ON 18 DECEMBER 2010, a team of CBI sleuths escorted an elderly Bengali man Naba Kumar Sarkar, 59 — popularly known as Swami Aseemanand — from Tihar jail to the Tis Hazari court in Delhi, where he was produced before metropolitan magistrate Deepak Dabas. Aseemanand is the key accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast that killed nine people. This was his second court appearance in a span of little over 48 hours. On 16 December, Aseemanand had requested the magistrate to record his confession about his involvement in a string of terror attacks. He stated that he was making the confession without any fear, force, coercion or inducement.

In accordance with the law, the magistrate asked Aseemanand to reflect over his decision and sent him to judicial custody for two days — away from any police interference or influence.

On 18 December, Aseemanand returned, resolute. The magistrate asked everybody except his stenographer to leave his chamber. “I know I can be sentenced to the death penalty but I still want to make the confession,” Aseemanand said.

Over the next five hours, in an unprecedented move, Aseemanand laid bare an explosive story about the involvement of a few Hindutva leaders, including himself, in planning and executing a series of gruesome terror attacks. Over the past few years, several pieces of the Hindutva terror puzzle have slowly been falling into place — each piece corroborating and validating what has gone before. First, the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and others in 2008. The seizure of 37 audio tapes from Pandey’s laptop that featured all these people discussing their terror activities. And most recently, the Rajasthan ATS’ chargesheet on the 2007 Ajmer Sharif blast. Aseemanand’s confession, however, is likely to prove one of the most crucial pieces for investigative agencies.

Unlike police interrogation reports or confessions, under clause 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), confessions before a magistrate are considered legally admissible evidence. Aseemanand’s statement, therefore, is extremely crucial and will have serious ramifications.

The men who allegedly vowed to match Islamist terror with Hindutva terror: bomb for bomb
INDRESH KUMAR, a member of the RSS Central Committee. Three accused, Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma and Shivam Dhakad, and one witness, Bharat Riteshwar, have stated before the CBI that Indresh had mentored and financed the RSS pracharaks behind Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid terror strikes. SWAMI ASEEMANAND, the head of the RSS-affiliated Van Vasi Kalyan Ashram, Shabri Dham in Dangs, Gujarat. He has confessed to playing the role of an ideologue to the terrorists. Besides presiding over terror meetings held in Dangs and Valsad in Gujarat, he also selected Malgeaon, Ajmer Sharif and Hyderabad as terror targets. SUNIL JOSHI, a former RSS pracharak of Mhow district. He was expelled from the RSS after being accused in the murder of two Congress activists in Madhya Pradesh in 2006. Along with a few RSS pracharaks and Hindu radicals from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jammu and Jharkhand, he formed an inter-state terror infrastructure.
SANDEEP DANGE, a senior RSS pracharak from Shajapur district near Indore. Along with Joshi and Ramchandra Kalsangra, he was a key figure in the longrunning conspiracy to bomb Muslim places of worship and Muslim neigbourhoods. He is currently absconding. RAM CHANDRA KALSANGRA ALIAS RAMJI, an RSS pracharak from Madhya Pradesh. He carried out terror strikes in different places between December 2002 and 29 September 2008 (when bombs went off simultaneously in Malegaon and Modasa. He has been absconding since October 2008. SHIVAM DHAKHAD, an RSS activist and associate of accused Joshi and Ramji Kalsangra. Along with other RSS pracharaks, he allegedly took training in bomb-making in 2005. He also did a reconnaissance of Aligarh Muslim University and residence of Justice UC Banerjee (chairman of the Godhra commission) for terror strikes.
LT COL SHRIKANT PUROHIT, a founding member of terror outfit Abhinav Bharat. He was posted with the military intelligence unit at Nashik. He allegedly tried to draft in other army officers in his terror outfit. He is accused of supplying RDX for the 2008 Malegaon blasts. DEVENDRA GUPTA, the RSS vibhag pracharak of Muzaffarnagar, Bihar. He provided logistics to Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange for terror strikes. He also harboured Kalsangra and Dange in RSS offices while they were on the run. LOKESH SHARMA, an RSS worker and close associate of Joshi, Dange and Kalsangra. He purchased the two Nokia handsets that were used to trigger the bombs at Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif.
BHARAT RATESWAR ALIAS BHARATBHAI, the head of Sri Vivekananda Kendra Sansthan in Valsad district, Gujarat. As a close associate of Aseemanand, he participated in several terror meetings held at his residence and also at Shabri Dham ashram. He also travelled with Joshi to Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh providing logistics for the blasts. YOGI ADITYANATH, BJP MP from Gorakhpur. He was contacted by Aseemanand to provide funds for terrorist activities. Joshi held a hush-hush meeting with him at his Gorakhpur residence in 2006, at the time when the conspiracy to carry out multiple blasts was underway. According to Aseemanand, he didn’t give much support. But he continues to be under suspicion. DR ASHOK VARSHNAY, RSS prant pracharak of Kanpur. He sheltered key terror accused and RSS pracharak Devendra Gupta at Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Vishwa Mangal Gau Gram Yatra in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, while Gupta was on the run. Varshnay has told investigators that he had shielded Gupta at the behest of Indresh Kumar.
RAJESH MISHRA, an RSS activist and owner of a foundry in Pithampura, near Mhow. He gave 15 cast iron shells in 2001 to Joshi, who used them during failed bomb blasts at Ijtema (a Muslim gathering) in Bhopal in 2002. He was also a co-accused along with Joshi in the murder of local Congress workers. SUDHAKAR DHAR DWIVEDI ALIAS DAYANAND PANDEY, he ran an ashram named Shardapeeth in Jammu. He played the role of an ideologue to those involved in the 2008 Malegaon blasts. He was in the habit of recording the meetings he would have with Abhinav Bharat members on his laptop.

For years, since the first horrific blasts in Mumbai in 1992, there has been an automatic and damaging perception amongst most Indians that there is a Muslim hand behind every terror blast. To some degree, this bias was shared by the police and intelligence agencies. Every time there was a blast, under intense pressure from both media and government to show results, instead of going in for painstaking and meticulous investigations to catch the real culprits, the security agencies would routinely round up Muslim boys linked with radical organisations and declare them to be terror masterminds. A frenzied media would swallow the story whole. Though a dangerous cocktail of anger, despair and frustration grew within the Muslim community, few Indians — except members of civil society and media organisations like TEHELKA — dared to take stands and question the status quo. The arrest of Sadhvi Pragya and Lt Col Purohit dented this perception slightly, but they were mostly written off as a small and lunatic fringe. Now, Aseemanand’s confession tears much deeper through this prejudice.

‘I know I can be sentenced with the death penalty but I still want to make this confession,’ Swami Aseemanand told the magistrate

According to him, it was not Muslim boys but a team of RSS pracharaks who exploded bombs in Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, on the Samjhauta Express in 2007, in Ajmer Sharif in 2007 and Mecca Masjid in 2007. Apart from the tragic loss of innocent lives in these blasts, what makes this admission doubly disturbing is that, in keeping with their habitual practice, scores of Muslim boys were wrongly picked up by the Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra Police, in collusion with sections of the Intelligence Bureau, and tortured and jailed for these blasts — accentuating the shrill paranoia about a vast and homegrown Islamist terror network. Many of these boys were acquitted after years in jail; some are still languishing inside, their youth and future destroyed, their families reduced to penury.

In a curious twist, however, in one of those inexplicable human experiences that no one can account for, according to Aseemanand, it was an encounter with one of these jailed Muslim boys that triggered a momentous emotional transformation in him, forcing him to confront his conscience and make amends. This is what Aseemanand told the judge: “Sir, when I was lodged in Chanchalguda district jail in Hyderabad, one of my co-inmates was Kaleem. During my interaction with Kaleem I learnt that he was previously arrested in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case and he had to spend about oneand- a-half years in prison. During my stay in jail, Kaleem helped me a lot and used to serve me by bringing water, food, etc for me. I was very moved by Kaleem’s good conduct and my conscience asked me to do prayschit (penance) by making a confessional statement so that real culprits can be punished and no innocent has to suffer.”

At this point, the magistrate asked his stenographer to leave so the confession could continue without restraint.

Tell-all evidence? A photocopy of Swami Aseemanand’s 42-page confession before the magistrate

In a signed statement written in Hindi that runs into 42 pages — and which is in TEHELKA’s possession — Aseemanand then proceeded to unravel the inner workings of the Hindutva terror network. According to him, it was not just a rump group like the ultra-right wing organisation Abhinav Bharat that engineered blasts but, shockingly, RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar who allegedly handpicked and financed some RSS pracharaks to carry out terror attacks.

“Indreshji met me at Shabri Dham (Aseemanand’s ashram in the Dangs district of Gujarat) sometime in 2005,” Aseemanand told the magistrate. “He was accompanied by many top RSS functionaries. He told me that exploding bombs was not my job and instead told me to focus on the tribal welfare work assigned to me by the RSS. He said he had deputed Sunil Joshi for this job (terror attacks) and he would extend Joshi whatever help was required.” Aseemanand further narrated how Indresh financed Joshi for his terror activities and provided him men to plant bombs. Aseemanand also confessed to his own role in the terror plots and how he had motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out terror strikes at Malegaon, Hyderabad and Ajmer. (TEHELKA tried contacting Indresh several times for his side of the story. He said he would call back but didn’t.)

While evidence of the involvement of RSS pracharaks in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts has been growing with every new arrest, Aseemanand’s confession is the first direct evidence of the involvement of Hindutva extremists in the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blast. The evidence — both, direct and indirect — pieced together by the CBI shows that the broad terror conspiracy to target Muslims and their places of religious worship was hatched around 2001.

Three RSS pracharaks from Madhya Pradesh — Sunil Joshi, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange — were apparently at the core of this conspiracy. As the three became more audacious in their terror ambitions they started inducting like-minded Hindutva radicals from other states, mainly Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. While the new entrants were mostly from the RSS, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, some members of fringe saffron groups like Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram also joined the fray.

However, Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange took the precaution of not sharing too many details with members outside the core group. Joshi strictly followed the doctrine of division of work on a ‘need-tok-now’ basis, with each member knowing only his part of the job.

Aseemanand, who ran a Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Dang, first came in contact with Sunil Joshi in 2003 but it was only in March 2006 that he became actively involved in the terror plot.

It was the spirited investigation into the 2008 Malegaon blast by Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare that first blew the lid off this broad Hindutva terror conspiracy. Karkare arrested 11 Hindutva radicals, including Lt Col Purohit, who was attached with the military intelligence unit at Nashik; Dayanand Pandey, a self-styled religious guru who ran an ashram named Sharda Peeth in Jammu and Sadhvi Pragya, an ABVP leader turned into an ascetic, for their role in the 2008 Malegaon blast.

But Karkare’s sudden and ironic killing at the hands of Islamist jihadis in the Mumbai 26/11 attack derailed the saffron terror investigation. The Maharashtra ATS under its new chief KP Raghuvanshi failed to arrest Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange and instead passed them off as minor players in the chargesheet.

The investigation picked up pace again in May 2010 with the arrest of two RSS pracharaks — Devendra Gupta and Lokesh Sharma — by the Rajasthan ATS which was probing the Ajmer blast case. Gupta was the RSS Vibagh Pracharak of Muzaffarnagar, Bihar. He provided logistical support to Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange and harboured the latter two in RSS offices while they were on the run from agencies.

Lokesh Sharma was a RSS worker close to Joshi. He purchased the two Nokia phones that were used to trigger bombs at Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif. It is Sharma’s interrogation that revealed for the first time that RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar was a key figure in the terror conspiracy. The joint investigation of the Rajasthan ATS and CBI, in fact, went on to reveal that, except Pragya Singh Thakur, all those who were arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in 2008 were actually fringe players while the core group comprising Indresh Kumar, Kalsangra and Dange allegedly held the key to the full terror plot.

In June 2010, the CBI examined a witness named Bharat Riteshwar, a resident of district Valsad in Gujarat and a close associate of Swami Aseemanand. Riteshwar told the CBI that Sunil Joshi was a protégé of Indresh and had his approval and logistical support for carrying out terror attacks.

On 19 November 2010 the CBI cracked down on a hideout in Haridwar and arrested Swami Aseemanand, who had been a fugitive for over two years since Sadhvi Pragya’s arrest in October 2008. His arrest unlocked many more pieces.

NABA KUMAR — alias Swami Aseemanand — was originally from Kamaarpukar village in Hooghly district in West Bengal — the birthplace of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. In 1971, after completing his BSc (honours) from Hooghly, Naba Kumar went to Bardman district to pursue a master’s degree in science. Though he was involved with RSS activities from school, it was during his post-graduation years that Naba Kumar became an active RSS member. In 1977, he started working full-time with the RSS-run Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Purulia and Bankura districts. In 1981, his guru Swami Parmanand rechristened him as Swami Aseemanand.

