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Too many cooks in Hindu terror probe

Unified investigation by the NIA and trial before a single judge are necessary for justice in saffron terror cases. Varghese K George reports.Hindu extremists

delhi Updated: Feb 08, 2011 12:27 IST
Varghese K George

Eleven SIM cards and seven mobile handsets bought from five different states connected members of a terror module, the kingpin of which was an RSS pracharak from Dewas in Madhya Pradesh. According to MP police, currently investigating the case, his own men murdered the pracharak Sunil Joshi. More than 20 people, including a serving colonel, were involved in it.

The BJP has accused the Congress of unleashing investigations on Hindutva organisations, but seeing the actions of police one may rethink the issue. For instance, Rajasthan police and the CBI had decided they would not arrest any accused until all of them were traced. Abruptly, Rajasthan police picked up Devinder Gupta on April 30, 2010, but two other key accused who had been located disappeared. They are still missing.

Jealousy and one-upmanship among the agencies involved are botching the investigations. The Haryana government was quick to hand over the Samjhauta blast case to the National Investigation Authority (NIA), which coordinated well with the CBI. The CBI made the first breakthrough in the case, investigating the leads that emerged in the form of SIM cards found in Hyderabad and Ajmer.

Police in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh are perhaps acting to a plan. There police have arrested Anand Kataria and Vasudev Parmar in the Joshi murder case but are denying the CBI access to them. Both are witnesses for the CBI. Another witness has been arrested in a local murder case and kept away from central investigators. The CBI's requests for documents and interrogation reports are being stonewalled.

The actions of police in Maharashtra and Rajasthan have not been helpful, either. Repeatedly harassed by different agencies, witnesses are threatening to quit investigations. "Moreover, if these cases are put to trial separately, the defence will hair-split to find contradictions of the witnesses in individual cases. And it will be burdensome for the witnesses to go all over the country and the trial will drag for years," a government source said.

Proper investigation and conviction in these cases are fundamental to not only communal harmony in the country but even to the international reputation of India. Our intelligence agencies had jumped the gun and accused Pakistan-based Islamist groups for the Samjhauta blast. After Swami Aseemanand's confession, in strangest of ironies, Pakistan is now seeking answers from India.

Clubbing these cases under the NIA is necessary for the investigations to run professionally, say people who are tracking them. "It is the same conspiracy by the same set of people. The trial must be under a single charge sheet, before one magistrate," a source said.