Even as commandos were getting into the Taj and the Oberoi hotels on the morning of November 27, 2008, and we had no idea who had mounted the 26/11 attacks, I (and at least 30 other journalists) received a highly misleading, misguided and misplaced e-mail: that the RSS had mounted the 26/11 attacks and killed the then Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare.
Karkare, it is true, had become a hero among Indian Muslims for his meticulous investigation of the Malegaon blasts and his uncovering of the role of socalled ‘Hindu’ terrorists in the case. I recall elections were happening in Delhi at the time and these misguided individuals meant to impute motives to the BJP: that it had conspired with the RSS to mount the attacks to win some polls in states far removed from Bombay.
I’m no camp follower of the saffron brigade. But even I found those allegations preposterous. I lost no time in replying to the sender of that mail telling him that his head was screwed on quite the wrong way round and that he should have at least waited until we knew all the facts. He responded by saying two terrorists at the Cama Hospital had been overheard speaking Marathi and that proved beyond doubt the RSS’s involvement.
I was on the board of Cama Hospital at the time and I soon ascertained for myself that nothing of the kind had happened. Meanwhile, we learnt that the previous night an unknown sub-inspector called Tukaram Omble had given his life to catch one of the terrorists alive — he held Ajmal Kasab in a death grip even as the terrorist emptied bullets into his stomach, until his colleagues got to them and prised them apart. The rest, as they say, is history.
Omble has, of course, been posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra. But I’d like to see him get the Bharat Ratna. Because, but for him Pakistan's role in terrorism wouldn’t have been exposed internationally, the misguided individuals who imputed motives to the RSS would have ended up misleading the country, and terrorists from across the border would have been merrily mounting attacks on India without fear of retribution.
It is true that the Abhinav Bharat has been involved in blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer and probably even the Samjhauta Express. But I have faith in the Indian system—not just the judiciary but even the police. After all, the Maharashtra ATS did get those involved in Malegaon, the Rajasthan Police have got those who mounted the attacks in Ajmer, the Goa Police, too, have hauled up people linked to the Abhinav Bharat, and even the Gujarat investigators are now getting cops involved in fake encounters mounted on non-terrorists merely to curry favour with Narendra Modi.
But these groups who wanted us to believe that the RSS mounted 26/11 is now pillorying us with messages that ATS chief Rakesh Maria framed another 26/11 accused, Fahim Ansari. ‘Rakesh Maria fails to entrap innocent Ansari; judge says entire evidence fabricated’ (he said nothing of the kind) is part of the text message sent out to many of us on Monday. But they have also been besieging Maria for days with messages asking him to follow the “good” examples of Karkare and the Rajasthan Police and the reason for their ire is simply that Maria has had tremendous success cracking the 1993 blasts case where several ‘Islamists’ were involved (how I hate to use that classification for a terrorist but they leave me with no choice!) and even more recent cases where, well, once again the Abhinav Bharat had no role to play.
And now they are even targeting journalists who do not agree with them, calling them police khabris et al. (They have named one nationally well-reputed journalist in an sms message to hundreds of us.) Is there no lawthat can prevent such cyber defamation and, more importantly, the misinformation they resort to that, clearly, is not in our national interest?
And now these groups are even targeting journalists who do not agree with them, calling them police khabris et al.