From 1988 to 1993, he served with the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram at Andaman and Nicobar islands. Between 1993 and 1997, he toured across India to deliver sermons on Hindu religion among the tribals. In 1997, he settled down in the Dangs district in Gujarat and started a tribal welfare organisation called Shabri Dham. Aseemanand was known in the area for his rabid anti-minority speeches and his relentless campaign against Christian missionaries.

Aseemanand is seen as being close to the RSS leadership. In the past, leaders like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, former RSS chief KS Sudarshan and current chief Mohan Bhagwat have attended religious functions organised by him at Shabri Dham.

While Aseemanand was known for his vitriolic anti-minority positions, according to his confession, it was the heinous massacre of Hindu devotees at Akshardham temple by Islamist suicide bombers in 2002 that was the first real kindle for their retaliatory terror attacks.

“The Muslim terrorists started attacking Hindu temples in 2002,” Aseemanand said. “This caused great concern and anger in me. I used to share my concerns about the growing menace of Islamic terrorism with Bharat Riteshwar of Valsad.”

In 2003, Aseemanand came in contact with Sunil Joshi and Pragya Singh Thakur. He would often discuss Islamist terrorism with them as well. Finally, according to him, it was the terror attack on Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi in March 2006 which was the real flashpoint for them.

“In March 2006, Pragya Thakur, Sunil Joshi, Bharat Riteshwar and I decided to give a befitting reply to the Sankatmochan blasts,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

Aseemanand gave Rs. 25,000 to Joshi to arrange the necessary logistics for the blasts. He also sent Joshi and Riteshwar to Gorakhpur to seek assistance from firebrand BJP MP Yogi Adityanath. In April 2006, Joshi apparently held a hush-hush meeting with the Adityanath, infamous for his rabid anti-Muslim speeches. But Aseemanand says, “Joshi came back and told me that Adityanath was not of much help.”

However, this did not deter Aseemanand. He went ahead with his plans.

In June 2006, Aseemanand, Riteshwar, Sadhvi Pragya and Joshi again met at Riteshwar’s house in Valsad. It proved to be a chilling one, with far-reaching consequences. Joshi, for the first time, brought four associates with him — Dange, Kalsangra, Lokesh Sharma and Ashok alias Amit.

“I told everybody that bomb ka jawab bomb se dena chahiye, (I told everyone we should answer bombs with bombs),” says Aseemanand. “At that meeting I realised Joshi and his group were already doing something on the subject,” he adds.

“After the combined meeting,” Aseemanand says, “Joshi, Pragya, Riteshwar and I huddled together for a separate meeting. I suggested that 80 percent of the people of Malegaon were Muslims and we should explode the first bomb in Malegaon itself. I also said that during the Partition, the Nizam of Hyderabad had wanted to go with Pakistan so Hyderabad was also a fair target. Then I said that since Hindus also throng the Ajmer Sharif Dargah in large numbers we should also explode a bomb in Ajmer which would deter the Hindus from going there. I also suggested the Aligarh Muslim University as a terror target.”

According to Aseemanand everybody agreed to target these places.

“In the meeting,” Aseemanand continues, “Joshi suggested that it was basically Pakistanis who travel on the Samjhauta Express train that runs between India and Pakistan and therefore we should attack the train as well. Joshi took the responsibility of targeting Samjhauta himself and said that the chemicals required for the blasts would be arranged by Dange.”

Aseemanand’s confession goes on in grave detail. “Joshi said three teams would be constituted to execute the blasts. One team would arrange finance and logistics. The second team would arrange for the explosives. And the third team would plant the bombs. He also said that the members of one team should not know members from the other two teams. So even if one gets arrested the others would remain safe,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

Hate and anger had slipped off the edge into mayhem.

‘Since Hindus throng the Ajmer Sharif Dargah we thought a bomb blast in Ajmer would deter Hindus from going there,’ the Swami said

ON 8 SEPTEMBER 2006, at 1.30 pm, four bombs exploded in the communally tense town of Malegaon in Maharashtra. Besides being a Friday, the Muslim festival Shab-e-barat was being observed. Three bombs went off in the compound of the Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabrastan. A fourth bomb exploded at Mushawart Chowk.

Out of three bombs, one was placed at the entrance gate of Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabrastan, the second on a bicycle parked in the parking lot situated inside the compound and the third was hung on the wall of the power supply room situated in front of Vaju Khana, inside the compound. The fourth bomb went off in the crowded junction of Mushawart Chowk, which was placed on a bicycle, near an electric pole. The attack was meticulously planned; the bombs exploded in quick succession. Thirty one Muslims were killed; over 312 were injured.

In a suspiciously swift investigation, the Maharashtra ATS arraigned nine Malegaon Muslims within 90 days. Eight of these were members of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the outlawed radical Muslim outfit. Another three Malegaon Muslims were shown absconding. Stringent provisions of the draconian Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) were invoked.

On 21 December 2006, the same day that the ATS filed the chargesheet against the nine Malegaon Muslims, the Maharashtra government asked the CBI to take over the probe. In effect, the CBI was presented with a fait accompli: the case had already been so-called solved and the accused had been chargesheeted.

A year ago, the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet but failed to produce any material evidence. For over four years, these nine Malegaon Muslims have been languishing in prison. Aseemanand’s confession now seems proof that the boys were innocent and had been arrested merely to deflect criticism and create a false sense of security among Indian citizens that the blast cases were being “solved”. The real mastermind, according to Aseemanand, was Sunil Joshi. And it was Aseemanand himself who had persuaded Joshi to explode bombs in Malegaon.

This is what he told the magistrate. “Joshi came to see me at Shabri Dham on Diwali in 2006. The Malegaon blasts had already happened. Sunil told me the blasts were carried out by our men. I said the newspaper reports had mentioned that Muslims were behind the blasts and a few Muslims had also been arrested. Sunil assured me the blasts were carried out by him but he refused to reveal the identity of our men who had executed the blasts.”

ON 18 February 2007, on the eve of the then Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri’s visit to India to carry forward the peace dialogue, two powerful bombs went off around midnight in two coaches of the cross-border Samjhauta Express, running between Delhi and Lahore. The train had reached Diwana near Panipat, 80 km north of Delhi. The coaches turned into an inferno. The third bomb placed in another coach failed to detonate. Sixty eight people were killed. Dozens were injured. The peace dialogue received a big setback.

Investigation revealed that three suitcases filled with detonators, timers, iron pipes containing explosives and bottles filled with petrol and kerosene had been smuggled into the three coaches.

The needle of suspicion veered immediately to Pakistani extremists. Depending upon which investigating agency you were speaking to, Pakistan-based terror outfits mainly Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HUJI) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)were blamed for the blasts. Even the US State Department called the terror attack a joint operation of the LeT and HUJI. The Haryana Police tracked down some of the material used in the blasts as being procured from a market in Indore but the trail soon went cold.

In November 2008, the Maharashtra ATS told a court in Nashik that Lt Col Purohit had procured 60 kg of RDX from Jammu & Kashmir in 2006 and a part of it was suspected to have been used in the Samjhauta Express blasts. But the ATS subsequently failed to back its claims with any evidence and was forced to retract. The Haryana cops travelled to Mumbai and interrogated Purohit and other Malegaon accused but could not find any evidence that could link them to the Samjhauta blasts.

In July 2010, the Samjhauta blast probe was handed over to the National Investigating Agency (NIA). Though it still leaves some questions and loose ends, Aseemanand’s confession now joins many other dots in relation to the Samjhauta Express.

The massacre of Hindu devotees at the Akshardham temple by Islamist bombers in 2002 was the first real kindle for the retaliatory attacks

“In February 2007,” Aseemanand told the magistrate, “Riteshwar and Joshi came on a motorbike to a Lord Shiva temple in a place called Balpur. As we had fixed this place for our meeting, I was already there, waiting for the two. Joshi told me in the next two days there would be a piece of good news and I should keep a tab on the newspapers. After the meeting I came back to Shabri Dham and Joshi and Riteshwar went their way. After a couple of days I went to meet Riteshwar at his Valsad residence. Joshi and Pragya were already present there. The Samjhauta Express blasts had happened. I asked Joshi how he was present there while Samjhauta had already happened in Haryana. Joshi replied that the blasts were done by his men.”

“In the same meeting,” Aseemanand continues, “Joshi took Rs. 40,000 from me to carry out the blasts in Hyderabad. A few months later, Joshi telephoned me and told me to keep a tab on the newspapers as some good news was in the offing. In a few days the news of the Mecca Masjid blast appeared in the papers. After 7-8 days, Joshi came to Shabri Dham and brought a Telegu newspaper with him. It had a picture of the blast. I told Joshi that in the papers it had appeared that some Muslim boys had been rounded up for the blast. But Joshi replied it was done by our people.”

LIKE IN the case of the 2006 Malegaon blast, 17 May 2007 was a Friday. At 1.30 pm, as over 4,000 Muslims assembled to offer their Friday prayers at the iconic Mecca Masjid, situated near the Charminar in the old city of Hyderabad, a bomb went off near the Wazu Khana (fountain) meant for doing wazu (ablution before prayers) inside the mosque.

Another IED contained in a blue rexine bag was found hanging near the door-way at the northern end of the mosque. Miraculously, this bomb had not exploded. With no substantive clue emerging from the blast investigation, in a cynical move, the Hyderabad police launched a mop-up operation against local Muslim boys, who were associated with Ahle Hadess, the doggedly fundamentalist sect among Sunni Muslims. Friends and family members of some known local Muslim extremists like Shahid Bilal, who had fled to Pakistan, were also rounded up. In a span of two weeks, over three dozen boys from Malakpet and Saidabaad were picked up and tortured. However, when the police failed to link them to the Mecca Masjid case, they registered three separate bogus cases and implicated the detainees in these cases.

On 9 June 2007, the CBI took over the investigation into the Mecca Masjid case.

A few months later, on 11 October 2007, during the month of Ramzan, at 6.15 pm, as Muslim devotees had begun their iftaar at Ajmer Sharif dargah, a powerful bomb went off near a tree in the compound, killing three people and injuring over a dozen. Investigators found one more unexploded IED at the site.

Swami says, ‘Joshi told me to keep a tab on the papers as some good news was in the offing. Soon after, news of the Mecca Masjid blast appeared’

According to Aseemanand, this blast had been executed by Muslim boys provided by Indresh Kumar. “A couple of days after the Ajmer blast Joshi came to see me. He was accompanied by two men named Raj and Mehul who had also visited Shabri Dham on previous occasions. Joshi claimed his men had perpetrated the blast and he was also present at Ajmer Dargah at the time of the blast. He said that Indresh had provided him two Muslim boys to plant the bomb. I told Joshi that if the Muslim boys get caught, Indresh would get exposed. I also told Joshi that Indresh might get him killed and told him to stay at Shabri Dham. Joshi then told me that Raj and Mehul were wanted in the Baroda Best Bakery case (12 Muslims were killed by rioters in Best Bakery in Gujarat 2002). I told Joshi not to keep Raj and Mehul at the ashram as it would not be safe for them to stay in Gujarat. Joshi, along with the two men, left for Dewas the next day,” said Aseemanand.

Barely two months later, on 29 December 2007, in a sudden twist, Aseemanand’s fears came true. Sunil Joshi was mysteriously murdered outside his house in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. His family claimed he had been murdered by his own organisation. After her arrest, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur also suggested this. But the Madhya Pradesh Police failed to solve the case and filed a closure report in the court.

At the end of December 2010 though, acting on fresh leads, the Madhya Pradesh police finally accepted that Joshi had been murdered by his own friends in the RSS. They charged Mayank, Harshad Solanki, Mehul and Mohan from Gujarat, Anand Raj Katare from Indore and Vasudev Parmar from Dewas with Joshi’s murder. While Mehul and Mohan are still on the run, Solanki was brought before the Dewas court where he confessed to the murder. However, even these arrests don’t join all the dots. The police claim internal rivalry as the motive for the murder. The CBI, though, believes the real motive behind Joshi’s murder was to silence him. Joshi knew too much about the terror conspiracy and his masters were perhaps wary that they might get exposed.

The Muslim boy who triggered an unlikely conversion in jail

Kaleem, a cell phone seller, was arrested and tortured in 2007 for a blast at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. He spent a year-and-half in jail before being acquitted. Soon after, he was back in jail on another charge, when he met Swami Aseemanand. The Swami was struck by the boy’s kindness. When he heard that Kaleem was blamed for a blast that he and his comrades had done, he was profoundly affected and decided to confess as an act of penance.

Sunil Joshi’s murder leaves many unanswered questions. If he was one of the key figures in the terror conspiracy, as many of those arrested testify that he was, why would his comrades want to bump him off? If he was a protégé of Indresh Kumar, acting on his orders and with his sanction, why would his mentor want him dead? What could have created a rift or fallout between all of them? The murder suggests a murky and inexplicable factionalism within the sinister grouping.

