenous Muslim community, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community."

Swami propagated the policy of “bomb for a bomb”

A leading Indian newspaper, The Hindu, pointed out that Swami Aseemanand’s statement is legally admissible evidence that makes it crucial for the investigators probing the terror bombings targeting Muslims at religious and other places.

Swami Aseemanand told the metropolitan magistrate that in a 2006 meeting with other Hindu radicals, including murdered RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi and Thakur Pragya Singh, it was he who propagated the policy of “bomb for a bomb”. Sunil Joshi, alleged to be the key conspirator in the Ajmer dargah blast, was shot dead in Madhya Pradesh in 2007. He is suspected to have been killed by his own men to cover up the terror act, Rajasthan Police has claimed.

Swami Aseemanand also confessed how he had motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out the terror strikes to target Muslims.

The Hindu pointed out that Swami Aseemanand's confession is the first direct evidence of the involvement of Hindutva extremists in the Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blast even though there have been accusations of their involvement in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts.

The Teachers Association of Jamia Millia, a leading Muslim University in the Indian capital, whose students were targeted in anti-terrorist operations, urged the Home Ministry to release a White Paper on the total number of those arrested and in jail currently for the blasts now in every single the blasts named by Swami Aseemanand as the handiwork of his organization and associates. “Those still languishing in prisons must be released without any further delay. Those whose lives have been destroyed, those psychologically scarred and socially stigmatized by these false charges and imprisonment deserve surely a public apology, from the state governments as well as the Home Ministry,” said the Association with the acronym of Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association.

RSS Terrorism

It may be pointed out that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS) is an extremist organization that had been banned by the Indian government several times. In February 1948 the RSS was banned and many of its prominent leaders were arrested after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by a RSS member Nathuran Godse.

The RSS has been censured for its involvement in communal riots in at least six reports by judges who presided over commissions of inquiry: Ahmedabad riots 1969, Bhiwandi riots in 1970, Tellicherry riots in 1971, Jamshedpur riots in 1979, Kanyakumari riots of 1982 and Bhagalpur riots in 1989. (Wikipedia)

A Google search about the RSS found its many extremist activities against Christians also:

- On 13 February 2005, six Christian missionaries belonging to Gospel for Asia Biblical Seminary were injured in the attack by the activists belonging to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in Kerala

- On May 12, 2005,a group of extremists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) attacked and beat eight students from Beersheba Bible College, a school affiliated with the Indian Pentecostal Church of God at Maraman, Kerala.

- On January 12, 2006, a mob of about 100 students belonging to the All India Students Council (ABVP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of the BJP,  attacked a group of Christians as they distributed pamphlets near a bus stand in Andhra Pradesh.

On January 13, 2006, 10 RSS workers stormed the house of Srinivas Balraju, a Christian who was celebrating his daughter’s birthday with his other Christian friends in an Andhra Pradesh village. The pastor was dragged from the party and kicked him unconscious.

- RSS along with its offshoot organizations Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal (BD) and Hindu Jagaran Sammukhya (HJS) stand accused of orchestrating the August 2008 anti-Christian riots in Orissa.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of America.