ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Portents of Nanded

Portents of Nanded

On April 6, a bomb went off in the house of a retired irrigation department official, an RSS activist, in Nanded, killing two young people who were found to be Bajrang Dal members and injuring three others. Swift action taken by the police initially, which unearthed a sinister plot, lost momentum in a few days and even local newspapers stopped reporting on the incident. A fact-finding report gave lie to the claim that the blast was due to the sudden bursting of firecrackers in the house. The rest of the state remained largely ignorant of the incident. What is the reason for the silence that has been dutifully maintained over a bomb explosion in a communally sensitive city involving an outfit of the Sangh parivar?

Portents of Nanded

Bajrang Dal and the Bomb?

On April 6, a bomb went off in the house of a retired irrigation department official, an RSS activist, in Nanded, killing two young people who were found to be Bajrang Dal members and injuring three others. Swift action taken by the police initially, which unearthed a sinister plot, lost momentum in a few days and even local newspapers stopped reporting on the incident. A fact-finding report gave lie to the claim that the blast was due to the sudden bursting of firecrackers in the house. The rest of the state remained largely ignorant of the incident. What is the reason for the silence that has been dutifully maintained over a bomb explosion in a communally sensitive city involving an outfit of

the Sangh parivar?

SUBHASH GATADE

IIIII

I
t was on April 6, 1.30 am when residents of Patbandhare Nagar (residential colony of the employees of the irrigation department), a relatively welloff area in Nanded, Marathwada woke up to a bomb explosion in their very midst. The site of the blast was the house of a retired employee of the department, who also happened to be associated with a Hindutva organisation for a long time. One could see white smoke bellowing out of the house. Window panes of the house had metamorphosed into flying objects and were lying around 40 feet away. But this was only part of the story. The explosion had snuffed out the lives of two young people. While Himanshu Panse was found to be blown into pieces, with his hands and legs literally scattered, Naresh, son of the houseowner, succumbed to injuries in the chest. Three young men who were later admitted to a hospital had suffered serious body injuries.

Interestingly, the context of the mishap, which occurred in a communally sensitive city on the eve of L K Advani’s sojourn through Maharashtra while on his nationwide ‘Bharat Suraksha Yatra’, was there for everyone to see. It had been more than a week that this city of around a million people was reeling under communal tension. The alleged elopement of a Sikh girl with a Muslim boy had put both the communities at loggerheads and the bomb explosion in an area with a predominantly Hindu population was highly disturbing. It was not easy for the administration to consider the whole incident a localised action – it smacked of deeper conspiracy, which needed to be unearthed.

Apprehending serious trouble, the district administration of Nanded swung into action and swiftly unearthed a sinister plot, which appeared to be stranger than fiction. It not only discovered another live bomb in the same house, a raid on the deceased Himanshu’s house yielded many significant clues. The police caught hold of maps of different mosques and also a few dresses normally worn by Muslims of the area. It found a collection of “Muslim” caps as well. The maps and the presence of “Muslim” dresses in the house of a man who belonged to the “lunatic fringe” of a Hindutva formation sent shivers down the spine of the police. After all what was the gameplan of the group that was engaged in storing and making a bomb?

IIIIIIIIII

Part of the Nizam’s state till its annexation, Nanded has a history of communal tensions that has been aggravated since the demolition of the Babri mosque. While Hindus comprise the majority (five lakh), Muslims have the secondlargest population (two lakh) while Sikhs have the third (one lakh). Nanded has achieved fame world over since it happens to be the place that houses the ‘samadhi’ of the last of the Sikh gurus, Guru Govind Singh. It was only two and a half years

Economic and Political Weekly May 27, 2006 back that communal riots visited the city when a group of miscreants riding a motorcycle had thrown bombs at a large congregation of Muslims assembled for their Friday prayers in Parbhani, a city not very far from Nanded. While embers at Parbhani had died down soon, it took time for the police to control the situation in other cities and towns in Marathwada then, including Nanded. The miscreants who had thrown bombs at the congregation could never be found and till date it remains a mystery who executed the plan.