With Joshi dead and much of Aseemanand’s confession based on things Joshi had told him about the blasts, it might seem that Aseemanand’s confession runs thin in certain portions and is, therefore, of uneven consequence. But Joshi was not the only piece in the puzzle. Aseemanand’s confession is powerful because it implicates himself at every juncture and points to a network of Hindutva pracharaks, who not only participated in the terror plots but were moved around and sheltered by sections of the organisation while they were on the run. Investigators believe that the arrests of Kalsangra and Dange would provide the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Joshi’s death didn’t mean the end of the horrific blasts — at least from the ultra-Hindutva side. The terror infrastructure he had created along with a few other RSS men continued to function.

ASEEMANAND CONFESSED coming into contact with the shadowy saffron terror outfit Abhinav Bharat in January 2007. Col Purohit was one of the founder members of the outfit. Aseemanand has confessed to proposing more terror strikes in a meeting of Abhinav Bharat held at Bhopal in April 2008. Sadhvi Pragya, Bharat Riteshwar, Col Purohit and Dayanand Pandey were also present in the meeting. “I participated in many Abhinav Bharat meetings and proposed to carry out more terror strikes,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

On 29 September 2008, horror struck again. During Islam’s holy month of Ramzan, an IED went off at Bhikku Chowk, a Muslim neighbourhood in Malegaon. The bomb was concealed in a motorcycle parked in front of a locked office of SIMI. Given the paranoia that had grown around Islamist terror, it had become an accepted maxim that members of SIMI were behind every blast. No proof was ever required. Placing a bomb in front of their office, therefore, was an act of deadly symbolism for the Hindutva outfits.

A similar bomb blast was triggered almost simultaneously hundreds of miles away in a small town called Modasa in Gujarat. Like in Malegaon, the blast took place in a Muslim colony named Sukka Bazaar, outside a mosque when special Ramzan prayers were being offered. Like in Malegaon, the bomb was again concealed in a motorcycle. The two blasts were separated by a gap of five minutes.

The Malgeaon blast killed seven Muslims, including a three-year-old boy. The Modasa blast resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy. Several others were injured.

‘I told my comrades that since the Nizam had wanted to opt for Pakistan during Partition, Hyderabad was also a fair target for us,’ the Swami said

It is a measure of the deep-seated bias that had crept into the Indian justice system that even when deadly blasts went off in the midst of Muslim neighbourhoods and mosques, Muslim boys were still automatically blamed for them. It was beyond anyone’s imagination that Hindutva groups could be behind the inhuman acts.

But as Aseemanand says, “Sometime in October 2008, Dange phoned me and said he wanted to come to Shabri Dham and stay there for a few days. I told him that since I was setting out for Nadiad (Gujarat), it would not be a good idea for him to stay there in my absence. Then Dange requested me to pick him up from a place called Vyara and drop him to Baroda which was on the way to Nadiad. I picked up Dange from Vyara bus stop in my Santro car. He was accompanied by Ramji Kalsangra. Both were carrying two or three bags stuffed with some heavy objects. They told me they were coming from Maharashtra. I dropped them at Rajpipla junction at Baroda. I later realised that it was just a day after the Malegaon blast,” said Aseemanand, before concluding his statement. His confession further corroborates the evidence put together by Karkare.

After the Maharashtra ATS arrested Sadhvi Pragya in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast, Aseemanand went absconding. He was finally arrested by the CBI from Haridwar on 19 November 2010.

THE EMERGENCE of Hindutva terror does not leach away the horror of Islamist terror attacks on places like the Akshardham temple, Sankatmochan mandir and German Bakery in Pune, amongst others. But Aseemanand’s confession will raise many uncomfortable questions for the RSS. It is no one’s case that the actions of a few tars an entire organisation. But there are urgent questions the RSS needs to confront within itself. And answer to the nation.

Given the growing evidence about the involvement of RSS pracharaks in a series of terror blasts, how will the RSS leadership respond?

Many of these terror blasts display a high degree of sophistication in the planning and devices used, with RDX and complex bomb designs being deployed in several of them. Given that most of the foot-soldiers accused for these blasts are of very humble backgrounds, is it possible that they could execute these blasts without support and sanction from the top? Given the strictly hierarchical and disciplined nature of the organisation, is it possible that they were acting without the knowledge of their superiors? Most crucially, given the gathering evidence about the involvement of several RSS pracharaks and other affiliates in this series of terror blasts, how will the RSS leadership respond? If it is true that some members of their organisation have turned rogue, will they seek the most stringent punishment for them? The Hindutva worldview may be politically opposed to minority rights, but will it go far enough to watch some of its members drag the country further down the suicidal course of competitive terrorism between Islamist and Hindutva extremists? Or will it opt for the saner option of a cleansing within.



