Friday, January 7, 2011

THE SAMJAUTA EXPRESS EXPLOSION: THE FOLLOW-UP

B.RAMAN

"According to American investigators, the LET (Lashkar-e-Toiba) and Al Qaeda were responsible for the Samjauta Express blast and the HUJI( Harkatul-Jihad-Al-Islami) for the Mecca Masjid blast (in Hyderabad).If the American investigators, who have better sources in Pakistan, are correct, how can our investigators claim that some arrested Hindus were responsible for these incidents? Justice and fairplay demand a thorough investigation into the two different versions that have emerged from Indian and American investigators. While the American investigators have blamed the LET, Al Qaeda and the HUJI, Indian investigators have blamed the Abhinav Bharat. Both cannot be correct." So I wrote in an article of August 7,2010, titled ARREST OF SOME HINDUS AS TERRORISTS: CURIOUSER & CURIOUSER at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers40%5Cpaper3971.html .

2.Since then, there has been a significant development in the investigation of the case relating to the explosion on the night of February 18,2007, in the Samjauta Express, a twice-weekly train service connecting Delhi and Lahore. There were 68 fatalities. While most of them were poor Pakistani nationals returning home after visiting their relatives in India, some Indian nationals were also killed. The incident took place a day before the then Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri was to arrive in New Delhi to resume peace talks, which were disrupted as a result of the explosion.

3.The case has not yet been fully investigated. The investigation was initially being handled by the Haryana Police without much progress, but was subsequently taken over by the newly-created National Investigation Agency (NIA), which came into being after the Mumbai terrorist strikes of 26/11 by the LET. According to media reports, Swami Aseemanand alias Jatin Chatterjee alias Swami Onkarnath, said to be an activist of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), who has been arrested and was being interrogated in police custody, has confessed to a magistrate about his role along with some other activists in the explosions at Malegaon in Maharashtra,Ajmer Sharif, a Sufi shrine in Rajasthan, the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and the Samjauta Express. He is reported to have described them as acts of retaliation against Muslims triggered off by the attacks by jihadi terrorists in the Akshardam temple in Ahmedabad in 2002 and in the Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi in 2006. His confessional statement has reportedly been recorded by the Magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) after following procedural formalities as laid down under the law to remove any effect of police pressure on him to confess. One of these formalities is to transfer him from police to magisterial custody for some time before recording his confession. Since he made the confession even after any possible police pressure on him was removed, it will be taken as a voluntary confession made without any pressure on him and with the full knowledge of the implications of his confession. This confession will remain an important piece of evidence unless subsequently, under the advice of his lawyer or on his own, he retracts from it.

4. Generally, courts do not convict a person on the basis of a confessional statement made to a magistrate unless independently corroborated by other evidence. The NIA has to collect further independent evidence---particularly about the others involved, the details of the training given, the procurement of the explosive material, the fabrication of the improvised explosive devices (IED) and their actual planting. But the significance of the voluntary confessional statement is that it will have greater credibility than the intelligence collected by the American investigators. What the Americans have collected is intelligence, which may or may not be correct. What the NIA has obtained is a confessional statement under the law by a suspect, which will be presumed to be correct unless proved otherwise by evidence adduced by the defence. The defence can still adduce the US reports blaming the LET, the HUJI and Al Qaeda to convince the trial court that it should not rely on the confessional statement, but it will be up to the court to decide on the acceptability of the confession.

5. The confession points the needle of suspicion for the first time at some extremist elements in the Hindu community supporting the Hindutva ideology for organising the explosion on the train. It cannot be brushed aside as of no value or as the result of a political conspiracy to malign the Hindutva groups. The value at present is limited till corroborative evidence is obtained, but it is an important break-through in the investigation.

6. The confession would create embarrassment both for the Indian investigating agencies and for the Hindutva groups. The investigating agencies will be embarrassed because they were initially projecting the train explosion as the work of Pakistan-inspired jihadi terrorists. The Hindutva groups will be embarrassed because the suspects who have come to notice so far in respect of all these four incidents were known supporters of the Hindutva ideology. Despite the embarrassment, the Indian investigating agencies should press ahead with the investigation till they come to a logical conclusion facilitating the prosecution of those arrested. We should not create an impression that we follow double standards----by condemning terrorism emanating from Pakistan and the Indian Muslim community and acting firmly against it and by playing down terrorism emanating from sections of the Hindu community. ( 8-1-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

5 comments:

Esoteric said...

We all agree that terror should not be assumed to be a preserve of one community.

Confession of a accused cannot be just wished away just like circumstantial evidence cannot be ignored.

However,its not a coincidence that the arrests,confessions and progress in investigation is being made at a curious time.The Govt has lost support across the social and political spectrum and is feeling the pressure.

Govt has been happy to go to foreign countries and agree to peace with Pakistan and that after the Pakistani foreign office has correctly predicted a few dyas before it happens..a change of heart of the Indian side on how to proceed after 26/11.

Whatever we know about 'Hindu terror' will make one believe its a rag tag army of recruits who have no worthwhile training and do not compare with Jihadis in any way in terms of motivation,funds or leadership.There is no religious basis akin to Jihad for such extremism to take deep roots except recruit some people unhappy with policies that are counter to democracy (majoritarianism).

If the opposition backs down on the 2G scam this case will be soon forgotten and dustbinned to be opened when some other elements of the govt or ruling party are exposed.If this was such a serious threat then why hasnt the Govt gone after it with more gusto....thats because its just being used for political leverage.

Digvijay Singh,Samjhauta,Sibalisation(loud noise making to drown protests against scamsters) are all political strategies to survive the revelations of the last 6 months.

Here's a bet I want to make....they wont survive it...by dec 2012..all of them might be behind bars.All of them.

ambi said...

actually bihar elec ve shaken confidance of sonia to the core. she is at loss to understand how come muslims can vote bjp alliance. as this govt ll fall any time, she ll do everything to scare muslims. with all state machinery working for u n party influ xinhua reporters like pronoy rui, barkha deng, vir jiabao, rajdeep shengdong, ashutosh liu, nikhil wong n others to parrot party line, her propaganda is effective. still she has cracked really big jokes n lord krishna is going to laugh at her n congress

AjaiJose said...

The CBI are paid henchmen of the congress. Narco analysis of the moslem suspects arrested in Hyderabad had proved their connivance.

The Pakistanis are having the last laugh due to our Italian Rasputin controlled Prime minion.

Raman analysis is indicating to hindu terror groups. but in the previous articles had mentioned loss in credibility of CBI.

How then can he justify this as valid points vis-a-vis american analysis ?

Anjaneya said...

I find it curious that an "important breakthrough" was made at exactly the time when Congress is on the ropes due to its involvement in various scams. I see this more as a diversionary tactic employed in order to not only distract the public but also pressurise the BJP that they could be next implicated in some similar incident.

Arun said...

CBI let Italian mafia go free , but going after RSS by selective leaks. CBI is a political tool in Sonia’s Hand. By linking RSS on terror plot, and threading to ban it, Congress playing several political game at the same time.
1. Sending message to BJP not to go too far on corruption charges against Govt. and JPC. Action against RSS is weapon against BJP.
2. Solidifying minority vote back by acting against RSS, and but not hanging real terrorists (against court order).
3. Driving wedge between BJP and other opposition parties, so that opposition is split.
4. Pleasing communists, in case their support is needed, now or later.
5. Curbing RSS also helps in missionaries conversion activates. Internationals conspirators like John Dayal is trying to crush RSS for long time and people like him have strongly influence on Sonia and Rahul because of their Christian root.