The Anti-Terrorist Squad Chief Hemant Karkare died during the Mumbai terrorist attack. But the Malegaon bomb blast case which he was investigating before his death remains alive. Indeed, the recent terror attack in Mumbai lends new urgency to all anti-terrorism related activity.
In the Malegaon case the media made many allegations based on official leaks. Some allegations could have been defamatory. Even some statements on TV by officials representing police agencies were questionable. In India the laws of defamation and libel are for all practical purpose dead letters. But regardless of police leaks that could jeopardize investigations, regardless of whether or not there will be eventually any credible convictions in the Malegaon case, from all that has appeared in the media it would seem that the possibility of some sections of the Sangh Parivar colluding with terrorism cannot be ruled out.
Earlier BJP President Rajnath Singh had strongly condemned alleged excesses by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) against Pragya Singh Thakur, one of the accused in the Malegaon bomb blast, presently in custody. Subsequent to a meeting with RSS Chief KS Sudharshan in Lucknow he backtracked and refused to comment on the issue to media. On that same day a very different note was struck in Delhi by the VHP leader, Ashok Singhal. He likened the alleged police treatment of Pragya Singh Thakur to the disrobing of Draupadi by the Kauruvas in the Mahabharata. He accused Sonia Gandhi of being an agent of the Opus Dei, described at length in Dan Brown's best seller, The Da Vinci Code. He went on to make dark insinuations regarding the deaths of Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The diametrically different reactions by the BJP President and the VHP leader on the same day may not be without significance. It appeared that the BJP under RSS advice was attempting to distance itself from the Malegaon blast. The VHP seemed to react wildly, almost in panic. Why make sweeping allegations against Sonia Gandhi at that point of time? Was it to pre-empt more damaging exposures on the way?
Sudharshan himself made an unambiguous statement against terrorism. He said: 'Someone who kills innocent people cannot be a religious person. He can neither be a Hindu nor a Muslim. Punish them if found guilty. We are not going to support anyone found involved in terrorist activities. Killers have no religion.' If media reports sourced to RSS leaders are correct, Sudharshan's blunt response was understandable. It seems that one of the main accused in the Malegaon bomb blast, Lt-Col Purohit, had a ten minute meeting with Sudharshan early this year. The meeting was set up by a VHP leader. Now with leaks suggesting that a plot was being hatched to assassinate the deputy leader of RSS, Mohan Bhagwat, by the group accused in the Malegaon bomb blast, that meeting acquires a sinister role. Had any harm befallen Bhagwat, Sudharshan could have been set up as the fall guy. When first the leak regarding the assassination came out, RSS spokesman Ram Madhav told the media that it was a Congress plot to 'divide the Sangh Parivar'. Did new information and reappraisal of past events convince the RSS that the Parivar is indeed divided?
The Hindutva sections committed to the Malegaon bomb blast accused are openly stating that the RSS and BJP have diluted the Hindu cause by trying to reach out to the minorities. These elements favor the VHP approach. It might be noted that for several years the VHP agenda dovetailed beautifully into the Jihaadi agenda supported by Al Qaeda. The end result of both agendas was to widen the divide between Hindus and Muslims, and thereby weaken the Indian nation. It stands to reason that hostile foreign agencies would welcome the VHP agenda. This becomes apparent not from current developments. It was obvious years ago. The foreign funds routed through NRI sources, and the nature of the activities pursued by VHP and Bajrang Dal, suggested clearly the danger of subversion by foreign forces hostile to India's national interest. Over the years several actions and assertions by VHP leaders had attracted adverse comments from this scribe.
On February 5, 2001 this scribe wrote: 'The VHP is anti-Hindu, anti-Indian and anti-national. It contains criminals remote-controlled from abroad.'
On March 18, 2002 he wrote: 'Today (the RSS) marginalized leaders sulk in obscurity. The Frankenstein's monster created by them has taken over. The VHP is ready to devour its parent organization. It has vast funds. It has international ties. It is a monstrous Fifth Column. It is a missile out of control. RSS leaders were narrow minded and communal. But they were not criminal. In their own distorted way they were committed to the nation. Their priorities were twisted but their intentions were patriotic. The VHP is criminal and corrupt. It serves the interests of hostile foreign forces. Its funding and the international links of its leaders require investigation.'
The Godhra train fire has yet not been satisfactorily explained. Six months after the event, in the light of the facts revealed, this scribe wrote on August 26, 2002: 'Circumstantial evidence suggests the possibility of foreign funded saboteurs having infiltrated the Sangh Parivar to act as enemies of the state. If investigations bear this out these infiltrators must be hunted, exposed and punished. They could be the greatest threat to national security.'
More recently, before leaks about ISI links in the Malegaon case started to erupt in the media, this scribe wrote: 'Even one effective foreign agent can manipulate and subvert many hotheads unaware about whose interests they actually serve. The roots of all terrorism could well be global.'
RSS leaders remained complacent. They were oblivious of enemies within. Now not only the RSS but every political organization should take a close, hard look at the primary source of its funding, and guard against infiltration and subversion.
Today India is international terrorism's prime target.