Conducted at the instance of the
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, South Kanara
Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter
The Catholic Sabha, Dakshina Kannada
Justice Michael F. Saldanha,
Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.
Chairman, Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter.
Conducted on 11th and 12th December 2010
Justice Michael F. Saldanha (Retd)
Chairman Transparency International India
(Karnataka Chapter)
God grant me the
to accept the things
I cannot change…
Courage to
change the things I can
and Wisdom to
know the difference…
After the BJP Government assumed power in Karnataka in the
year 2008, there was a sudden spurt in inter-communal hostilities. It
initially started with some of the militant organizations adopting an ultraaggressive
posture by decorating every town, city and village with saffron
flags, posters and the like which was accompanied by groups of young
persons going around these places targeting the minorities. Even where
members of the minority communities were assaulted, their shops looted
and places of worship defiled, the Police refused to register offences
against the wrong-doers, instead of which, the Complainants were
threatened, beaten up and often times arrested and put behind bars.
Taking up the matter with the higher authorities served no purpose
because each of these Police Officers would straight away make the
excuse that the instructions have come from the Vidhana Soudha. What
this meant was that the Police force in the State got completely
saffronised because inevitably every member of the force desired to
flow with the tide which they also found very beneficial financially and
career-wise. Specifically, at least three of the most violent and
dreaded Police Officers from Mangalore who should have been
dismissed from service and prosecuted and convicted were
rewarded with promotions! To quote an example, the militant
organizations would loot shops and restaurants and would also drag
persons to the Police Stations on the ground that they were converting
others or that they were cattle thieves and the like and this gave the
police an excellent opportunity to exploit the victims and make big money.
It also became the order of the day for the police to target the
members of the Muslim community on the ground that they were
Terrorists or were linked with anti-social activity. This meant that any
member of the community could be subjected to search of the house or
business area and the police would help themselves to whatever they
wanted and pick up one or two persons on the ground of suspicion and
blackmail them. What was really tragic was the fact that in not a
single one of these cases did the Courts provide any relief. This
wave of communalism overtook the Bar as a result of which, it was
extremely difficult for any of the victims to get a Lawyer to appear for
them. The subordinate Judiciary would rubber stamp anything and
everything that the Police would do how so very astounding it may be.
To quote one specific example, when the Editor of the Karavali Ale
was arrested on totally false and unsustainable grounds, the
Magistrate refused Bail and when this could no longer be done,
the Police told the Court that NINE other Courts had issued NON
BAILABLE WARRANTS against him on one and the same charge!
This was action ultimately quashed by the High Court with strictures
but that was after the lapse of nearly one year. To sum it up, there
was a complete breakdown of the Law and Order situation.
Matters really exploded in September 2008 when the Churches
were attacked and the Police Department in partnership with the militant
organizations let loose the type of violence and false arrests that this
country has seldom seen. There was a universal demand that a Judicial
enquiry headed by a Retired Supreme Court Judge be set up by the
Central Government to examine the facts and produce a report along
with recommendations in respect of these horrifying events and one of
the basic demands was that the role of the Chief Minister and the Home
Minister, the State Government and the various wings of the Government
particularly the Police should be investigated. Not surprisingly, the Chief
Minister immediately picked a Retired High Court Judge from his own
Home Town and from his community to head the enquiry and the terms
of reference necessarily excluded all the above areas. This enquiry
was financed by the State Government and immediately there was
a strong public protest that like all other Judicial enquiries set up
by a State Government or the Politicians in power, that this enquiry
also would carry on for a couple of years, that the investigation
would be an eye-wash and more importantly that it would
completely cover up for the Politicians and the State Government
and its officials and not only exonerate them, but as happened in
the case of the Nanavati Commission in the State of Gujarat, it
would give the culprits a clean chit and even go to the extent of
complementing and praising them. It was in this background that
PUCL decided to institute a Peoples’ Tribunal Enquiry under the auspices
of Transparency International which was to be a one man Commission
headed by Justice M.F. Saldanha. With the assistance of several
persons, the Commission held an incisive investigation, the unique
feature being that instead of the old fashioned formal hearings, the Judge
went to every one of the areas and personally investigated the scene of
offence, met the victims and the witnesses and several others, afforded
the authorities an opportunity of explaining their defence and thereafter,
produced a detailed Report, parts of which have been released and the
whole report is to be released shortly in the form of a volume. The findings
are extremely damaging to the Politicians, the State Government and
the Bureaucracy but the principle responsibility for the violence, and the
total breakdown of the law and order situation has been ascribed to the
police and to the Courts which have let down the citizens by refusing to
render Justice, by supporting the custodial terrorism and wrongfully
upholding every illegal detention and the worst form of infringements of
human rights.
If the Church attacks were shameful enough and invited universal
condemnation Nationally and Internationally, with the question being
asked as to why the persons who were involved in the violence and who
openly came out in Press Conferences on Television and on Public
platforms boasting about their great achievements were not arrested
even though every one of their actions were cognizable offences, the
State Government openly encouraged another organisation called the
Rama Sene which was even more militant and violent. Apart from
targeting the students and younger people belonging to the Muslim and
Christian communities they started moral policing whereby open violence
was let loose against the boys and girls of these communities.
This was followed by an incident known as the Pub Attack Case
wherein a whole lot of young women were molested and beaten up
while they were dancing. The National and International media covered
this incident live and it sent shock waves through the whole country and
through every other civilized nation inviting total condemnation. Not a
single arrest was made nor was any action taken and the Ram Sene
went totally out of control in the whole District. The Home Minister
justified all these criminal activities on the ground that the students
concerned had given provocation which was downright false.
It must be said to the credit of the previous D.C. Ponnu Raj that he
issued a show-cause notice to the Head of the Ram Sene who was
beating his chest and loudly proclaiming that he would step up the
violence. After following the procedure prescribed by Law, an Order
was passed against Muthalik externing him from the District. The Law
prescribes that if the Order was wrong that the aggrieved party had to
file an Appeal and that he could even obtain Interim Orders provided
the case so warranted. It is quite unprecedented for the Appellate remedy
to be by-passed and for the party to directly approach the High Court as
there exists a total legal bar to the High Court exercising jurisdiction
when an alternate remedy exists and when it has not been exhausted.
To the utter shock of the right thinking citizens of the State and particularly
Dakshina Kannada District – Muthalik straight away approached the
High Court and the High Court not only entertained the Petition but
straight away granted a Stay. With due respect, it is submitted that it is
Orders such as these that completely destroy the status and confidence
of the few good officers in public office like Ponnu Raj because it is such
men who stick their necks out in the course of duty and if the High Court
slaps them in the face, it will send shock waves to this and every other
good Officer who will be disappointed and frustrated and will desist from
standing up to illegalities.
PUCL and Transparency International found that the role of the
Police Department in all these atrocious activities was indefensible and
that these two areas namely the Police and the Courts required to be
carefully investigated and that the time has come for the problem to be
studied, for appropriate recommendations regarding corrective action
required to be set out and follow up measures undertaken and
accordingly, a Peoples Tribunal Enquiry was fixed for the 11th and 12th
December 2010 in Mangalore.
This was the Justification for the institution of the Tribunal’s Enquiry
and the Report and Findings as also the Recommendations are
contained in this volume. We gratefully acknowledge the time and the
skills of the Jury Members who presided over the enquiry and who
collated the material that forms part of the case history and the findings
as also the recommendations. All of these were put together by Justice
M.F. Saldanha who did the final drafting, and who assumes responsibility
for everything contained in this volume and to whom we are extremely
It was decided that the Report be preceded by a Foreword
amplifying the background to the enquiry. Justice Saldanha has drawn
heavily from what emerged in the earlier Enquiry conducted by him as
also a lot of supportive material that emerged thereafter since he has
been actively pursuing the various heads. For instance, it was
necessary to point out to the Home Minister of the State who kept
on publicly declaring that the attacks against the minorities have
subsided, that by 15th August 2010 i.e. Independence Day, there
had been a fresh lot of regular attacks against the minorities and
that they had totaled 1000. Secondly, the Home Minister had to be
reminded that whereas prior to his Government assuming power
and prior to the Church attacks of September 2008 that there had
not been one single recorded case of so-called conversions or
attempts and that after his oral directions to the Police, every Police
Station has been registering at least 20 such false cases every
month in order to build up the statistics. The media and independent
authorities have been examining the genuineness of these offences
that have been registered and every one of them have been found
to be false as not a single one of the so called Complainants is
even traceable. Undoubtedly, these are sensitive areas and the facts
are unpleasant but in the public interest, they have to be recorded and
exposed. This job has been done by Justice M.F. Saldanha independently
and none of the remaining members of the Jury are in any way
responsible for it. It is clarified that PUCL, Transparency International
and Justice M.F. Saldanha who has authored the Foreword take fully
responsibility for this part of the volume.
P. B. D’Sa
DATED : 17.01.2011
The BJP Government with B.S. Yediyurappa as the Chief Minister
and B.V. Acharya as the Home Minister, (both seasoned RSS
pracharaks) assumed power in the year 2008 and within days the State
of Karnataka witnessed a total upheaval. This was more pronounced in
the Karavali area because Acharya who held the Home Portfolio spent
more time in his home town of Udupi and with his close associates from
the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, the Swamijis,and his Guru at Kalladka
than at the State Head Quarters at Bangalore. There was a sudden
burst of saffronisation through the entire coastal belt. The whole of the
State Machinery was completely communalized and the greatest tragedy
was that the subordinate judiciary took a cue from the Lawyers who had
joined the movement and totally aligned itself with them. All of a sudden,
saffron flags, posters and streamers inundated the whole area. What
accompanied this was total disaster.
The Karavali area resembled Nazi Germany at the height of the
Nazi power. Suddenly, huge battalions of youth, mainly on two wheelers
but also in other vehicles which included Government Jeeps and KSRTC
buses started patrolling the roads. Violence was freely indulged in, all
directed against the minorities i.e. the Christians and the Muslims. Their
shops, establishments and places of business were not only targeted
but were indiscriminately exploited and looted. The Police Department
under the supervision of S.P. Satish Kumar who was the virtual godfather
of all the anti-social elements in the entire region ably supported by
Inspector – Jayant Shetty and a host of police officers who included
Police Inspectors – Ganapathy and Shivakumar unleashed the type of
violence that the region has never experienced before.
Not one complaint in respect of assault, rioting, looting or dacoity
was registered in any police station in the entire region. Anybody who
went to a Police Station to complain was mercilessly beaten up, arrested
on false charges and thrown into the lock up. The levels of police torture
and false involvements reached an unprecedented scale and the greatest
tragedy was that a good section of the Lawyers who had jumped on to
the Bandwagon refused to render any assistance to the victims but were
ever willing to come out powerfully on behalf of the aggressors. This is
a sad blemish on the profession but is precisely what happened in Nazi
What is really pathetic is the fact that the Courts provided zero
relief. I am saddened and ashamed at the role of the Judiciary during
this period and the manner in which every single victim was illegally
and dishonestly denied Bail, retained in custody for abnormal periods
of time and there was not one instance when action was taken by a
single Judge in the hundreds and thousands of cases where the victims
complained of inhuman and merciless torture at the hands of the police.
In my opinion, this period represents the blackest era in the history of
the subordinate Judiciary of the Karavali region.
An organisation under the banner of the Rama Sene which had
been both militant and violent in the District suddenly stepped up its
aggression and hatred for the Christians and the Muslims and let loose
violence which was directed against the younger members of these
communities. The whole of the student population was terrorized, Muslim
girls were not allowed to use the veil or burkha and what was really bad
was the fact that these boys and girls were pulled out from buses and
cars, beaten up on the road, taken to secluded places and mercilessly
assaulted and threatened that if they lodged any complaints they would
be killed. A string of such events took place with not a single complaint
being entertained or any action being taken against the culprits. The
Home Minister Acharya has gone on record before the Media stating
that the Rama Sena was fully justified in attacking anyone whose
behaviour was considered “immoral”. According to him, even where
assault and kidnapping had taken place and where students have been
pulled out from their hostels, class rooms and even residential areas
that the action is justified. When there is a Home Minister of this type
who gives full backing and encouragement to criminal activity and above
all to the spread of communal hatred, the question really arises as to
whether the Police inaction can be faulted. It was under similar
circumstances when in a series of atrocities against women which were
outrageous, that I had pointed out that the Police force in Karnataka
exists to protect the Law breakers and that it serves absolutely no
purpose to spend Rs.260.00 Crores per month on maintaining this
Department, that it should be disbanded and public money saved and
that the citizens will look after their own safety.
The world conscience has been shocked when the facts of the
Editor Seetharam’s case were projected by me Nationally and
Internationally. While papers like the “Udayavani” came out with blazing
SAFFRON HEADLINES and the rest of the media was terrorized,
Seetharam’s one publication “Karavali Ale” stood its ground and this
invited the fury and revenge of Acharya. Under the personal and direct
Orders of Home Minister Acharya, Editor Seetharam was illegally
arrested, chained hand and foot in total defiance of the Law laid down
by the Supreme Court of India and paraded through the Court Premises
and produced in Court without there being any charge or case against
him. The Judge had denied him Bail the previous night, he was retained
in custody for one and a half months and taken to all corners of the
State by the Police in defiance of Court Orders with repeated attempts
being made by the Police authorities to finish him off and it is only the
Vigilance of the Members of PUCL and a small band of persons, one of
whom was myself who saved this man’s life. The Press Council of India
has recorded strong findings against the State Government and the
Police Department in this case, the State Human Rights Commission
has passed severe strictures and the High Court has ordered a princely
sum of compensation quantified at Rs.10,000/- (which in my considered
view is not only a miscarriage of Justice, but a total let down by the
higher Judiciary) and at the end of the day, Acharya, the Police
authorities, the Doctors and every one else goes scot-free and as an
eye wash, we are informed that two Police Constables have been
suspended for one week on the ground that they wrongly handcuffed
and chained the Editor.
Transparency International and several citizens’ organizations
insisted that Disciplinary Action be taken against SP – Satish Kumar,
Jayant Shetty and Ganapathy, the three Police Officers who had been
responsible for the unleashing of violence against the minorities which
had reached unprecedented levels. Under pressure, Chief Minister –
Yediyurappa who had partnered Acharya in every one of these activities
stated that a High Level Departmental Enquiry would be conducted.
One of the very good Senior DIGs came to Mangalore, held an enquiry
and submitted a Report to the Government holding these three persons
guilty on all counts, recommending their immediate suspension and
stringent disciplinary action. The material on record fully justified this
and if there was any Rule of Law in Karnataka not only should these
Officers have been dismissed from service but they should have been
put on Trial and made a public example of. In nine of the leading
