Crime and no punishment: Malegaon blast accused get a respite

By Ram Puniyani,

Eleven suspects of Malegaon blast, September 9, 2008, got a breather (August 01, 2009) when the special court dropped the charges under MCCOA against 11 suspects of the crime. Prosecution failed to show that all accused were member of a single organized crime syndicate. This MCOCA act also requires that there should be two previous charge sheets against one of them. Since the case prepared by police could not prove these the charges have been dropped. The ATS and Maharashtra Chief Minister have stated that they will ensure that they will go to the higher courts, against the order of this court decision. In past Congress has not undertaken any serious efforts to punish the guilty, so this statement of the authorities has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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MCCOA apart, the overall scenario and line of investigation followed by police has left lot of ground uncovered which can come handy for the culprits getting away lightly if the police does not do its home work well. There may also be deeper political dimensions to the issue as well. The first point which struck the observers so far was that for a long time police line of investigation in the blast cases was based on the premise that some Muslim group is involved in the crime. This created two problems. One was that the innocents kept getting arrested and tortured and second that the real culprits could hide under the cover provided by the popular perception about terrorism. The vicious cycle was broken by Hemant Karakre with the impeccable evidence in the form of the Motor cycle of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur from the crowded lane of Malegaon. Her link led to several people and many organizations. The people involved were Swami Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Puroit, Ajay Rahirar, retired Major Ramesh Upadhayay, Rakesh Dhavade and many others. The connections with Abhinva Bharat, Hindu Jagran Samiti, Army units, Bhonsala Military School (Nagpur and Nashik), Akanksha Resort Sinhgad all emerged and the picture of a broad conspiracy became clear.

The investigating officer, Hemant Karkare, about whose death in 26/11 terror attack, Antulay raised certain questions, faced immense pressure due to criticism from Hindu right wingers, Thackeray’s paper Saamana went on to say that they spit on the face of such a anti-national person like Karkare, and some others also called him as Deshdrohi. One does not know what direct/indirect impact all this had on the future drafting of the charge sheet. Human Rights activist Teesta Setalvad in her articles in Communalism Combat Feb 2009 raised several questions about the charge sheet, which remain unanswered.

One recalls that the Nanded blast (April 2006) case investigation itself was very much muted and it was only the pressure of campaign form Rights activists that the investigation was pursued. Rakesh Dhawade, one of the accused in the Malegaon charge sheet had confessed to his involvement in the training of few youth, for the preparation and detonation of bombs. The training was done near the Sinhgad Fort, Pune, in July-August 2003. Despite this he was allowed to be discharged from the Purbea masjid blast case on July 27, 2009! ATS says it was because the local police did not file a strong enough charge sheet! One does not know whether it is a lack of coordination or there is something deeper to this?

It is beyond one’s comprehension as to why section 125, waging war against the Indian Nation, has not been applied to these accused. In this case the involvement of the serving military officers and the retired ones has not been probed. It has ramifications far deeper then can be seen from the surface. These military officers had the background of Bhonsla Military School, which is practically controlled by RSS. The RSS has its wing for retired military personnel and has a lot of emphasis on cultivating connections with men in uniform. The theft of 60 Kilograms of RDX by Purohit is a pointer of what the serving and military officers can do once they are ideologically indoctrinated by the notions other than that of secular democratic India. Purohit in his narco analysis on 9th November 2008 had revealed about his role in Samjhauta Express blast and a possible role Mecca Masjid blast.

There are multiple aspects of the case involved. One does not support MCCOA at all, it is not only arbitrary and draconian; it also is a refuge for police not to undertake the trouble for deeper investigation and doing its home work properly. Even if one does not trust the narco analysis, there are enough other evidences to link up all these accused indoctrinated by RSS ideology. The point is why so many links which are there for all to see are not followed? Why resort to the short cut of MCOCA, or Narco analysis.

The core point is the biases of the state apparatus, political, bureaucratic and that of police in particular which has resulted in evolution of two sets of justice delivery systems. One is for the affluent and privileged that can get away with whatever they want and the second is for the weaker sections, including minorities. Here right from the police investigation to the charge sheeting, the political influence and biases which influence the process of justice delivery (or the lack of it) and the final verdict all are having a tinge of bias.

The political polices do determine the whole process. It is such outcomes which make a section of population feel that they are used merely as vote banks and when the time of justice comes they are not considered at all. If the culprits of Malegaon are treated with kid gloves under the theory that violence from Hindu fold is retaliatory that will be the travesty of justice of the worst order.