By Air Commodore ® Khalid Iqbal                                                                                                                                              

While militancy is receding in Pakistan, it is phenomenally increasing in India. Indeed it is being institutionalized in a rare public-private partnership.  Pakistan’s security forces have done a commendable job to recover wide stretches of land from the jaws of terrorists. However, India is complacent about the rise of Hindu militancy directed against minorities, especially Muslims. Likewise, assaults on Christians and their property by Hindu mobs are on the rise; some gory anti-Christian incidents have taken place at various places in Andhra Pradesh, Assam Orissa and Kerala.

RAW, civil and military officials, lower judiciary and fundamentalist political parties are hand in glove in promoting a strategy of militancy to cow down the minorities and pave the way for supremacy of Hindutva. Tapped conversations of infamous Col Purohit reveal the depth of such nexus, he says, “We are all on the same plane, Hindu Rashtra (Nation)”. He even claimed that General J J Singh (a former Army Chief) is “with us”. As a cover up to rise in its home grown Hindu terrorism, India spares no opportunity for tarnishing the image of Pakistan by attributing these acts to Pakistani outfits.

Peruvian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has recently discovered that European countries are being used as hot destinations by al-Qaeda to route money to India. Wikileaks have also mentioned the flow of money from Europe through Lima to India.

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Hindu terrorism is operative over a wide canvas covering domestic and international spectrums. India has been investing heavily in its notorious agency RAW to support insurgency, separatism, extremism and terrorism in its neighbouring states like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhuttan, Sikkim and China. A sophisticated network of RAW is working to destabilise Pakistan. On domestic side, state terrorism is ruthlessly employed to impede freedom movements in Kashmir, Punjab, Assam, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Mizoram.

After the last year’s politically motivated and highly biased verdict on Babri Mosque, Indian Muslims are baffled by yet another recent

(mis) judgment given by a special court on the Godhra train burning incident. Ninety four people, mostly Muslims, were indicted in 2002 for their alleged role in the incident, when a compartment of Sabarmati Express was set on fire at Godhra railway station, near Ahmadabad.

The trial court has convicted 31 Muslims and acquitted 63; including the 70-year old Maulana Umerji, who had been named as the chief conspirator by the Special Investigation Team. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the court accepted the conspiracy theory blaming the local Muslims for torching the bogie.

This conspiracy theory was initially floated by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, within half hour of the burning of the train; he opined that conspiracy was hatched by international terrorist network, in complicity with the local Muslims through Pakistan’s ISI. This conspiracy theory was given wide publicity and was used as a sort of justification for anti Muslim riots of Gujrat which followed the burning of train.

However, at the same time, there were saner voices rejecting the conspiracy theory. Godhra collector Jayanti Ravi had ruled out the conspiracy theory. Likelihood of a conspiracy was also rejected by a judicial commission set up by former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. This inquisition was conducted by Justice Chandra Bannerjee, and it revealed that burning of coach was accidental and it was not deliberately set on fire by a Muslim mob. Moreover, investigation by ‘Hazards Centre’, specialising in forensic investigations, also rejected the likelihood of a conspiracy by Muslims.

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Mainstay of conspiracy theory has been the selling of loose petrol. There are no eye witnesses. Individuals who initially confessed of selling loose petrol could not stand the scrutiny and one of them even admitted that he was paid Rs 50,000.

Kakul Pathak was one of the key prosecution witnesses. In 2007, Pathak, unaware of the fact that he was being secretly recorded, narrated that his entire testimony was a lie manufactured by the police to implicate innocent Muslims. He stated that he and eight other BJP members, who were also made witnesses like him, were not present at the scene of crime and were actually sleeping in their beds when the train was set on fire! Though Judge set aside the testimony of these nine witnesses, calling them unreliable, yet he upheld the conspiracy theory.

Investigation by an Ahmadabad based Forensic Science Laboratory has established that almost 60 litres of inflammable material was poured from inside the compartment before it was set on fire. Report clearly says that the fire was started inside the coach and such a huge fire could not mushroom just with the petrol that was thrown from outside. This raises a question mark over the theory that the train was set alight by a Muslim mob that had gathered outside the train.

Ashsih Khetan in his recent investigative report for ‘Tehlka’ points out that there is no substance in the theory that it was a conspiracy by Muslims. He says that this whole theory is deceptive; it distracts attention from the truth of another conspiracy which was going on. Khetan’s investigation makes it clear that the real conspiracy was not by the Muslims. Khetan points out “That there was a conspiracy afoot in Gujarat those years is beyond doubt…It was a conspiracy by the State machinery to blacken one community’s name. And declare them the enemy.”

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Godhra was chosen for the climax of drama because this town has highly dense Muslim population. When the train reached Godhra railway station, all kar sevaks came out of train and started to have tea and snacks, at a small tea stall run by an old Muslim man and his young daughter. Kar sevaks beat the old man and abducted his daughter; they took her inside their compartment.  As the train started to move out of the platform of Godhra railway station, two stall vendors jumped into the last bogey, pulled the chain and stopped the train. When the train stopped, a 2000 strong mob gathered around it. These people were Hindu extremists in the guise of Muslims, who apparently came for the rescue of girl but their real purpose was to throw gasoline and burning rags on the train. These people threw burning rags on the train to ignite the inflammables already placed inside the train. As a result, a huge fire broke out in the train.

Muslim community is taking the legal battle to the higher courts considering that police and lower judiciary in India, particularly in Gujarat, are well known for their communal inclinations. Earlier Malegaon, Samjhota Express and Ajmer blast were blamed on Muslims but recently an activist of RSS, Aseemanand Swami, has confessed his own and his organization’s involvement in these incidents. Soon we may hear similar version about burning of Sabarmati Express, which is up till now blamed on Muslims.