The willing fundamentalist

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A murder suspect and rabid zealot, RSS man Sunil Joshi could easily have been checked earlier by the police

Joshi and Dange had tried to bomb temples in Mhow several times to implicate local Muslims

Joshi came from a very poor family and was educated at a RSS-run Saraswati Shishu Mandir. In 1999, he became RSS Zilla Pracharak of Mhow district, where he earned a reputation for being an acrid fundamentalist. In RSS circles, he was called Guruji.

In 2000, Joshi and two other RSS activists Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra became close friends. Dange was the RSS Zilla Pracharak in Shajapur district; Kalsangra was a RSS pracharak from Indore. The association would prove to be deadly.

While Swami Aseemanand’s confession places Joshi at the centre of a series of major terror blasts from 2006 onwards, it seems Joshi’s criminal ambitions far predated that. In a depraved move, Dange and he had already made several crude attempts to bomb temples in Mhow to implicate local Muslims and trigger Hindu-Muslim riots.

This emerged in September last year, when the CBI tracked down Rajesh Mishra, another RSS activist from Mhow and a close friend of Joshi’s, who had unwittingly provided him bomb-making material during his early days as a terrorist.

Mishra ran a foundry in Pithampura near Mhow. In 2001, Joshi apparently requested him to manufacture 15 customised pipes with grooves on the inside and a hole in the centre for some important RSS work. In April 2002, Joshi and Dange exploded two low-intensity bombs close to the Kade Hanuman Mandir and the Swarg Mandir in Mhow. One person suffered minor injuries; no one died. In December 2002, over half a dozen live pipe bombs were recovered from an ijtema, a large religious gathering of Muslims, held near the Bhopal Railway Station. Mishra paled when he saw pictures of the bombs on TV because they looked exactly like what he had provided Joshi. He called Joshi but in a panic but was told not to worry.

In August 2003, after a quarrel with Pyare Singh Ninama, a Congress tribal leader, Joshi and Dange murdered Ninama and his son Dinesh. The family named Joshi, Rajesh Mishra and seven others as suspects in their FIR. Mishra was arrested, but though Joshi had left a trail of evidences behind him, the police failed to apprehend him. However, he was formally expelled by the RSS.

When Mishra was arrested, he told the police that Joshi was behind the blasts at the two temples, as well as the attempted strike at the Muslim gathering. The police booked Mishra for the temple blasts, but did not name Joshi in the cases. He was allowed a free run from the law. This enabled Joshi to carry out the later terror strikes that would kill dozens of men, women and children.

In February 2010, a CBI team went to Dewas police station and took possession of a diary and hand drawings that had been recovered from Joshi’s pocket by the local police when he was found murdered. The CBI learnt that Joshi’s mobile phone, gun, and several personal belongings had been taken away by RSS leaders from Joshi’s house immediately after his murder. The local cops also told the CBI that they had been under immense pressure not to investigate Joshi’s murder too keenly.

The CBI found the numbers of two senior RSS leaders in Joshi’s phone book: Indresh Kumar and RSS spokesperson, Ram Madhav. Indresh’s number had been listed as an “Emergency number”. Swami Asimanand’s cell number was similarly listed. Besides this, other numbers in the diary included the RSS Headquarters in Jhandewalan, New Delhi, and numbers for firebrand BJP MP Yogi Adityanath.

The hand-drawn sketch proved to be of a bomb circuit. A Mumbai address written beside the diagram led to a mass manufacturer of electrical circuits but the manufacturer failed to identify Joshi when shown his picture. Though Joshi had been formally expelled by the RSS, the CBI managed to procure his call records between June and December 2007. An analysis of the calls made and received during that time showed that Joshi had remained in close touch with several senior RSS functionaries even after his expulsion.

Given all this, Joshi may have taken many answers with him to his pyre, but the murky footprint he left behind has left enough troubling questions.

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