Karkare, “A traitor”?

Karkare, “A traitor”?

His probe against saffron terrorists “dubious” and evidence “planted”: NIA


Faraz Ahmad


The bloody Musalamans including yours truly have a fetish for conspiracy theories and therefore it makes eminent sense for the world at large to dismiss such “outlandish gibberish” by a Mian Bhai with a brush of a hand. Never mind if the author of such a thesis is a decorated retired IPS officer. Though at the time of the killing of the much revered martyr, Hemant Karkare, another former IPS officer, S M Mushrif was still serving the Indian state in Maharashtra only and while in service he wrote his famous book: “Who killed Karkare” and hasn’t disowned his formulation to date.

But way back in 2008/9 when the book was published and he accused the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) and saffron terror of being complicit in the killing of Karkare by the Pakistan terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, most people laughed it off as a typical Muslim trait of seeing phantoms where none exist. After all what had the likes of Haafiz Saeed and such others to do with the Nagpur boys, was the counter argument, which stood to reason then.

Mushrif had stated, “There is clinching evidence about the IB’s involvement but all efforts to establish that have been defeated. Our efforts to call for an independent probe have always been defeated. Unless there is a massive public movement, this will never be established.”

But with the premier National Investigating Agency (NIA) finally letting out Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the main accused in the killing of three score people through her motorcycle bomb blasts in Malegaon in September, 2006 and along with her allowing all other co-conspirators of Abhinav Bharat led by Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit to walk out of the jail as free birds and debunk all the investigations and evidence diligently collected by Karkare and his team mates against these worthies not just useless but “Planted,” there is reason to have a relook at Mushrif’s thesis. The NIA argued that though Pragya had owned the motorcycle, but she was not using this at the time of the blasts so the mere possession of the instrument of destruction is no evidence of her complicity. But the law is different for different people. For the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts the entire family of Tiger Memon, who apart from the main accused, returned to India voluntarily, was rounded up and charged with complicity in the conspiracy. Tiger Memon’s sister-in-law, the wife of his brother Suleiman, Rubina is currently serving a life sentence because a Maruti van used for those bomb blasts was registered in Rubina’s name, even though she kept pleading that certain articles of the family property were in different persons’ names and this van happened to be in her name. But she neither knew how to drive nor was in anyway aware of the movements of that van. But that was Rubina and this is Pragya.

The outrage is not merely over the fact that with the Sanghi regime ruling the nation, the NIA has gone and “honourably” acquitted  Sanghi terrorists but that it has in effect castigated Karkare and his team mates as conspirators against the so-called “nationalist” Sanghis.

Things are falling into a pattern now. Now we realise how the killing of Karkare helped the Sanghi terror cause. Let’s recall some of the events. On September 8, 2006 on the eve of Muslim festival Shabe Barat when most Muslims are out visiting mosques and dargahs for night long prayers, a series of blasts took place in Malegaon, Nashik district of  Maharashtra, killing 37 people on the spot and injuring 125 others (all Muslims) some of whom later died in the hospitals.

The then Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief K P Raghuvanshi immediately rounded up a dozen or so Muslim youth, pronouncing a hand of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in this terror operation and those accused were tortured and made to forcibly sign on confessional statements prepared by Raghuvanshi and his men. But all along the Muslims of Malegaon supported by other secular activists kept protesting that this could not be the handiwork of any Muslim. Eventually after years, the NIA did admit that no evidence existed against these Muslims either. Anybody with an elementary knowledge of Muslim society knows that no Muslim would go out and kill fellow Muslims on the day of Shabe Barat. But who cared?

Raghuvanshi  as ATS chief had only one task cut out for himself, carrying on mindlessly his communal inquisition against the Muslim youth whenever a terror attack took place anywhere in Maharashtra and often times even without that, on the pretext of having cracked a terror plan. Every time he did this he got a pat on his back from the Sanghis of all hue, inside the BJP, inside the Shiv Sena and even out there.

But slowly with the effort of good Samaritans, many from whom Raghuvanshi had extracted forced confessional statements by resorting to third degree torture, were acquitted for lack of any corroborative evidence and it became evident that Raghuvnashi was working on a communal bias and therefore finally the Maharashtra government was forced to replace Raghuvanshi with Hemant Karkare in January 2008.

Karkare together with a dedicated unbiased team worked hard at the case and attempted to get to the bottom of who could have caused the Malegaon blasts and finally in late October 2008, barely a month before he was gunned down, the Maharashtra ATS arrested eleven suspects, including a former ABVP student leader Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur,  Dayanand Pandey, a retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay and a serving Army officer Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit. Most of the accused belonged to a radical Hindutva group called Abhinav Bharat with prior links to Sangh Parivar organisations. Karkare’s ATS identified, for the first time, Hindutva organisations as being responsible for terrorism in India, and political commentators began to call it a Hindutva terror or Saffron terror.

