Investigations by the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka police forces have revealed that a series of public hackings of prominent right-wing Hindu leaders, which have occurred in different parts of Tamil Nadu over the past two years, were terrorist operations involving meticulous planning.
As many as six prominent right-wing leaders associated with BJP or its Sangh affiliates have been killed in Vellore, Ramanathapuram, Salem, Madurai and Chennai, while there have been as many murder attempts on other right-wing leaders since October 12, 2012.
The murders are now being linked to remnants of the banned radical Islamist terror group, Al Ummah, which emerged in Tamil Nadu in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition and was charged in the 1998 Coimbatore bombings that left 58 dead.
For the first five killings, a special investigation team of the Tamil Nadu police’s CB-CID unit has chargesheeted three men who were on the periphery of Al Ummah activities in the past — Police Fakruddin, 36 (nicknamed Police because his father was a policeman); Panna Ismail, 39; and Bilal Malik, 26. The three were arrested in October 2013 in a joint operation by the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh police from Chennai and Puttur near Chittoor.
For the sixth and the latest killing — on June 18 in Chennai — two 24-year-old men, Mohammed Shameem and Syed Ali Nawaz, who are linked to Al Ummah operatives associated with communal crimes in Tamil Nadu, were arrested on August 6 in Bangalore.
Given the crude nature of the murders, the Tamil Nadu police had initially blamed the first two killings — the October 10, 2012, murder of BJP medical wing secretary V Arvind Reddy in Vellore, and the March 19, 2013, murder of BJP ex-councillor K Murugan in Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram — on personal rivalries. The Vellore police initially blamed local gangsters, already in their custody, for the killing of Reddy while the Ramanathapuram police initially blamed a land dispute and a distant relative of Murugan for his death.
It was not until July 2013 when three more murders occurred and the BJP, RSS and its national leadership began asserting pressure that authorities in Tamil Nadu began to suspect a pattern behind the killings.
Following the July 19, 2013, hacking of BJP state general secretary V Ramesh alias Auditor Ramesh in Salem, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa ordered a CB-CID probe into the killings. “Initially there was no suspicion that the killings involved anything more than local enmities. Only after the case was handed to the CB-CID did a different picture emerge,” a Tamil Nadu police officer said.
Although it was the end of July 2013 when the CB-CID zeroed in on former Al Ummah members as the perpetrators of the murders in Tamil Nadu, an older probe by the Bangalore police into a bomb blast that occurred outside the BJP’s city headquarters on April 17, 2013, had already zeroed in on the re-emergence of Al Ummah remnants on the terror front. Following leads from the purchase of a second-hand motorcycle used to plant an IED near continued…