Reporting on the bomb explosion a writeup in Mid-Day, April 9, 2006 said:

In what could prove to be a huge embarrassment on the eve of Lal Krishna Advani’s Bharat Suraksha Yatra in Maharashtra, police officials in Nanded said Bajrang Dal activists were actually making a bomb before a bomb exploded in an activist’s house. What’s more, police officials have also recovered another bomb from the site and have diffused it on Saturday. …One of the investigating officers, police inspector Shrikant Mahajan said that preliminary investigations have shown that Naresh and Himanshu were members of Bajrang Dal. “We have got information that they were office bearers of Bajrang Dal from time to time and used to attend their meetings”, said Mahajan. Mahajan said the blast was very powerful and that only the concrete structure survived, but everything else in the house was destroyed. He added that both the bombs were powerful devices. Officials added that the recovery of the second bomb meant the people assembled in the house were preparing the bomb when the first one went off.

Corroborating the incident, The Telegraph (April 10, 2006) had very similar things to report. According to the correspondent:

Bajrang Dal activists were involved in last week’s bomb blast in Maharashtra in which two people died, police have confirmed. The incident could prove to be an embarrassment for Lal Krishna Advani whose yatra, ironically called Bharat Suraksha, entered the state today since the Bajrang Dal is an associate of the Sangh parivar. “Bajrang Dal activists were actually making a bomb before one exploded in an activist’s house”, said a senior police officer… “We have seized another bomb from the same site on Saturday which has now been defused”, said another police official.

The reaction of the state Bajrang Dal chief to the bomb explosion is worth quoting, The Telegraph, April 10, 2006:

State Bajrang Dal chief Shankar Gaikwad denied that the dead belonged to his party. “My local functionaries have told me that it was not a bomb explosion at all. Some crackers caught fire and resulted in the death of two and serious injuries to some others. But none of the dead was from the Bajrang Dal.” The police sources said that such a huge explosion could not have been caused by fire-crackers.

Interestingly, the swift action by the police initially lost momentum within the next few days. Even the newspapers stopped reporting the aftermath of the incident. The authorities had more official answers ready: the constant media coverage would impact the investigations. Looking at the changed attitude of the administration, one could not find a single editorial on this important topic. As far as the administration was concerned, it had many pressing concerns waiting to be dealt with: Ambedkar Jayanti, Mahaveer Jayanti and Hanuman Jayanti – days to remember the revered or the divine ones of different communities were already to be taken care of and supposedly the administration did not want to take any chances with the maintenance of law and order.

Thus a big bomb explosion in a house belonging to a man who happens to be part of a Hindutva formation, which pointed towards a larger conspiracy, just vanished from the pages of even local newspapers. Interestingly, the phenomenon of localisation of news has reached such tremendous proportions that the whole episode could not even spill over to the state’s media. The rest of the state remained largely ignorant of this incident. A fact-finding report prepared by a civil liberties organisation from Nagpur further corroborates this.

IIIIIIIIIIIIIII

A fact-finding report ‘Nanded Bomb Blast Report’ brought out by PUCL, Nagpur and Secular Citizen’s Forum (Dharam Nirapeksha Nagrik Manch, DNNM), Nagpur is based on a field visit by members of the team and tries to throw light on many new dimensions of the episode. The three-member team comprised of Suresh Khairnar, convener (DNNM and PUCL, Nagpur), Ahmad Kadar and Arvind Ghosh who visited Nanded on April 22, 2006. (The complete report can be found on www.pucl.org)

The participants in the team are frank enough to admit that “...[b]omb blasts at the house of a RSS activist at Nanded was not reported in any newspaper outside Nanded. We in Nagpur came to know about the blasts

PrPrPrPrPr
ofofofofof
essor M.essor M.essor M.essor M.essor M.
N.N.N.N.N.
SrinivSrinivSrinivSrinivSriniv
as Memorial Prizas Memorial Prizas Memorial Prizas Memorial Prizas Memorial Priz
e 2006e 2006e 2006e 2006e 2006

Indian Sociological Society Institute of Social Sciences 8 Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj New Delhi 110 070

The Professor M. N. Srinivas Endowment Fund was jointly set up by the Indian Sociological Society and the Indian Council of Social Science Research in 2001. This Fund has instituted a prize for young sociologists/social anthropologists for publishing the best sociological/social anthropological paper in any of the social science journals/edited volumes, in English, in India. The prize will carry a sum of Rs. 2,000.

