Mumbai, September 05 (KMS): A former senior functionary of Rashtriya Swayansevak Sangh (RSS) has moved an application before a special Central Bureau of Investigation court stating that several senior right-wing Hindu leaders were directly involved in the bomb explosion that occurred at a residence of Nanded-based RSS worker in Indian state of Maharashtra in 2006.
The applicant, Yashwant Shinde, was an RSS worker for close to 25 years and also had associations with other ultra-right-wing Hindu groups like the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal. He has said that over three years before the blast, a senior VHP worker had informed him about a terror training camp that was underway to carry out blasts across India.
The Nanded bomb explosion took place on the intervening night of April 4 and 5, 2006. It was one of the three explosions that occurred in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra in the span of a few years. The the other two blasts happened in Parbhani in 2003 and in Purna in 2004.
The CBI, which took over the case from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, has claimed that the blast occurred accidentally at the residence of one Laxman Rajkondwar, an RSS worker. Rajkondwar’s son Naresh and Himanshu Panse, a VHP activist, were killed while assembling the bomb. The investigating agencies believe that the bomb would have been used to target a mosque in Aurangabad.
Shinde said that he knew Panse since 1999, when the latter was working as a full-time VHP worker in Goa. At a meeting in 1999, Shinde said that Panse and seven of his friends had agreed to undergo weapons training in Jammu. This training, Shinde says, was imparted by Indian Army soldiers.
Shinde is not a prosecution witness in the case. But he says to have come forward finally because he couldn’t stay silent anymore. In a media interview, he said, “I spent the past 16 years convincing every RSS leader, including Mohan Bhagwat, to take action against those involved in the terror activities. No one paid heed to my pleas. So here I am, before the court, willing to depose everything that I have known for so long.”
Advocate Sangameshwar Delmade, who represents Shinde in the Nanded court, said, “…. He (Shinde) told me (the lawyer) that there was a threat to his life all along. And now he has reached a point where his conscience doesn’t allow him to stay quiet”.
Shinde, according to his affidavit, joined the RSS when he was 18. He is 49 now. “I have had to distance myself from all these Hindu organisations now. They are no longer working for the Hindu cause. They are mere puppets in the hands of the ruling party,” he said.
In his affidavit, Shinde has named three persons – including an accused person from the Malegaon 2008 blast case – of having participated in arms training and bomb-making training in Sinhagad in Pune. “I didn’t approve of the terror activities. Yet I participated in the conspiracy only to know who all are involved in the terror training,” Shinde said.
The early 2000s blast cases in Maharashtra were some of the first instances where persons from the Hindu community were associated with terror activities. Subsequent blasts in Hyderabad’s Mecca masjid (2007), Ajmer sharif dargah (2007) and Malegaon (2008) were also allegedly conducted by workers of extremist right-wing groups. In 2010, then home minister P. Chidambaram famously branded terrorist activities of radical Hindutva groups as “saffron terror“.
The court, lawyer Delmade said, has sent a summons to both the CBI lawyer (public prosecutor) and the accused and has sought their responses by September 22.
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