The Saffron Smokescreen
by Farzana Versey
Countercurrents, January 13
Swami Aseemanand is the rightwing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s PR man. His new place in the confession box revealing the role of Hindutva terror may gladden the hearts of the ruling party and the political mechanism, but he is in fact saving the skin of the real culprits. More importantly, this sort of admission of guilt reveals the poor state of our intelligence agencies and security. This isn’t about murder any more, but about martyrdom.
He is speaking the language of Narendra Modi when he says that it was the attack on the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi that made him and his band of saffron terrorists decide that they needed to retaliate. It started with the bomb blast at the Mecca Mosque in Hyderabad followed by the blasts in Malegaon, a Muslim majority area.
Immediately, the antiterrorism squad (ATS) arrested nine Muslim boys under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the latter case, for they apparently posed a danger and could create “a riot-like situation in the state”. Later, under Hemant Karkare, who was killed in the Mumbai 2008 attack in Mumbai, the suspects turned out to be members of a hardliner Hindutva group, led by Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and an ex-armyman Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit.
In a television panel discussion intelligence expert B. Raman talked about how we need a scientific enquiry into these confessions and the subsequent acts. This is rather interesting, for no one has talked about such scientific evidence needed when the Muslim boys were arrested and several other cases where organisations are branded when they take credit for such acts of violence. Are we to understand that Swami Aseemanand is saying all this to merely show us the power of Hindutva terror?
Is this a wicked ploy to frighten and silence the Islamist jihadis and tell them that the upholders of the ancient culture cannot be silenced? This really is not necessary. We have history to speak, we have riots, we have POTA detainees, we know that Hindutva terror has existed always; it was the infiltration from outside that kept its exposure on the backburner. The current confessions seem to be playing on sentiment using a fine strategy.
As the Swami said, “In the (Valsad) meeting, I also suggested that... (since) a lot of Hindus visit the Ajmer shrine, we should carry out blast there so that Hindus get scared and stop going there. Moreover, I suggested that mostly Pakistanis travel in the Samjhauta Express, so it should also be bombed.”
The first is a passive-aggressive move. It is not about who goes where, but what a place stands for. There are people in Ayodhya, too, close to the Babri Masjid so this argument just does not wash. What is of particular importance here is that they got two Muslim boys to place the bombs along with Sunil Joshi, who the Swami claims was killed by his own men. There is no explanation for it, except to reveal that there are fissures in the group and not everyone might want to go ahead with such plans. In fact, throughout the admission of culpability, there is the subtext of the Muslim role. Apparently, the Abhinav Bharat members were not happy with the RSS’s Indresh Kumar, although he actively participated in their activities. The reason is curious, to say the least. He was supposedly an “ISI mole”. If he was a Pakistani agent, then why would he be a part of their plans? Simple. Pakistan will raise questions and what better alibi than putting the cat among the vultures?
Furthermore, a report states that the radicals objected to him “for his attempt to woo Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. The RSS leader’s bid to flag off Muslims on yatras — a scheme that went largely unnoticed—had incensed some of the Abhinav Bharat members.” What seems to have gone unnoticed is that the RSS has a strong covert operation going on in Jammu and Kashmir and is the pivot for all the yatras. It is the troublemaker.
That is the reason the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, has come to rescue his party. In a counter-confession he said that there may be some radical members but they were told to leave the organisation since there was no place for extremism within it! He said that the accused are not in any way connected to the RSS. Why, then, were they asked to leave? This is such an old trick of the saffron parivar that one does not even get surprised. When the BJP is in trouble, then the RSS acts as its foot soldier. Now the RSS is in the forefront, so the blame is dumped on a few extremists, forgetting that its whole ideology is based on extremism. The mukhotas (masks) that contest elections cannot shed their RSS skin. In fact, it is the saffron blood that courses through their veins.
So, what is the role of Swami Aseemanand? It is to create a soft-focus photoshopped image of the RSS. Has he mentioned any high-level functionary in his confession or any remote link to prominent leaders? Do any of the persons mentioned claim to take their instructions from a higher authority? No. The demon of Hindutva terror is doing its dance and there is no way in which to wish it away. The best course is to accept the extremists in the fringe fold of Hindutva, the over-enthusiastic, misguided people.
The Swami’s lawyer is now saying that he was tortured into making the confession, although he had recorded his statement before a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC which is admissible in a court of law. Before doing so he gave an insight into this move. He came clean because of a Muslim boy called Kaleem who spent a year and half in jail for the Mecca Masjid blast. Since the Swami knew whodunit, he wanted to ensure that the “real culprits can be punished and no innocent has to suffer”. Kaleem was a nice Muslim boy: “He helped me a lot and used to bring water, food, etc. I was very moved by his good conduct and my conscience asked me to do prayaschit (penance) by making a confessional statement.”
Now, he is on a yatra with the National Investigation Agency (NIA). For over 18 months they have been collecting evidence, but there has not been a cheep from them about the possibility of such a terror group’s hand in the Samjhauta Express case.
All their talk about hideouts and explosive-stuffed suitcases seems feeble before the grand gesture of the Swami and by proxy the RSS. Such is the nature of the legal process that those who light the fire are the ones who get to hide behind the smoke.