Judgments on the point, the Supreme Court has repeatedly pointed out
that the Police Department is entrusted with the sacred duty of
maintaining Law and Order, and of safeguarding citizens rights and
property particularly where the weaker sections and the minorities are
concerned and that no member of the Force at whatever level should
be spared under any circumstances, when they are found to be
dishonest, corrupt, violent and rank sadists as turned out in the case of
the whole of the Police Department in the Karavali area. The Supreme
Court has gone on to observe that this Class of Public Servants who
turn into perverts have to be awarded deterrent and exemplary
punishment in the Public Interest.
Following these directions, in at least 6 of the cases, as Judge
of the Karnataka High Court, I have awarded imprisonment ranging
from 5 to 10 years RI to errant members of the Police force not to
mention Life Imprisonment awarded to six barbaric police
personnel who had beaten to death three poor boys in Shimoga.
What action has the Yediyurappa Government taken on the findings
recorded against these Police Officers. The file was called for by the
State Human Rights Commission and not shockingly, there is an
endorsement in Acharya’s handwriting as Home Minister defending
these Officers which reads “ no action for the time being” and then
follows the endorsement by the Chief Minister – Yediyurappa which
reads “Treat the Case as closed”. Then follows the nicest part of
the operation where these Police men are promoted and are even
recommended for Police honors.
I set out below a few instances that highlight what was going on:
(a)A Muslim vegetable vendor in one of the small towns near
Mangalore was attacked by the local Bajrang Dal and taken to the Police
Station on the allegation that he had stolen the neighbouring Vendor’s
vegetable worth Rs.17/-. The man was stripped naked, mercilessly
beaten and subjected to every conceivable form of torture at the local
police station for two full days. No entry was made showing an arrest.
He was not produced before the local Court and the police found that
they had used too much force and the man was unconscious and about
to die. He was put in the Police Jeep, brought to Mangalore and thrown
on the footpath near the State Bank of India at 6.00 a.m. in the morning.
A group of Muslims who were returning from Prayer witnessed this
incident, picked up the unconscious man and took him to the Wenlock
Hospital. The Doctors refused to either treat him or to admit him unless
directed by the local Police as it was a medico-legal case. The Mangalore
police refused to entertain any complaint or to support his admission to
the Hospital though the man was in a precarious condition in order to
support their colleagues who had almost beaten him to death. The result
was that the community collected money and had the man treated at a
private hospital for three months. Though, he did survive, he has suffered
lifelong kidney damage. When he went back to his hometown, the
local police who had almost killed him on the earlier occasion and against
whom PUCL had lodged a complaint to the then IG, recorded a statement
and took his signature to the effect that he was traveling to Mangalore,
fell out of a local bus and sustained severe injuries. On the basis of this
report, the then DIG closed the case. The victim, his family and relations
were all warned that if the matter was taken up, their women would be
raped, their houses would be burnt and that there would be no trace of
any of them.
(b)After the police violence at the Permanur Church where over
180 Catholics were severely brutalized by the Police, desperate attempts
were made to effect false arrests and to contend that it was some of the
local youngsters who were involved in group rivalry who are responsible
for the incident. Mercifully enough, the brutalization by SP. Satish Kumar,
Jayant Shetty and the huge police force has been vividly record on
video, has been shown on all the National Channels as also the
International Channels including BBC and CNN. The method adopted
by the Police was to round up as many young Christian Boys as possible,
to beat them up and then record so-called confessions to the effect that
they were responsible for the incident. The local police registered as
many as 47 false cases to support their S.P. The local Courts
repeatedly refused Bail to these poor boys supporting the Police
al the way. The victims were retained in custody for a period of up to 3
and 4 months regularly brutalized while in custody and the majority of
them have lost their source of livelihood not to mention the hundreds of
students whose careers were ruined. They have all been terrorized into
not taking any counter action. During this period, I was informed that a
young man, aged 22 years from the area who used to drive a small
tempo delivering milk for his livelihood was sent for by the local police.
Knowing his fate, the boy ran away to his uncle’s house at Padil. A few
days later, the police traced him, arrested him at Padil and mercilessly
beat him at his uncle’s house. No arrest was shown for 24 hours and he
was severely tortured at the Police Station, at which time, he started
bleeding profusely. The Police ordered his relations to take him to a
Private Hospital and to inform the Doctors that he was the victim of a hit
and run case on the highway. We had met the relations who were too
terrified to even lodge a complaint against the police. The whole village
collected money for the emergency surgery because his facial bones
had been fractured and he required an immediate operation. It took
him Eleven Weeks to recover from the police brutality. It is true that no
complaint has been registered and further action was not possible
because of the terror tactics adopted by the Police Department.
(c)Taking full advantage of the fact that some Muslim Organisations
were involved in acts of terrorism which included bomb blasts in some
parts of the country, the local police took it upon themselves to target
the Muslim community. It became routine for the police personnel to
enter the houses of members of the community on the ground that they
had secret information of involvement on the part of local persons. Young
boys were indiscriminately assaulted and their mathematical instruments
used for geometry and their geography books and maps were seized
and torn up on the ground that they were planning terror operations
against the State. Jewellery was looted from the houses and anybody
who lodged a complaint was arrested on the ground that they were
suspected Terrorists. This form of police / State terrorism received 100%
support from the Courts. In not a single case, was Bail granted and the
custody periods were indiscriminately extended. A father and son were
arrested on the ground that they were linked with the Bombay Blasts.
They were retained in custody for four months as the Police claimed
that they were investigating and the Court refused Bail though there
was zero evidence. After four months, the Police took them to Mumbai,
where they were retained in custody for another eight weeks because
the Mumbai Police told the Court that they had no evidence against
them, but that they were required to check about their involvement in
the Ahmedabad riots. When the Court refused to extend the remand
after two months, they were taken to Ahmedabad and were detained for
another five months on the ground that the investigations were pending.
When the local Human Rights Activists took up the matter before the
Court, they were taken to Jammu & Kashmir on the ground that they
were connected with the Terrorists from that State. This involved illegal
detention for another seven months as the police contended that though
there was no evidence against them, they were checking their links with
the Pakistani Terrorists. When all of this failed, they were brought back
to Bangalore and the Courts have still not released them from custody
as the Police contend that they have fresh information that they are
connected with the attacks on Parliament. Through this lengthy period
of time, two totally innocent citizens have been denied their liberty
for about TWO YEARS through a conspiracy between the police
and the Courts for a couple of years when admittedly there is zero
evidence against them. The provocation for their initial arrest was
because they had addressed a complaint to the DG Police in Bangalore
that the local police had entered their house, molested the women, beaten
up the remaining inmates and looted the place by taking away jewelry,
electrical gadgets, watches and property worth Rs.3,70,000/-. This is
the price the victims had to pay for complaining. The wonderful result
of all this was that in answer to the question on the floor of the
assembly, both the Home Minister and the Chief Minister contended
that there is not a single complaint against the Police Department
from any member of the Muslim community in the Bangalore
(d)Since, September 2008, there have been 2116 attacks on places
of worship belonging to the Christian community. There have been 1868
instances of violence against individuals, shops, eating houses and other
small business establishments belonging to members of the Christian
and Muslim community. Every single one of these incidents has been
reported to the Police authorities, 90% of them in writing because the
leaders of the communities have instructed the victims to do this. Not
one complaint has been entertained, not one FIR has been registered
and not a single one of the culprits have been arrested. To quote just
one example, I had personally questioned the S.P. and the then DIG
Police as to why no action has been taken on four simultaneous cases
of attacks and vandalism committed by the Bajrang Dal activists and
other anti-social elements on a little shop belonging to a Catholic
Newspaper Vendor. He has on all four occasions named the persons
involved and furnished the numbers of the vehicles used by them. The
answer from the Police Department to me was that neither the individuals
nor the vehicles were traceable. To the question as to why no FIRs
were recorded, the answer was that they were acting on instructions
from the Vidhana Soudha.
(e)One of the highlights of the Police performance in Dakshina
Kannada has been the total alignment with the authorities of the
Mangalore SEZ. The victims in this case happened to be 69% Christians
and all the entire lot, even the non-Christians were tribals and those
belonging to the weaker sections. They were looted, beaten up, their
homes, fields and property destroyed, their standing crops were buried
under debris through bulldozers, the compensation amounts
misappropriated, documents and records forged and fabricated, all of
which have invited severe strictures from the Lokayukta and Justice
S.R. Nayak, the Head of the State Human Rights Commission. In all of
this, where the SEZ authorities had used the services of the mafia,
musclemen and criminals of the worst category against the poor, weak
and helpless victims, the atrocities of the Police Department in these
acts of State Terrorism are shameful and unpardonable. There are on
record 2726 written complaints from the victims, social workers and
NGOs who represented these poor persons. The date, time, full
particulars and names of the culprits have all been set up. Not one
single complaint has been registered. No FIRs recorded and what is
even more shameful is that the various police stations and in particular
the office of the SP, Mangalore were functioning as part and parcel of
the SEZ. What needs to be taken particular note of is the fact that
1246 false cases were registered against the victims and the social
workers who tried to assist them, in all of which cases, the Police made
it a point to register so-called FIRs invoking non-bailable offences, so
that the victims could be retained in custody for abnormally long periods
of time. In addition to this, on every occasion when the so-called accused
were produced in Court, Bail was opposed by the Police. I have no
hesitation in recording the fact that there is unmistakable evidence that
the whole of the Police Department starting from the SP to Officers like
Jayant Shetty and all the way down the line to the constables was totally
corrupted and was on the pay-roll of the SEZ. On 8th November, 2008,
when the Internationally acclaimed Swamy Agnivesh and I
personally went to KUNBI PADAV and witnessed the atrocities
taking place and the Police protecting the SEZ mafia, the Bajpe
Police Station is supposed to have recorded two FIRs against
Swamiji and myself on a host of serious criminal charges such as
attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, rioting, intimidation, trespass
and interfering with public servants in the discharge of their duties.
We have not so far been arrested, but it is not known when the
police will decide to do so, because both of us were told that once
the police lay their hands on us and take us into custody, every
bone in our bodies will be broken. IF THIS IS NOT STATE
(f) The Police Department in Dakshina Kannada are Specialists in
fake encounters and encounter killings. Since, the year 2004, the Police
have been indiscriminately shooting down whomsoever they find
inconvenient and in all these fake encounters, evidence is fabricated to
indicate to the public that the deceased person was the aggressor and
further more, that he or she had indulged in anti-social activity and acts
of terrorism but that there is no recorded criminal evidence or convictions
because the police were not able to arrest the persons. I had occasion
as Judge of the Karnataka High Court to examine as many as 21
such cases and every single one of them I have recorded that the
so-called encounter was fake and that the killing was thoroughly
unjustified. In the majority of these cases, the Police are heavily paid
by the Opponents of the deceased who are after their property or desire
to settle scores with them and that is the real ground for shooting. In not
a single one of the 21 cases, where I had directed that all those involved
in the incident and those who had paid them / conspired with them should
be prosecuted, not a single prosecution followed from the State
Government. Similarly, since all those who have been shot come from
the poor and weak strata, no action has followed and the Police have
got away with these murders.
Reference is invited to the enquiry conducted into the Editor –
Seetharam case wherein the Police followed Seetharam and his wife
on a Sunday night when they were on their way to attend to a temple,
intercepted them and for the next two hours, kept taking them to once
secluded place after the other in order to stage a so-called encounter
and shoot them, but god was on their side and they survived only because
every single road chosen by the police happened to have a fair amount
of traffic or the presence of villagers and they finally gave up in the hope
of getting the job done within one of the police lock ups or jails.
There has been a serious charge against the Police Department
that apart from the torture chambers run by the Department and the
abnormal inhuman and sadistic violence that the Officers and Staff
regularly let loose on anybody whom they laid their hands on, that they
have also been practicing another form of atrocity by getting the antisocial
elements within the lock-up and the jail premises to assault the
victims and to even kill them. There have been eleven complaints of
persons belonging to the minority community who have died in Police
custody in the last two and a half years but in all these cases, no action
against the police has been possible because they have made false
entries in the Police Stations that the death took place on the road in a
hit and run case and the Government Doctors have supported the police
in these atrocities.
In the Editor – Seetham case, where Seetharam was ordered to
be retained in Police custody in Udupi and was permitted hospitalization
on very valid and real health breakdown reasons, on the express Orders
of Home Minister – Acharya and his son who was exercising more powers
than the father, without obtaining Court Orders, and in breach of the
Law, the Police pulled him out of the Udupi Hospital, refused the family’s
requests for an ambulance at their cost and drove him at breakneck
speed over horrible roads for two hours till he reached Mangalore at
night virtually half dead. An attempt was made to put him into the subjail
as it was full of gangsters and anti-social elements, all of whom are
the best friends of the Police Department so that he could be finished
off there. The presence of the PUCL Office-bearers and the insistence
of the Lawyers prevented the attempt of the Police to have him beaten
up and possibly killed in the jail.
Sometime before this, the Police had falsely picked up two Muslim
boys, objected to their bail and had them confined to the Mangalore
sub-jail where they tried to incarcerate Seetharam. These two boys
were savagely assaulted by a group of Bajrang Dal activists who are
present in the same jail. They were moved to the hospital in a precarious
condition with grievous injuries in the belief that both of them would die.
The injuries were all on vital parts of the body particularly on the head
and chest. There were stab wounds and the Press and TV exposed the
fact that the assailants had used knives, daggers, iron bars and iron
chains. There was a demand for a Judicial Enquiry and the Home
Department was asked to explain as to how such deadly weapons had
been smuggled into the jail. There was also a demand that the assailants
must be charged with offences of attempt to murder and causing grievous
hurt and further more, that the Jail Authorities who had permitted deadly
weapons to be taken in and had also abetted the assault should be
suspended and dismissed from service. The nice part of the story is
that it emerged that the assailants had with them mobile phones and
unlimited quantities of liquor. Home Minister Acharya who at that time
the Chief Patron of the Bajrang Dal condoned all their violence, ordered
that no action be taken against them and immediately issued a statement
that the Home Department would look into the matter. What followed:
(a) The Jailor who was responsible for allowing illegal arms
and liquor into the jail and who also facilitated the
incident was immediately shifted by Acharya under his
personal Orders to Bangalore and was rewarded with a
(b) Acharya also ordered that no action be taken against any of
the assailants on the ground that it was not known as to who
exactly had assaulted the Muslim boys. Judging from some
of the ridiculous statements that the Home Minister used to
issue at that time which defied credibility, it is a small wonder
that he did not issue a statement that the injuries were self
inflicted !
(c) The victims were treated in the hospital for a long period of
time till they recovered and all their relations were warned
that if they lodge any complaints or press any charges that
they would be finished off. When questioned by the media
as to why the assailants had not been prosecuted, Acharya’s
defence was that the victims and their relations had not
