The story goes back to Nanded town, 650 km from Mumbai, where an explosion took place on the night of April 5, 2006, in the house of a retired PWD executive engineer, Laxman Gundayya Rajkondwar. Rajkondwar’s son Naresh and a friend, Himanshu Panse, died on the spot. Four accomplices—Maroti Keshav Wagh, Yogesh Deshpande (alias Vidulkar), Gururaj Jairam Tuptewar and Rahul Manohar Pande—were seriously injured.
The initial FIR stated that the cause was a lit cigarette accidentally falling on firecrackers but the police later said it was a pipe-bomb that exploded. Subsequent investigations revealed that the dead and the injured were workers of the Bajrang Dal, and that they had executed blasts in mosques at different places in central Maharashtra.
“We had collected undeniable evidence that showed that the men we had arrested were associated with the Bajrang Dal,” says Additional Director General (Railways) K.P. Raghuvanshi, who was then the state ATS chief. Sixteen men were arrested.
Laxman Rajkondwar was found to be an RSS activist.
According to the ATS chargesheet in the case, those involved in assembling the bomb at Nanded had executed three earlier blasts—at the Mohammadiya Masjid in Parbhani (November 2003), at the Quadriya Masjid in Jalna (August 2004) and at the Meraj-ul-Uloom Madrassa/Masjid in Purna, Parbhani district (August 2004).
The bomb being assembled in Nanded was to have been planted at a mosque in Aurangabad.
In the Parbhani case, a report by the ATS to the magistrate stated that the accused were ‘kattar Hindutvavaadi’ who recruited young Hindu men to support their cause by citing cow slaughter, attacks on Hindu temples and the murder of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits.
While trials in these blasts continued, extremist Hindus were once again arrested for terror earlier this year. On June 16, the ATS arrested Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari (50) and Mangesh Dinkar Nikam (34), both members of a Hindu revivalist organisation called the Sanatan Sanstha and its associated organisation, the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, in connection with crude bombs planted at performance venues in Vashi and Thane, on Mumbai’s outskirts.
On September 29, the Malegaon and Modasa blasts took place. Investigations into these blasts have now thrown up unlikely names and unusual suspects—the sadhvi, a student group member and a retired army official.
The remand applications produced in court showing the arrests of Shivnarayansingh Kalsangram (36), Shyam Bhavarlal Sahu (42) and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur mention as evidence a bike and 400 minutes of recorded conversation between the Sadhvi and Sahu immediately after the Malegaon blast.
The link between Retired Army Major Ramesh Upadhyay and ABVP member Sameer Kulkarni is a Pune-based group founded by Upadhyay, named Abhinav Bharat. Upadhyay is believed to have met the sadhvi and Kulkarni in a series of meetings, one of them the Bhonsale School.
While organisations like the Hindu Jagran Manch and the Sanatan Sanstha have been propagating ‘self-defence’ to Hindus, officers say training in arms are common among some groups.
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