Malegaon Files

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Havoc The site of the blast in Malegaon in 2008
Havoc The site of the blast in
Malegaon in 2008 Photo: AP

ON JANUARY 20, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the Mumbai Police filed a 4,000- page chargesheet in the case relating to the Malegaon blasts of September 2008 in which six died, including a six-year-old girl. The chargesheet named Lt Col Srikant Purohit as the main conspirator who procured the explosives and alleged that his aim was to create a Hindu Rashtra and states that he was planning to form an Israel-based government- in-exile. Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, 37, whose bike was used in the blasts, is the prime accused. Dayanand Pandey, a self-styled spiritual guru, was named the co-conspirator along with Rakesh Dhawde, an arms dealer who was accused in the Nanded blasts of 2006 and Ajay Rahirkar, treasurer of Abhinav Bharat, a two-year-old Hindu extremist organisation to which most of the accused belong. The others accused in the case are Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyamlal Sahu, Jagdish Mhatre, Samir Kulkarni, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Ramesh Upadhyay. These 11 are charged with abetting, aiding and conspiring to commit the Malegaon blasts. Investigations are still proceeding as three accused — Sandeep Dange, Ramji Kalsangra and Pravin Patil alias Mutallik — remain absconders. The police is also on the lookout for Swami Aseemanand from Dangs in Gujarat who is still absconding. If caught, several details about the plot might be revealed, along with possible links with the Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts. Aseemanand, who is believed to have enjoyed the support of powerful people in Gujarat, is still on the run.

The chargesheet included audio and video records from the laptop of Dayanand Pandey, transcripts of phone calls and text messages between the accused, forensic reports attesting to the use of RDX in the blasts, narcoanalysis reports, confessions from some of the accused and the statements of approximately 300 witnesses. ATS officials are confident it is enough to convict the accused.

Purohit used video clips of the Taliban to incite members of Abhinav Bharat

Additional Director General of Police KPS Raghuvanshi, who also has additional charge of the ATS said, “They were prepared to approach even the Israeli Government for support to form this Hindu Rashtra but want to attract likeminded individuals who are comfortable with their ideology, to the organisation.”

Videos from Dayanand Pandey’s laptop show ‘atrocities’ being committed by Muslims, including clips of the Taliban and Indian Mujahideen. These videos were used to incite members linked to Abhinav Bharat. Other clips show Purohit making inflammatory comments about eradicating Muslims from India and conspiring to commit the blasts during meetings of Abhinav Bharat.

Sadhvi Pragya Thakur
Ideologues Sadhvi Pragya Thakur

Defence lawyer Navin Chomal has rebutted the accusations, saying that Sadhvi Pragya cannot be named a key accused merely because a motorbike that belonged to her was used in the bombings. Transcripts indicate, however, that the connection is more explicit. She spoke to Ramji Kalsangra, the person accused of planting the bomb, complaining, “If you had to use my vehicle at all, why did so few people die? Why wasn’t it parked in a crowd?”

According to the chargesheet Purohit collected Rs 21 lakhs for Abhinav Bharat, to be used for propaganda. This was distributed by Ajay Rahirkar, the treasurer.

The accused started meeting in Bhopal, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Indore and Nasik from January 2008. On the April 11, 2008 meeting in Bhopal, Malegaon was chosen as the target, with Purohit committing to provide the explosives. Retuning from his posting with Military Intelligence in Kashmir, he brought RDXwith him. This was assembled into a bomb by Kalsangra, Dange and Mutallik at Chaturvedi’s residence in Deolali. Sources say Mistry, an arms dealer in Jammu, sold weapons to Purohit.

Ideologues  Lt Col Purohit used videos of Muslim ‘atrocities’ to win fans
Ideologues Lt Col Purohit used videos of Muslim ‘atrocities’ to win fans

The chargesheet, however, does not link the accused to any other blasts and categorically absolves other rightwing Hindu organisations of involvement in the plot — a surprising development, keeping in mind that investigators had stated that the accused had named high-profile leaders from right-wing parties as having helped them. Moreover, ATS officials had clearly maintained off the record that there was enough evidence to link the 11 accused to other blasts in the country, including the Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts. At a press conference in the wake of Pakistan’s demand for Lt Col Purohit’s extradition in the Samjhauta Express blast, Raghuvanshi stated, “Only one witness said that Purohit had claimed that he had supplied the RDX used in the Samjhauta blasts. Our investigation showed this was not the case.”

Ramji Kalsangra, the man who planted the bomb in the bike that was used in the Malegaon blasts, could have been killed because of the transcript of a conversation between the Sadhvi and Purohit on the October 4, 2008.

Pragya Thakur: I told Kulkarni to bring Ramji Kalsangra to my ashram. My people will take him to Dayanand Pandey and we will settle him.

Purohit: I want to meet Kalsangra and ask him what went wrong in Malegaon.

Pragya: Come to Jabalpur if you want to meet him.

Purohit: Would it be right to settle Ramji Kalsangra like this?

Pragya: Yes, we cannot take any risks.

Ramji Kalsangra’s death would forever bury the role of the accused in other blasts including the Ajmer, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta blasts. Sources state that Pravin Mutallik, another absconder in the case has already been detained in Karnataka. Mutallick is allegedly involved in the Hubli blasts of May 10, 2008: two days before SIMI leader Safdar Nagori was to be produced. The most important clue in the case was the SIM card used in the cellphone which triggered the blast, similar to the Mecca and Ajmer blasts.

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MALEGAON’S ANATOMY

Purohit collected Rs 21 lakhs for Abhinav Bharat, for propaganda:
distributed by Ajay Rahirkar, treasurer

Sadhvi Pragya, Dayanand and others
started meeting from January 2008

In the April 11 meeting, Malegaon was chosen as a target. Purohit commits to providing the explosives

The RDX was assembled into a bomb by Kalsangra and the accused in Deolali

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Names of leaders like Pravin Togadia came up during investigations as having funded Abhinav Bharat. Himani Savarkar, president of Abhinav Bharat, is supposed to have attended one of the meetings of the conspirators. They are not accused due to lack of evidence. The ATS states that it is the job of agencies from other states to investigate the role of the accused in other blasts, something which has still not been done. The ATS has also closed the question of involvement by any army officials by giving a clean chit to the army men who were questioned and naming them as witnesses, along with certain leaders from right-wing parties whose names came up during investigations, and who were questioned by the ATS. 400 witnesses were cited, including members of the Bhosla Military School, a training school which came to light after being named in the 2006 Nanded blasts chargesheet.

The chargesheet was presented after four months of investigation, which suffered a setback with the killing of ATS chief Hemant Karkare who exposed the ugly face of right-wing terror.

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