lodged any complaints and hence, the State was unable to
act. It is impossible, in a situation like this to accept that
there would be no complaints but even if that was the position
having regard to the terror tactics employed, the question
still arises as to why the State and the Police Department
did not take legal action on their own accord in the case of
such serious offences committed within the jail premises..
This a mandatory requirement of the law and no excuse is
No atrocities or illegalities could have taken place on such a
continuous and massive scale if the Judiciary had only lived up to its
constitutional obligations. It is a matter of regret, distress, deep concern
and utter shame that in the whole of the area right through this period of
time that one Judicial Officer in any Court so much as listened to recorded
or took cognizance of complaints from the victims even when produced
in Court. This was a failure of the Law and of judicial duty and it is this
failure that encouraged the State Government and the Police to commit
the type of atrocities that have been recounted here. In thousands of
cases where the victims told the Magistrates that they had been subjected
to horrifying torture and serious injuries, they were not even taken out of
police custody and consigned to judicial custody. PUCL has checked
the court records in over ten thousand such cases and in not a single
one has the Magistrate recorded the complaint of torture and injuries.
To what extent the Judiciary has failed in its duties is representative
on the fact that even in thousands of cases where visible injuries were
shown to the Magistrates, no medical investigation or treatment was
ordered. Not only is this a breach of the Law and encouragement to the
State and the Police Department to multiply violence and atrocities but
it is the most horrible infringement and violation of human rights and to
think that it has happened at the instance of the Court and Judicial
Officers is something absolutely unpardonable.
The same pathetic story is repeated when it comes to the track
record of the Judiciary in the matter of grant of bail. The consistent
practice followed is to refuse to hear the Accused and his Advocate and
to straight away refuse bail and remand the Accused to Police custody.
This has happened even in the case of thousands of persons who are
victims of police violence at the time of the church attacks and to
hundreds who were falsely arrested by the Police in the course of these
incidents. I have personally examined the cases of at least 6,000
innocent persons and in not a single one of these cases, could the arrest
be justified. In the case of Permanur and Kulsekhar, over 300 persons
who were victims of police violence and who were injured, the majority
of them with bleeding injuries on the head were produced in blood stained
clothes before the Courts and the Magistrates refused them Bail and
remanded them to Police custody even refusing medical treatment. In
the Milagres incident particularly, as also in two other incidents from
Mangalore city, in order to justify the defence put forward by Acharya
and his Police that the mobs had attacked them, hundreds of students,
mechanics, drivers and other self employed persons were
indiscriminately rounded up and arrested. Their college careers were
ruined, their businesses were finished all because the Courts refused
to grant them Bail for periods ranging from 3 to 6 months. There was
zero material against them. Their arrest was illegal and unjustified and
yet the Courts at the instance of the State and the Police detained them
in custody irrespective of the consequences. Apart from the illegalities,
these are serious and unpardonable infringements of human rights. I
will answer the question as to why no counter action or complaints have
emanated, the obvious reason is that the State Terrorism has pulverized
the victims and their families, they have told me that they are thankful
that they are alive and that they dare not agitate for their rights. What
distressed me most was the fact that in each and every case, the pathetic
statement was that “ after the Courts have done this to us, do you ever
expect these very Courts to entertain our complaints or to Order
compensation?” This is indeed a very very shameful certificate to the
Judiciary coming from the most deserving consumers of Justice.
The St. Aloysius College is the oldest and most reputed educational
institution in the District. On 23.12.2010, the students had organized a
musical function, when all of a sudden, SI – Manjunath from the Bunder
Police Station along with a relatively large group of policemen stormed
into the campus, disrupted the proceedings and violently attacked the
students. When questioned, he stated that police permission had not
been obtained for the function. There is no provision of Law under
which a college, holding a function in its own premises has to seek
police permission. Obviously, this was another method of blackmailing
the college and extorting money. The Dakshina Kannada Police have
not only got a bad name but have acquired a stinking reputation for
blackmail and extortion and this is a classic instance where the Police
Force of Dakshina Kannada exposed its true character in all its shameful
glory! The matter has been reported to the higher authorities who have
all covered up for SI – Manjunath and his team which establishes how
deep and how complete the rot is.
It is in this overall background that PUCL and Transparency
International have taken a decision to hold a People’s Enquiry into the
atrocities of the Police Department and the corresponding failure of the
Judiciary to either check these atrocities, to contain them or to take
counter action. The hearings were held at the Milagres College Hall on
the 11th and 12th December 2010. As a result of the publicity, a large
number of aggrieved persons attended the Tribunal hearing. A summary
of the proceedings was prepared for purposes of record. More
importantly, it was decided to examine a representative number of cases
as each of the aggrieved persons and their witnesses deposed before
the Jury and they also produced the relevant and requisite records in
respect of each case which was fully substantiated. The members of
the Jury expressed their opinion at the end of the proceedings on the
afternoon of 12th December and Justice M.F. Saldanha who presided
over the proceedings and headed the Jury summarized the findings.
These are separately set out along with a brief description of each of
the cases that were taken up for consideration and the individual findings
in respect of the respective case. On a constructive note, there are a
series of recommendations in an effort to bring about some correctives.
The situation as it now exists is intolerable, both as far as the depravity,
corruption violence and misconduct of the Police and the Judicial action
that is unfortunately supporting it all the way, with the dreadful fallout
resulting in INJUSTICE ALL THE WAY. Human rights have been defiled,
disrespected and destroyed and the Police are living up to the definition
which the Allahabad High Court coined for them-”Criminals in Uniform”-
this just has to change.
DATE : 10TH January 2011
We propose to briefly summarise the salient facts in respect of the
representative cases in order to amplify the basis of the findings arrived
at. This is also necessary from another angle in so far as the facts will
be illustrative of the manner in which the Police force has been
functioning in and around Mangalore city. We do not propose to set out
the names of the Complainants and witnesses for the obvious reason
that the police have the habit of violently hitting back at anybody who
exposes their atrocities and that is one of the reasons why the
Department has been getting away with criminal misconduct. The facts
however, will demonstrate what exactly the police have been up to.
CASE No.1:
The victim was falsely implicated on a murder charge in the year
1988 by SI Kempaiah. The illustrious SI thereafter moved up because
of his special talents and connections, became an SP and has now
retired from service. The false charge-sheet submitted by him could
obviously not be sustained and even though, 22 years have passed,
the case has not yet been heard and the victim has the trauma of a
murder charge hanging above his head. He has complained to the
Government and to the Department on 16 occasions asking for
action against Kempaiah but nothing has happened.
Firstly, the mere fact that the Department is unable to sustain the
charge for 22 years clearly indicates that it is a fabrication. Despite this
position, the Department has covered up for this Officer. Had action
been taken, the man should have been dismissed from service instead
of which, he is rewarded for such misconduct, promoted and allowed to
retire and is obviously being further rewarded for the rest of his life
through a pension. This is dangerous because false implication is a
serious criminal offence, it is indulged in by the police repeatedly and
regularly in order to harass, blackmail and terrorize and if it is not curbed,
the consequences to the citizens are grave.
CASE No.2:
The victim in this case had submitted complaints to the local police,
the then SP Satish Kumar and to DIG – Prasad that his little shop was
being repeatedly attacked by anti-social elements. He has indicated
the names of the persons and the vehicle numbers of the two wheelers
used by them. 27 such incidents had taken place over a period of
three months. He has sustained considerable loss of property due to
these attacks, despite which, the Department has neither registered a
single FIR not taken action against any of the culprits who are well known
criminals. The matter was reported to the DIG, nothing was done by
him and the SP instigated the criminals to STEP-UP THE ATTACKS.
The interesting feature of this case is that the citizen finally mobilised
his own resources and got a few of this own friends to arm themselves
against such attacks and when the culprits found that they would be
severely beaten, if they continued their criminal activities, the trouble
This is a familiar situation where the Department is taken care of
by a mafia don who happened to be the boss of the culprits. The victim
is left with absolutely no redressal and the serious part of the matter is
that even if complaints are directed higher, where there is a thoroughly
corrupt SP like Satish Kumar, the situation gets further worsened. In
this case, when the DIG repeatedly questioned Satish Kumar, he stated
that the culprits and the vehicles were not traceable which statement
was inherently false. A normal citizen has no capacity to move higher
than the District level and the bottom line therefore is that the presence
of the police is not only useless but worthless in this class of cases.
The aggravating factor is that not only is there no redressal for the injury
but the victim runs a serious risk of violent revenge action from the
Police Department if the matter is agitated further.
CASE No.3:
The victim in this case had parked his car in a designated parking
area when a Police Constable turned up, abused him for no reason and
threatened him that he would be taken to the Police Station if he did not
part with money. On his refusal, he was forcibly taken to the Police
Station and when he complained to the Inspector- in-charge, the Officer
abused him in filthy language and told him to pay up the money or else,
that he would be arrested and put in the lock-up on the ground that he
had misbehaved with a member of the Police force. Once he was in the
Police Station, he was taken inside, slapped and all the money that was
on his person was taken away and he was told that if he lodges any
complaint, his legs would be broken.
This case is very representative of the real functioning of the Police
Department. Instead of maintaining Law and Order or doing their
designated duties, the Constables are on the look out for victims at all
times in order to extort money. It is not difficult for them to catch hold of
vulnerable persons from time to time, to use abusive language and
muscle power and drag the victim to the Police Station, if they do not
part with enough of money. The highlight of this case is that the reason
why the Police went after the Complainant was because they were
helping themselves to fruit and other eatables from the roadside hawkers
and the Complainant had asked them not to exploit these poor persons.
We take a serious view of this aspect of police misbehavior because
such exploitation has become the order of the day and the victims are
petty traders who are living hand to mouth and they have absolutely no
defence against such anti-social behavior on the part of the police. It is
also representative of how very dangerous it is when a law abiding citizen
is dragged to a Police Station.
CASE No.4:
The Jury was informed by a bunch of witnesses of the total
communalization and saffronisation of the Police Department ever since
the present BJP Government came to power and of the manner in which
the Journalistic community has been targeted. Virtual terror tactics have
been employed by the Police Stations and the Police personnel in the
full confidence that the Courts would fully back them up. This was the
universal complaint of all those who were present and the names of two
Police Officers – SP Satish Kumar and Inspector – Jayant Shetty headed
the list of Officers who had been running wild in the Department. They
had been able to withstand complaints to the authorities at any level
because they had the full backing of the Chief Minister and the Home
Minister. After a long period of horrifying atrocities and corruption, SP
Satish Kumar was shifted to another District whereas Jayant Shetty
has been promoted!
The Journalistic fraternity pointed out that these two Officers had
started a trend in the City and in the District whereby ALL victims who
landed in Police Stations were stripped naked and submitted to horrifying
tortures. This sadistic and perverse behaviour of these two Officers
quickly caught on and has become the order of the day in the District.
At least 22 persons who had been victimized in this manner have
supported this version. Also, these two Officers were involved in sadistic
levels of violence in public places and they got away with it because
anybody who complained was picked up, STRIPPED NAKED, beaten
up and implicated in false cases.
The implications of these cases are extremely grave because it is
only the media or rather the bold and independent section of the media
who can expose police atrocities and if Officers like Satish Kumar and
Jayant Shetty use abnormal levels of violence and falsely implicate the
Complainants and then get away with such atrocities, then it is quite
obvious as to how they run wild in the District. What is disturbing is the
fact that when such corrupt and criminal Police Officers have the personal
support and backing of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister and in
this case above all the Palak Minister of the District whose name was
repeatedly figuring, no complaints at any level can bring them to book.
What is worse is the fact that it also shows what sort of sexual
perverts these Police Officers turn into when they specialize in
humiliating persons by stripping them naked in the Police Stations
and getting sadistic delight by inflicting the inhuman forms of
torture on them by targeting their genitals. These pervert members
of the Police force totally disregard the physical injury and lifelong
damage that they are inflicting on the victims. We can only
summarise these tactics by defining them as a case of POLICE
CASE No.5:
In a very serious incident that took place in Karkala on 29.09.2009,
certain persons who were hostile to the victim came to his house and in
the presence of his wife and father took the victim to the nearby tank on
the ground that they wanted to discuss something. They forcibly
immersed him in the water and held him down till he was dead.
The family members are EYE-WITNESSES. Thereafter, they took the
body to the KMC hospital and reported that they had seen the victim
drowning, that they pulled him out of the water and asked the Doctors to
give him first-aid. The Doctors found the victim dead. The wife and the
father rushed to the Police Station and lodged a complaint which the
police refused to record as the Police had been taken care of. The
Complainants insisted that the Police register an offence of murder and
arrest the culprits who had been named, but the police refused to do
this. They also refused to claim the body until action according to Law
was taken as a result of which it remained in the hospital. The Accused
persons, claiming to be relations, took charge of the body after some
days, took it to the Church and had it buried. The Complainants moved
the higher authorities of the Police Department who also refused to act
in the matter, on the ground that the guilty persons had produced a
certificate from the hospital that the death was due to drowning. The
Complainants then filed a Petition in the High Court and the High Court
ordered that the body be exhumed. Surprisingly enough, though the
body was exhumed after several months, it was found intact because
the Hospital had treated it as an unclaimed body and embalmed it for
use by medical students. The High Court has ordered a fresh Post
Mortem examination but according to the police, the report is not available
for the last four months. The wife and the father point out that the police
have colluded with the murderers and have also abetted them in
destroying the evidence by recording a false cause of death and refusing
to act on the basis of the Complaint from the wife and father both of
whom are eye-witnesses to the murder.
In the majority of criminal cases which are pre-planned, the Police
are heavily bribed, as a result of which, they refuse to respond to any
emergency calls for help when the crime takes place. Secondly, they
refuse to register any complaint and experience has shown that the
police along with the Lawyers of the criminals who have committed the
offences, register a false cause of death and accord permission for the
disposal of the body. In all these cases, a sham post mortem examination
is conducted and the Doctor at the instance of the police and the Accused
records a false cause of death. All these ingredients are fully present in
this case and the Police heavily bank on the fact that even if at a belated
stage, the Courts Order a re-investigation, that nothing worth-while
transpires because the evidence is virtually dead by that point of time.
This case is a classic instance in which, had the FIR been registered at
the earliest point of time, even if the cause of death was indicated as
drowning, that would have been compatible with the evidence to the
effect that the Accused had forcibly immersed the deceased in the water.
This is a horrifying instance of miscarriage of justice where
the police are parties to the murder and to the destruction of
evidence both of which are serious criminal offences. It is only
hoped that when the Petition is disposed off by the High Court that