The ATS under Karkare also suspected the saffron hand in a series of bomb blasts across the country in Malegaon again, as well as in Ajmer dargah in Rajasthan, in Hyderabad’s famous Mecca masjid, Samjhauta Express blasts targeting again the Indian and Pakistani Muslims visiting each other’s relatives in India, which took place in 2008 soon after he assumed office and started probing these in earnest. Each one of these cases is now falling in courts for lack of will on the part of the prosecuting agencies.

Meanwhile at the same time an FBI plant Dawood Gilani alias David Coleman Headly, working with the Pakistani terrorist groups patronised by their IB counterpart the ISI was making several recce trips to India to identify and report of the targets that the JuD was planning for its 26/11/2008 operations in Bombay.

Now it is unimaginable that the Customs and immigration guys at Delhi and Mumbai airport, who put every passport through their computer, failed to detect the antecedents of Dawood Gilani, a half Pakistani, whose father a fundamentalist wahabi Muslim while working as a Taxi driver in New York, had once married a young white woman in America who gave birth to Dawood and then the Wahabi Gilani fled with the child to Pakistan. So Dawood Gilani, spent his formative years in Pakistan in a wahabi set up with hatred for India. Later to make a career in drug running he migrated to the USA ostensibly to live with his much forgotten mother and there he successfully ran a drug racket till he was caught by the FBI and volunteered to work with it to identify others in the drug mafia. How much of that he did, we don’t know. All we know is that it gave him a good cover to return to Pakistan and now work with the ISI and its various Jihadi outfits including the JuD and thus with an American passport keep visiting India. But it should be known that the Indian intelligence does a routine check on all Pakistanis even if they have a British or American passport and therefore it is next to impossible that the intelligence guys were unaware of Headley’s movements and activity, especially because the man was going all over including J&K. So why did they let him carry on without making any attempt to catch and interrogate him in the least?

Returning to the Karkare issue, when Sadhvi Pragya, Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit and others were arrested by Karkare the Sanghis of all hue, but mainly the BJP and Shiv Sena, also the Sangh’s other affiliates like VHP and Bajrang Dal raised a hue and cry accusing the then UPA government of targeting nationalists and patriots to appease Muslims. They also pronounced Karkare “a traitor to the nation” for his investigations in this direction. The then chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, accused the ATS of undermining the military morale. Some BJP, RSS and VHP leaders accused the ATS of being used as a tool to attack the Sangh Parivar and of using illegal detention and torture. After all Purohit was also training young men in arms at the Bhosale Military academy run in Maharashtra by the Sangh. What better credentials of “patriotism” he needed?

The NIA charge sheet against Purohit has also recorded the statement of the owner of a hotel in Panchmarhi in this regard. The owner, a prosecution witness, had stated that said that in September 2005, Purohit met him in the hotel and asked him to arrange a camp for 40-50 people related to ‘Art of Living’ (AoL) at Panchmarhi. This exposes the nexus not just between these terrorists and the Sangh but also between these saboteurs and Sri Sri Ravishankar. Naturally their “patriotic” antecedents are established beyond doubt.

Looking at it from their point of view, there may have been some saffron justification in dubbing Karkare a “traitor” for this Purohit fellow had been engaged by Karkare’s predecessor Raghuvanshi to train his ATS boys in anti-terror operations and Purohit recalled this soon after his arrest to reinforce his “nationalist” antecedents. Ironically upon Karkare’s death, Raghuvanshi returned as the ATS chief once again and continued in that post till another favourite of the saffron brigade, Rakesh Maria, who surreptitiously and deviously aided Karkare’s killers, according to Ashok Kamte’s widow Vinita Kamte, succeeded Raghuvanshi. Thus notwithstanding a Congress-NCP led government in Maharashtra till October 2014, the Maharashtra police remained predominantly saffron in shade.

So in effect it was “a traitor” and his team mates, perhaps all “traitors” whom Ajmal Qassab and his accomplice gunned down behind the VT Station near Cama Hospital. His sudden heroic death in action shut up his Sanghi critics and once he died the UPA government of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh honoured him with an Ashok Chakra for his bravery and Sanghis could not bad mouth him any further. Also the then incompetent and Sanghi Home minister of that regime Shivraj Patil was replaced by P Chidambaram who had no stake in protecting the Sanghis so even after Karkare’s death the investigating agencies had to perforce not abandon for some time the line of probe begun by Karkare.

But now that the Sanghis are truly in control of all the levers of power, the premier NIA created ironically by Chidambaram to pursue terror, has predictably dubbed Karkare’s probe against the Sanghi terrorists as “dubious” and the evidence that established the involvement of those accused as “planted.” But then by this argument had BJP been in power then, it might have honoured Ajmal Qassab for having killed a “traitor.” Never mind, since the UPA government has already hanged Qassab the next best thing was to give pride of place to Dawood Gilani which the Sanghi establishment and its hangman Ujjawal Nikam have promptly done by turning the main accused into an honourable approver. Next he may be in line for a Padma Bhushan. You never know.




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