An investigation into the theft of a police file on a 2004 grenade attack on a mosque in Jammu has gone cold. In this case too, the NIA had blamed Hindu extremists, including two held in the Malegaon blasts case and currently in judicial custody.
The grenade attack on a Friday prayer gathering at the Ahle Hadees mosque in Peer Mitha on January 9, 2004, had left two J&K officials dead and 19 injured. The Jammu police had initially blamed a small militant outfit, Tehreek-ul Mujahideen, and arrested 108 people. In 2005, the case was closed as “untraced”.
Seven years later, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had said Rajendra Chaudhary and Dhan Singh, arrested in connection with the 2007 Samjhauta Express attack and the 2008 Malegaon blasts, were behind the attack. In December 2012, an NIA team had questioned two youths from Kanachak in Jammu.
In the light of the NIA disclosures, a re-investigation was ordered, but it never took off because the J&K Police said that the original case file had been “stolen”.
Last month, special public prosecutor Rohini Salian had told The Indian Express that she was asked to “go soft” in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case by an NIA officer after the change of government at the Centre.
“The NIA asked for the evidence that we had collected from the spot immediately after the mosque grenade blasts,” a senior officer of the J&K Police said. He said he issued orders for a re-investigation, only to be told that the case file had been stolen from the police station. “A deputy superintendent of police was asked to investigate the theft,” he said.
No progress has been made since. “It’s in cold storage,” the officer said.
Director General of J&K Police K Rajendra said he was “surprised” when he got to know that the file was lost. He declined comment on the current status of the case.
PDP leader and J&K Revenue Minister Javaid Mustafa Mir, who was minister of state for power in 2004, was present in the mosque at the time of the attack. He said he knew who had hurled the grenades. “I know it very well. But what can I do about it?’’
As per the NIA, in a “disclosure statement”, Rajendra Chaudhary had said that in 2001 he had met Sunil Joshi, then a pracharak in Mhow, at Depalpur in Indore district of Madhya Pradesh. “Sunil Joshi… asked me to do something for Hindus and the country. I readily agreed to lay down my life for the Hindu cause. He said Hindus are facing atrocities in Kashmir due to Muslim terrorism… we both came to Jammu by train. We visited Vaishno Devi temple and thereafter Sunilji took me to a room near Purkhu village, Jammu. It was a big ground with a room where two persons, namely Chanderkant Patil and Dhan Singh of Hatod, were already staying,” Chaudhary allegedly told the NIA.
“Dhan Singh told me he had come to the camp around two months ago. Sunilji left Jammu after dropping me there. We, three, stayed in that room at Purkhu camp for about three months… Patil showed us two hand grenades kept in his suitcase and asked us to explode them. Along with Dhan Singh and Patil, I went to the mosque at Peer Meetha (around 15 km from our place) by bus. They told me to wait at the local bus stop and went to the mosque. After hurling grenades (I heard the sound of explosion), they both came running to the bus stand. I later came to know that due to that explosion, two persons had been killed and a few injured. Along with Dhan Singh, I returned to Indore, leaving Patil in Jammu,” Chaudhary reportedly said.
The NIA claimed that, in his statement, Dhan Singh said: “Along with Patil, I went to the masjid. After removing pins from the hand grenades, both of us threw hand grenades on the namazis… After that incident, I along with Rajendra came back to Indore and Patil stayed back.’’
According to the FIR lodged at the Peer Mitha police station, Abdul Rashid Khan, junior assistant in the law department, and Mohammad Shafi, junior assistant in the animal husbandry department — both from Natipora in Srinagar — were killed while 19 were injured when the two grenades were hurled.
The family of Abdul Rashid Khan couldn’t be traced but Asha Begum, mother of Mohammad Shafi, told The Indian Express: “We were told by police and the government that the attack was done by militants and was meant to kill a minister.”
She added, “It took me a long time to believe that my son was dead… I never took up the fight for him. I had no idea who to fight with, who to ask why they killed my son.”