directions are issued to register offences against the culprits and the
Police Officers concerned and to proceed according to Law. It is cases
of this type that have completely destroyed whatever little public
confidence that existed with regard to the Police Department.
CASE No.6:
The Jury were given a detailed account of the Police violence at
Ullal on 06.10.2006 when the infamous Jayant Shetty along with
Inspector Shiva Kumar descended on the area and mercilessly assaulted
members of the Muslim community. This was followed by the Police
Officers ransacking every single muslim house and looting the jewellery,
money and valuables worth Crores of Rupees on the ground that they
were looking for Terrorists. From the documents that were produced, it
is quite clear that these atrocities did take place because they have
been elaborately recorded and produced before the higher authorities.
Unfortunately, the whole of the police force which was demonstrably
corrupt was also completely saffronised and muslims have therefore
been treated as their enemies. To what extent Shiva Kumar and Jayant
Shetty were aligned to the RSS was demonstrated from the fact that
their open threat over the months and years was that they would bring
the RSS musclemen to Ullal and let them loose on the Muslim community.
In order to defend themselves, Shetty and Shiva Kumar registered
false cases against the Complainants, arrested them, took them to the
Police Station where they were stripped naked and subjected to horrifying
torture. Since, these cases were inherently false, the State Human
Rights Commission presided over by the Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.R. Nayak
has passed severe strictures against these Police Officers and
recommended not only disciplinary action but a prosecution against them.
The State Government has taken no action but on the contrary, these
Officers have been promoted under the Special Orders of Chief Minister
Yediyurappa and Home Minister Acharya. The cases filed by the Police
were all dismissed whereas the Criminal Courts have taken cognizance
of two criminal cases filed against the Police Officers. Those cases are
pending, but unfortunately, on every date of hearing the Accused Police
Officers remain absent and the Magistrate cheerfully adjourns the case.
The Complainants who are risking their everything in order to see that
the Law takes its course against the errant Police Officers are being
driven to frustration / desperation by the Courts and the question posed
to the Jury is as to whether the citizens of this country can ever expect
the Rule of Law to be enforced by the Courts particularly against the
This case raises a host of important issues. Firstly, whether there
are any tangible solutions possible when the Police force is both corrupt
and completely saffronised. Secondly, when errant Police Officers are
protected through political patronage by equally corrupt Ministers where
does this leave the citizen ? Thirdly, when the victims of Police atrocities
are sought to be silenced by involving them in false cases whether this
is not the very height of injustice. Humorously enough, when these
cases fail, as they have to, the Judges smile and tell the aggrieved
victims that they are very fortunate that the case did not end in
conviction, that they should be thankful and not think in terms of
action for malicious prosecution.
The High Courts and the Supreme Court of India have consistently
held that the most deterrent sentences should be awarded in all cases
of police excesses, atrocities, violence, custodial deaths and above all,
corruption. The number of Courts who actually carry out this mandate
are few and far between. As Judge of the Karnataka High Court, in
eight such instances, Justice Saldanha has awarded the Police
Officers and the Constables the maximum sentences prescribed
under the Law, as also stinging fines/ compensation of Rs. Five
Lakhs each which were paid over to the victims as compensation
and in all these eight cases the Judgments have been confirmed
by the Supreme Court. It is absolutely essential that the Courts do
this more often. More importantly, directions have been issued to the
subordinate Courts to ensure that in any case, where there is a complaint
against the police, that it be properly looked into and where it is valid
and sustainable that not only should action be taken but that it should
be disposed off on a top priority basis and further more, that all the
support and protection which the Complainants and their witnesses
require must be afforded. What is really required to be done is that
in instances where the Departmental hierarchy and the Politicians
support the demonic Police Officers, all those persons should be
prosecuted. Even if it is for the first time, one such a test case is
taken up, the superior Police Officers and the Politicians will stop
abetting Police atrocities.
CASE No.7:
Once again, the name of Jayant Shetty figures in this case.
Brushing aside the relevant details, what stands out is the fact that in
connection with Jayant Shetty’s Bungalow which is his personal property
and the building material relating thereto, the Police Officer has instituted
a false prosecution by misusing his official position. On our analysis of
the case, we find that the facts clearly warrant action under the Prevention
of Corruption Act, but obviously, this Police Officer has terrorized
everybody in the District and he is still holding a prominent position in
the Police Department as a result of which, the victims dare not take
action against him and the Politicians who support him will obviously
not institute any steps. There is a second instance concerning the same
Police Officer pointed out to us wherein two persons have been involved
in a false prosecution. There is zero material against them and yet,
a charge-sheet has been filed and they have been required to attend
the Court for the last two and a half years. What was highlighted
was the fact that when a person is required to attend a Criminal Court,
they have to leave their jobs, business, personal duties and go and sit
in the Court Room invariably for the whole day, as otherwise, a Non
Bailable Warrant is issued by the Magistrate and the Bail is cancelled.
If the citizens of this country are to live in safety and in peace, it will
be very necessary to set up a machinery to control and punish Police
Officers of this type as the consequences of their action are absolutely
disastrous. Under the scheme of the Law and under the Constitution, it
is absolutely essential for the Courts to enforce the Law ruthlessly and
to punish the police in every single instance even if it is a misdemeanor.
There are as many as 203 Reported Judgments of the High Courts and
the Supreme Court mandating this, but unfortunately, the subordinate
Judiciary rubber stamps every action of the Police which is sending out
the wrong signals and encouraging Officers like Jayant Shetty to continue
with their demonic misbehavior.
Under the Criminal Procedure Code, it is mandatory for a Magistrate
to dismiss every single proceeding at the earliest point of time when
there is no case made out against the Accused. The Law Commission
has pointed out that in 97% of this category of cases, the case should
have been dismissed, the Accused discharged and action taken against
the Police for filing an unsustainable charge sheet. The lower Judiciary
has failed in its legal and constitutional obligations by allowing the cases
to drag on for anything from three years to seventeen years before they
are thrown out. Are these Judges and Magistrates going to
compensate the innocent citizens, whose lives have been ruined
through such proceedings?
CASE No.8:
This head of complaint concerns the Church attacks which made
National headlines as also International concern because the evidence
indicates that whereas the Bajrang Dal, the Ram Sene and other
Organisations were primarily held liable for the violence that the truth of
the matter is that in every single incident, it was the Police who led from
the front. The then DC – Mahabaleshwar Rao and the SP – Satish
Kumar, Inspectors – Jayant Shetty and Ganapathi were the stalwarts
who unleashed unmitigated violence on the members of the Christian
community. Among those who were beaten up, were the Head Mistress
of a school, an elderly nun, aged 87, a 69 year old lady who lost her eye
and thousands of innocent persons. It is a matter of record that the
injured persons whose number exceeds 792 in Mangalore City
alone, many of whom suffered serious head injuries, fractures and
other bodily injuries including near death experience because of
poisonous gas that was released from teargas shells that were used
years after their expiry dates and it has been pointed out by the
victims and their representatives that over 1180 written complaints
were lodged with the various Police Stations that not one FIR has
been registered. On the other hand, a 106 false cases have been
registered by the Police Department to defend themselves and over
2000 persons have been involved in these false cases, 38% of whom
are students who careers have been ruined, housewives, teachers,
self employed persons (a mechanic who is starving because he
was in custody for three months and his little business has
collapsed and 29 auto drivers who were thrown out of their jobs
because they were in custody for long periods). A responsible Priest
who has appeared before the Justice Somashekar Commission has
deposed before us on the basis of irrefutable material and we have
scrutinized the facts and the data and we have no hesitation in accepting
the correctness thereof.
Though the Church attacks issue is the matter of separate
investigation, it figures prominently here because it illustrates how the
State Machinery which is supposed to respect the Law and enforce it
through the Police Department turns into the Law breaker and how the
victims are denied Justice and at the same time, are hauled over the
coals on the ground that they are criminals. It was pointed out to us that
in every one of these false cases, the Police made it a point to include
half a dozen serious Non-Bailable Offences and the Magistrates
indiscriminately refused Bail. It was only after months that these poor
victims who had been falsely involved and arrested could be released
and after that, they are required to regularly attend the Courts. Over
200 students who were falsely involved have missed their exams, their
careers are ruined and they run the serious risk of being dismissed from
the educational institution on the ground that serious criminal charges
are pending against them. The implications of how serious this aspect
of the police action is will be demonstrated from what we have pointed
CASE No.9:
In this case, a civil dispute is being agitated between two neighbours
over a particular area of land which concerns the erection of gates. As
often happens, one of the parties bribes the Police and asks them to
interfere and they promptly do it as an arm-twisting measure. When the
Civil Court is seized of the matter in a Civil Case, that Judicial Forum
has all the powers to pass Orders both Interim and Final. We have also
found that there is absolutely no Law and Order problem that has arisen
in this case, despite which, without any justification, the Police have
intervened, taken sides and even beaten up the Opposite Party and
collected a huge amount of money from them under the threat that they
will be locked up. While the Law and Order situation has reached a
point of complete breakdown, it was pointed out to us that the Police
Stations are busy involving themselves with property disputes, business
disputes even husband and wife matrimonial disputes, the bottom-line
being that wherever there is money or property involved, that the police
get very active.
The Law Commission had occasion to point out that when the data
was evaluated while the Police force contended that they are under
staffed, ill-equipped and unable to cope with the burden of maintaining
the Law and Order, that the facts indicated that on a National level, it
was found that in 92% of CIVIL DISPUTES the Police Department
abdicates its primary functions of maintaining law and order and
investigating Criminal Cases, in favour of involvements in personal and
property disputes, that they evict tenants for a fat fee from the landlords,
that they involve themselves in every conceivable aspect of society
where they can make money and this gate case is illustrative of such
dereliction of duty and misuse of power and rank corruption.
CASE No.10:
This case relates to the month of March 2006 and is approximately
4 ½ years old. Pursuant to the death of a married woman, the police
interrogated the husband as he was the prime suspect. Not surprisingly,
the man made a deal with the Police and they go and arrest one of the
neighbours on the murder charge placing reliance on a Statement of
the husband implicating him. There was zero evidence in this case, but
since the charge was under Section 302 IPC, Bail was denied to the
Accused and he was retained in custody. Every application made for
discharge of the Accused on the ground that there is absolutely no
evidence against him was mechanically rejected by the Court on a
peculiar ground namely that the case is triable by the Court of Sessions
and that the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to examine the merits. After
almost three years, the Judge changes and so does the Investigating
Officer. The Court then realizes that the Cr.PC mandates the filing of
the Charge-sheet within 90 days which the Police have not done and
further more, that when the Police were questioned, they admitted that
they have no evidence against the Accused, the case was closed and
the Accused was discharged. He was running a small sweets business
with 18 workers. When he was arrested, there was nobody to run the
business and all the 18 persons lost their jobs. After he was released,
since the business had totally collapsed and some other person had
forcibly occupied the premises, the Accused could not resume his
business and was reduced to pauperism. He was a married man with
three children and the entire family has been completely ruined. Neither
the Court nor the Police nor the State are bothered about the horrifying
consequences of what they have done.
Once again, we need to go back to the Law Commission Reports
wherein it has been repeatedly pointed out that there is a tendency on
the part of the Police to adopt short-cuts. When a serious crime has
been committed, some poor person, usually a servant or a watchman is
picked up, mercilessly tortured and a Police statement issued that he
has confessed to the offence. Some incriminating evidence such as a
knife, blood stained clothes or so-called recovery of property is fabricated
and there are instances in which the Accused who are poor and cannot
afford competent defence, end up on the gallows. The more fortunate
ones receive a life sentence and the small number of extremely fortunate
ones are acquitted if providence provides them with a good and
competent Judge who is also conscientious, which is a rarity. This case
is very illustrative of all these factors and above all of what happens
when a poor person comes out of the Court or the Jail and is ruined for
life despite being completely innocent. While the culprits are the police
in uniform, the real responsibility and culpability in these cases
lies with the Judiciary which is responsible for the dereliction of
duty and these horrifying results. The Law provides for
Compensatory action but in less than 1% of the cases is this
awarded and when it is done, it is usually an absurd or beggarly
figure of about Rs.1000!
CASE No.11
This case concerns a Pastor from a small town against whom a
case was registered on the allegation that he had attempted to convert
a person. This was done at the instance of the local saffron brigade.
He was retained in custody for two months which is totally against the
Law and the records shows that the Police objected to Bail at the instance
of their saffron masters on the ground that the feelings have run very
high in the area and that there will be a serious Law and Order problem
if he is released. When the Pastor was released on Bail, the Police
insisted that he must report at the Police Station every Sunday morning.
The Pastor pointed out to the Court that he has his Church duties on
Sunday mornings, but the Judge refused to change the Order on the
ground that the Police are objecting. This reporting required the Pastor
to come to the Police Station at 8.00 a.m. every Sunday and he is
made to wait there for at least three hours on the ground that the
staff are not available, as a result of which, for ten years, he has
not been able to attend to his religious duties. The incident is of
15.03.2000 and the case has not been taken up on the ground that the
Complainant is not traceable – obviously because it is a fabricated case.
When an application was made to the higher Court requesting that since
the Pastor is a permanent resident of that place, he has a house and
family there and the requirement of reporting should be relaxed or
changed to some other day, the Sessions Court dismissed the Application
on the ground that if any variation is asked for, the Bail will be cancelled.
There cannot be a more vindictive or PEVERSE order.
One of the repeated Complaints from the litigants as also from
responsible members of the Bar is to the effect that the Magistrates
in Criminal Cases, by and large, instead of impartially evaluating
the material, assessing the correctness or otherwise of the
allegations and being vigilant in cases where it is obvious that the
charge has been fabricated, are abdicating their Judicial duties
and virtually rubber stamping whatever the police produce before
them. In case after case, the Court has shown absolutely Zero respect
for the Law, fairness and Human Rights or for the liberty of the citizen
and have been indiscriminately curtailing the liberty of an innocent person
who has no capacity to protest or to take counter steps. This case is a
classic illustration of the fact that even where the injustice is pointed out
to the higher forum that it is summarily rejected because the attitude, as
one goes higher becomes more callous.
CASE No.12
Not surprisingly, there was a whole host of complaints with regard
to Police harassment and victimization of Christians. Specific instances
were cited not by the dozen but by the hundred in support of such
persecution not by the members of Parties and Organisations who
profess communal hatred but at the instance of the Police Department
which has taken over the role of such persecutions. The explanation
given by the Police Officers, though oral, when questioned by social
workers and NGOs is that they receive telephonic communications which
have emanated from Bangalore, not from the Police Headquarters but
from the Home Ministry and the Home Minister himself. One of the
directions that have come directly from Home Minister Acharya to the
Police Stations after the Church attack cases is that every Police Station
must record a specified number of so-called conversion cases and that
