When it comes to terrorism in South Asia, the first thing in your mind may be its link to Islamic Fundamentalism, the reason; it has been stereotyped for too long. Meanwhile in India, the existence of Hindutva or Saffron terror has existed since ages; however its true modern day manifestation was exhibited when Nathuram Godse, an RSS terrorist, assassinated Gandhi. The headlines of 5 Feb 1948 edition of Indian Express read, “RSS declared unlawful throughout India”.
Fast forward to 30 Jan 2019,the India Today reported that on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha celebrated his death and the ‘martyrdom’ of Nathuram Godse, the man who killed Gandhi on January 30, 1948. Hindu Mahasabha national secretary Puja Shakun Pandey shot at an effigy of Mahatma Gandhi , celebrating ‘Martyr’s Day’ in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh. After Pandey shot at the Gandhi, ‘blood’ was seen oozing out of the effigy.
Saffron or Hindutva terror has not been discussed in Pakistan and to some extent in the West due to our typical couldn’t care less attitude and habit of missing forest for a tree. It’s only when BJP came to power and stared asserting Hindutva ideology that the Saffron Terror came to light. As we discuss this issue, India is about to complete an election process which will define the future of more than 1.75 billion people of South Asia. As stated by Arundhati Roy, BJP’s return to power or defeat may not matter as the concept of Hindutva has penetrated the minds of majority of Indians.
Since we don’t study Indian polity in too much of detail in Pakistan ,it may be reminded to the audience that RSS has many sub-branches and surrogate organizations with different names, however they have one agenda. RSS outfits have targeted any one standing in the way of establishing a Hindu Rashtra, no wonder it launched various campaigns like Ghar Wapsi, Gao Raksha, Ram Mandir and Beti Bachao etc to suffocate the minorities like Muslims and Dalits. The militant arm of RSS has been used to resurrect the ghost of Nathuram Godse and this arm has targeted leaders and opinion makers, who are labeled as Urban Nexals or Tukre Tukre Gang (those who will shred India into pieces) and are considered as traitors standing in the way of establishment of Hindu Raj.
Some of the important wings of militant RSS include, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Abhinav Bharat and Sanatan Sanstha. These gangs launched an assassination campaign and killed the rationalist Dabholkar, leftist thinker Govind Pansare, Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and journalist Ms Gauri Lankesh.
As reported by Indian Express, the Special Investigation Team(SIT) on Gauri Lankesh case has found that 19 training camps were organised by the Sanatan Sanstha linked group in the usage of firearms, improvised explosive devices and subterfuge tactics across India between 2011 and 2017 with the five IED experts attending five of the camps in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka as “guest trainers”. Some trainers like “Babaji” moved around in the garb of monks. Each trainer, sources said, had his own area of expertise ranging from petrol bombs to sophisticated pipe bombs with electrical circuits – on the lines of mobile phone triggered IEDs used in some of the blasts that occurred between 2006-08. Giving descriptions of four trainers who he saw at IED camps held at Ahmedabad and Mangalore, an accused in the Lankesh case described them as “Babaji Sir”, “Circuit Expert Sir”, “Bengali” and “Lambu Sir”.’ Another suspect describes two trainers at another camp in Jalna as “Babaji” and “Guruji”; Babaji was identified as Suresh Nair.
National Investigation Agency or NIA came into being after Mumbai Attacks in 2008 and was entrusted with the job of investigating all terror cases in India. Unfortunately, after 2014, NIA has been penetrated and compromised by placing of BJP favorites in its rank and file and is exclusively being used against Muslims. There is also apparent collaboration between intelligence agencies like NIA ,IB and SIT and Saffron terror outfits like Sanatan Sanstha. Why NIA protects the terrorists like Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and given her bail to contest from Bhopal is not a mystery anymore.
Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) described Pragya Singh Thakur as one of the “principal conspirators” of the Malegaon blast which left six dead and 101 injured on September 29, 2008. The first to be arrested in the case in October 2008, Thakur currently faces charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and also stands accused of murder, attempt to murder, and of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion etc. It may be interesting to note that the Motor cycle used as the IED for Malegaon blasts was registered in the name of Pragya Singh Thakur and she along with Lt Col Prohit were prime accused working for Abhinav Bharat. Lt Col Prohit was charged with Samjhauta Express terror attack as well and if we connect the dots, it is very clear that Saffron terror in India is well orgainsed and linked with various intelligence agencies as well as Indian military.
NIA, which took over the probe from the ATS in 2011, filed its first supplementary charge sheet only in 2016, and gave Thakur a clean chit. The NIA said it had “reassessed” evidence put on record by the ATS and concluded that the motorcycle registered in Thakur’s name was not in her possession, that it was being used by Kalsangra for over two years and she was, therefore, not connected to the incident. The NIA said that other evidence included statements, all of which were retracted, so no case was made out against her.
We in Pakistan have never studied the case of Saffron Terror in India and how this state sponsored terrorism is affecting the lives of targeted minorities like Muslims and Dalits. My complain to intellectuals and opinion makers in Pakistan would be, do some research on Saffron terror and find out for yourself that it is a clear and present danger for entire South Asia, especially when these Saffron Bandits have occupied the Rajpath through sham democracy.