Papers published during 01 January 2003-31 December 2005 are eligible for consideration. The authors, who are life members or ordinary members of the Society with at least one year’s standing, will be eligible for the contest. The author must be 40 years or less in age on 31 December 2005. If the paper is co-authored, all the authors must be 40 years or less in age on 31 December 2005. The authors will submit only one paper for consideration.

A reprint of the paper along with photocopies of the title page of the journal/edited volume and age proof must reach the office of Indian Sociological Society on or before 31 August 2006. The typewritten/handwritten/computer print-out manuscript will not be accepted. Besides the authors, other scholars are also welcome to bring suitable papers to the notice of the selection committee for consideration.

Economic and Political Weekly May 27, 2006

through a Mumbai-based activist.” The report also vividly exposes the claim that the blast occurred due to the sudden bursting of crackers stored in the house. It tells us:

…[i]f crackers catch fire there would normally be a series of bursts and not a single powerful blast as had happened in this case. Moreover the house did not catch fire as is expected in an accident involving crackers. The cracker theory was blasted on April 7 at 4 pm when the post mortem report was released. The report revealed that bomb parts were found and extracted from the bodies of the dead.

The report further shares some information about the accused. According to it:

Suryapratap Gupta IG, Nanded has confirmed that a live pipe bomb was found at the house of Laxman Rajkondwar and that all the accused are connected with Bajrang Dal. He has also gone on record saying Rajkondwar’s house was a centre for manufacturing of bombs. However the police has maintained silence on the motive for the manufacturing of bombs at Rajkondwar’s house, wherefrom they acquired the material for making the bombs and if the perpetrators of the crime had nationwide connections.

For the team:

…the most worrying fact that has been revealed is that the live bomb discovered under the sofa is an IED type sophisticated bomb with [a] timer and operated through remote control. A supplier of chemical material to colleges has been questioned in this regard. It is also reported the accused had been arrested during the Ayodhya Ram Mandir episode. The police after the initial revelation is now keeping mum over the incident and have not revealed much even to the local press. They have instructed the press not to write much about the incident since that would affect the course of police investigation.

The report ends with a note:

This report remains inconclusive due to the lack of availability of authentic information from official sources, although there exist strong indications that deep communal conspiracies were being hatched by the Hindutwavadi forces in the city of Nanded. Implementation of these conspiracies has been temporarily aborted due to the accidental blast of a bomb while in the process of making.

Recently newspapers were agog with news

of the way the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS)

had nabbed three militants belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) on the Manmad-Aurangabad road. As reported in a section of the press (Mid-Day, May 11, 2006): “Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has been voluble with his praise. …the CM told the men, ‘Tumhi Maharashtra vaachavle, changle kaam kele’ (You saved Maharashtra. You have done good work). Presenting a handsome reward to the ATS members he also exhorted them to ‘Rid the state and country of these anti-national elements…go to the root cause and foil their plans’.”

Definitely every peace and justice loving person would not hesitate in congratulating the members of the squad for their operation. But in the backdrop of the plot which was uncovered in the Nanded episode, a question keeps lingering in one’s mind. What is the reason for the silence which has been dutifully maintained over the bomb explosion in the communally sensitive city involving an outfit of the Sangh parivar? Barring exceptions, why is it that the mainstream media did not even bother to report the incident?

Imagine if the bomb explosion would have occured in a predominantly minority area and the involvement of some “fanatic” Islamic group had been detected, would the reaction have been similar?

rnr

Email: subhash.gatade@gmail.com

Economic and Political Weekly May 27, 2006

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top