incentives should be provided to organizations and individuals who
institute such cases. This is not an empty allegation because the records
fully substantiate this position. In the City of Mangalore alone where
this was being overdone in five separate cases, the so-called
Complainants were questioned at public forums such as this one and
they have openly admitted that they were asked to give a false statement.
These allegations are 100% true and justified and they pose a
very serious danger because they indicate total misuse of the Police
machinery by the Government of the State. What has added to the
problem is the fact that on as many as 17 occasions in the last two
years where Public Interest Petitions were filed before the Karnataka
High Court, the Petitions have been summarily dismissed and the sad
part of it is that nine of them were by a Catholic Chief Justice and the
other eight by a Christian Chief Justice against whom serious charges
of corruption were made and who is facing impeachment proceedings.
The first of the two is now in the Supreme Court but he had a track
record in the Karnataka High Court of dismissing every PIL against the
State. Not only does the situation require serious reforms in the working
of the Police Department bur more importantly, a total overhaul of the
working of the higher judiciary.
CASE No.13:
This is a really pathetic case of a Bank employee against whom a
Criminal Complaint was lodged by the Bank that they SUSPECT his
implication in a case of cash shortage. The Police arrest the man and
retaining him for custody for six months periodically subjecting him to
inhuman torture. The amount involved is supposed to be Rs.900/-, the
incident is of the year 2003 and the Bank has reconciled the accounts
which establishes that the Complaint itself was false. The Bank refuses
to withdraw the complaint on the ground that it will get into problems.
The employee is under suspension for seven years on the ground that
the case is pending. On every date of hearing, nobody remains present
and the Court continues to adjourn the case. More than a dozen
applications have been made to the Court that the case be closed and
the Accused be discharged as neither the Police nor the witnesses
remain present but the Judge refuses to do this. On two occasions,
when Applications were made to the higher Court, they were rejected
on the ground that it is for the Trial Court to decide whether the Case
should be closed or not.
The Citizens of this state are required to believe that the Courts
are Institutions of Justice. This is just one more instance where the
definition has gone wrong and injustice of the grossest level has occurred.
In the first instance, there was no material to register an FIR and even if
this proceeded on the basis of the Bank’s complaint, there was no ground
for the police to object to Bail for six months. The Accused is not a
hardened criminal. The amount involved is a petty Rs.900/- and if at all,
he was involved, he would have admitted it in the first few minutes of
police torture and when this did not happened for as long as six months,
there was no ground to still file a Charge-sheet, more so because when
the Bank reconciled the records, it was found that the Complaint was
unjustified. It was criminal negligence on the part of the police not to
have verified this fact.
Nothing can condone what has happened in the Court room with
the Magistrate mechanically adjourning the case for 7 ½ years despite
the fact that neither the police nor the witnesses remained present. The
Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial and more importantly,
the Supreme Court and the High Courts have in the last ten years
repeatedly enforced this right. There is zero justification for what has
happened before the Court. One of the problems faced by the citizens
of this country is that any complaint made against the Courts or the
Judges is construed as an act of Contempt and this is the reason why
even the media is terrorized into silence even when incidents of this
type take place thousands of times every year in every State. The
Judiciary is the first institution to preach about the sacred principles of
accountability and it is now time for drastic reforms in the working of the
Courts. The public confidence in these institutions has fallen rapidly
and this is the strongest barometer of the fact that there can be no delay
with regard to correctives.
CASE No.14:
PUCL Dakshina Kannada is required to deal with cases of police
misconduct, excesses and violence almost everyday and Mr. P. B. D’Sa
recounted to us the fact that the number of incidents has been growing
and the gravity of these incidents have also been increasing, both of
which, are a matter of serious concern. One of the first heads which he
brought to our notice was the fact that all over the District, over the last
two years, there have been repeated attacks on persons transporting
cattle. The allegation on every occasion is that the cattle are being
taken to a slaughter house. The persons in the vehicle are beaten up
and vehicle along with the cattle is taken to the Police Station.
Immediately, the Police mercilessly assault all those who are in the
vehicle, register an offence that they are cattle thiefs and put them into
the lock up. The vehicle is impounded and it is a costly and uphill task
to get the vehicle released and to even get a bail order. The victims in
all these cases are very poor and small persons who are transporters.
They are deprived of all their money and belongings, they suffer injuries,
they are unable to attend to their business for days and weeks and are
subjected to horrible exploitation from the police and the lawyers. In
about 40% of the cases, it has been demonstrated that the animal in
question was being taken to the hospital or back, or that it had been
purchased or that it was on the way to the market for being sold. The
entire allegation regarding the slaughter house is totally false in these
cases. Secondly, the evidence indicates that cattle which is old or surplus
or unwanted is sold to the traders for meat. This is a perfectly legal and
legitimate business and it is not for a group of vigilantes to use muscle
power whenever they see cattle being transported and to drag persons
to the Police Stations. The Police have been encouraging this activity
because the evidence indicates that in each and every case where
the cattle have been taken to the Police Station, they have prepared
a false document that the owner has taken it back, whereas in fact,
the persons who have illegally impounded the cattle have always
sold it to the BUTCHERS. This is bad enough in the case of cattle that
was being taken for slaughter but in several of the other cases where it
is domestic cattle, it is a tremendous loss to the owners to loose a
valuable cow or a bull. This has become a lucrative business and instead
of preventing it, the police all over the District have been encouraging it.
This is one more instance of the Police misusing their power and
functioning in partnership with those indulging in illegal activity. What is
atrocious is the fact that a pretence is being made that the animals in
question are sacred whereas the very gangs involved in this activity
have sold each and every one of the heads of cattle to the butchers.
One of the reasons for the breakdown of the law and order situation in
the District is because a class of people take the law into their own
hands. This is referred to as “Goondaism” and is a cognizable offence.
Where the police join hands with such elements, it is an extremely serious
matter and as a cover for this criminal activity, it is sought to be given a
religious ground or a cover. The disaster story does not end there,
because on every occasion, when the victims have complained to
the Court that the seizure of the cattle was unauthorized and that it
should be returned to them, the Applications have been dismissed
with every Magistrate accepting the false version put up by the
Police that they have no facility to retain live animals at the Police
Station and that the animals were returned to the owners because
they insisted on it. We need to further point out that these are large
animals and that in two of the identical incidents which took place during
the Church attacks and an attempt was made to retrieve the animal that
it was found to be too late because it had already been slaughtered and
the Purchasers admitted having paid Rs.11,000/- and Rs.14,000/-
respectively for the animal. This nothing short of rank dacoity with police
patronage and partnership.
CASE No.15:
On the basis of complaints from the victims who have actually been
subjected to horrifying levels of sadistic torture, PUCL has investigated
and found that there are as many as four torture chambers set up by the
Police in Mangalore town itself. These places are reminiscent of the
nazi killing camps. PUCL has taken the matter up with the Police
Department, the Home Department and the State Human Rights
Commission. Whereas the first two have not disputed the position, the
SHRC has passed strictures against the Department on at least a dozen
occasions but to no effect.
While it is often argued that in the case of hardened criminals or in
the case of property offences like theft or violent crimes etc. that it is
necessary to resort to third degree methods in the course of investigation,
the well settled position in Law is that this is totally and completely
prohibited and is a very serious infringement of human rights. The State
of Karnataka and the Police Department in the State seem to have
overlooked the basic fact that even a criminal has rights. From the
cases listed out by us above itself it will be seen that in as high as 75%
of the cases, the person arrested by the Police is both poor and innocent
and these torture chambers are used to extort false confessions and
then to deceive the general public that the offence has been solved and
the culprits arrested. Either ways, there is zero justification for these
torture chambers because neither the Law nor the Constitution permits
CASE No.15
Once again, PUCL has reported as many as eleven custodial deaths
from the Mangalore sub-jail alone in the last two years. On every
occasion, the Police have covered up the case by producing a false
medical certificate from the Government Doctors who have certified that
the death was due to shock. In one of the cases where the police had
virtually hanged a young man in order to frighten him but he accidentally
died in the process, they produced a fabricated note stating that he had
committed suicide in the Police lock up. Though, PUCL has agitated
these cases, it has not been possible to get any action taken against
those responsible only because the Police have covered their tracks
through false Post Mortems and Medical Certificates.
The Supreme Court while dealing with custodial death cases has
laid down that whenever a person dies in custody, a presumption shall
arise against the State and the Police Officers concerned and that no
Court should accept false and fabricated Medical Certificates. This is a
very serious matter and we need to record that Karnataka State has the
worst record of custodial deaths. Right through his tenure as Home
Minister, Acharya covered up for his Police Department in every case of
custodial death, misusing his position as a Doctor and stating that the
Police had no hand in what happened. What was even worse was
when 63 inmates of the Beggars Home in Bangalore died because
of infection and filthy contaminated food fed to them by the State
authorities and where the post mortem reports conclusively
indicated that these poor persons had died as a result of criminal
negligence on the part of the State authorities, Dr. Acharya has
officially gone on record to insist that the deaths were due to natural
causes. When the Police have a god father of this type, it is not surprising
that Karnataka has the highest number of custodial deaths for any State
in the country. Again, where the State Human Rights Commission has
passed 1426 Orders containing strictures of the highest order against
the State Government in Human Rights Offences, the Chief Minister,
the Home Minister and the whole of the State Government have ignored
those Orders. On the other hand, despite 46 Petitions having been filed
before the Karnataka High Court in this class of cases, all 46 of them
have been dismissed. This is a pathetic record and it is because of
such Orders that the Police are encouraged to keep on torturing and
killing people because they know that nothing will happen to them.
We need to observe here that a lot of thought will have to be
bestowed to this category of cases because there is no doubt whatsoever
that if a healthy person dies in police custody that an adverse
presumption arises against the Police. We also concede that when the
torture levels consistently go beyond any capacity of endurance that
the victims could be driven to suicide but the IPC itself prescribes that
the abatement of suicide is punishable with a very stringent jail sentence.
It must be mandated that in any such case, the Police shall not be
permitted to obtain false certificates from the Government Doctors who
most of the time are their partners in crime. An independent post
mortem by a Non Government Authority such as the Head of the
Department of a Medical College should be directed to do the Post
Mortem examination and in order to make it fool proof, it must be
prescribed that two such independent examinations must be done.
Also, the Police invariably ensure that the body is hastily disposed off.
For purposes of safety, it must be mandated that the body will have to
be embalmed and preserved for a prescribed period of time, so that, if
the Police have been able to Doctor the independent post mortems that
there will still be scope to get at the truth.
The Jury was unanimous with regard to its conclusions which are
summarized below:
(a) That despite the fact that there had been a few communal
eruptions in the area in the past, that the earlier State
Government had taken all essential measures to control the
situation. Unfortunately, after the present BJP Government
came to power, there was a sudden eruption of anti-minority
violence. Instead of containing, controlling and eliminating
this feature, that the State Government provided official
patronage to all those involved in this activity with open support
from the Home Minister and the Chief Minister.
(b) That the immediate fall out of this situation was that the Police
force got completely communalized and started not only
protecting the violence perpetrators but going to the extent of
targeting the minorities. In the Church attacks that took place,
it was the police in all the incidents who led the violent attacks.
Investigations revealed that not only was every instance of
lathi charge unprovoked and unjustified, but that each of these
incidents had been carefully planned with the police
themselves arranging with the culprits to bring tempos full of
rock pebbles which are not available in the area from the river
beds and these were the lethal missiles that were used to
start each incident. In all the cases where teargas was used,
it was disclosed that the shells were beyond the expiry dates
by 4 to 8 years, as a result of which, the gas had turned toxic
and poisonous with long term damaging consequences to the
victims. When questioned, the State and the Police had no
(c) Some of the newspapers and magazines have been openly
exhorting anti-communal activities through their writings. Not
a single instance of action against the individuals or
publications under Section 153A has been taken. The heads
of the Bajrang Dal and the Ram Sene have not only admitted
their part in anti-minority violence of which there have been a
couple of hundred cases in the Karavali area with not a single
person being even arrested. Interestingly, it has come on
record that it was the victims who have been arrested in the
majority of these cases. One of the prominent leaders
during the Dasara of 2008, issued a Statement that
“instead of doing the Ayudha Pooja for your items of trade
and machinery, this year the Pooja should be to the knives,
daggers and swords.”
(d) While the Police were quick to register false and unsustainable
cases by the dozen against Editor Seetharam and members
of the minority community and to obtain Non Bailable Warrants
and target innocent persons on unsustainable charges, in a
series of complaints lodged against the Writers of Inflammatory
Communalistic Articles where conclusive evidence existed,
the Police have closed the cases on the ground that no offence
has been made out.
(e) As far as the Muslim community was concerned, the Police
have been brutally targeting individual muslims, entering their
homes, violently assaulting them, looting property and
valuables and indiscriminately arresting them on grounds of
involvement in terrorist activities. Long periods of custody
have followed and there has not been a single case in which
the police have substantiated the allegations.
(f) There has been an abnormally high degree of custodial deaths,
custodial violence on the part of the police and violence against
members of the minority community while in custody and in
not one of theses, an offence has been registered. On the
other hand, particularly after the Church attacks, over a
thousand false and unsustainable cases have been registered
against members of the minority community particularly
Christians, Bail was opposed, they were retained in custody
and even though, every one of these prosecutions was
unsustainable, the State and the Police Department are still
proceeding with those prosecutions in the course of which,
thousands of lives have been ruined.
(g) There has been a sharp rise in the police interfering in cases
where cattle transport was involved with the animals being
confiscated and false cases booked by the Police at the
instance of communal elements. The State Human Rights
Commission has passed severe strictures on at least a dozen
(h) The levels of brutal violence demonstrated by members of the
Police force has been disturbing with four specialized torture
chambers having been set up in Mangalore city alone for this
(i) It has been demonstrated that the corruption levels in the Police
Department have reached an all time high with the police
themselves actively being involved in the commission of
offences by colluding with the Criminals refusing to render
assistance to the victims, refusing to register complaints and
covering up for the offences even to the extent of fabricating
false evidence. Even in those of the instances where specific
evidence is provided by Complainants, the Police have refused
to accept it and refused to act. The most lucrative business
for the Police Department is by interfering illegally in High
Stake Civil Cases.
(j) That in the case of serious instances like custodial deaths
and injuries caused while in custody, false medical certificates
have been fabricated by the Police in order to cover up for
their atrocities and shield the members of the force responsible
for these crimes.
(k) That there have been an abnormal number of false cases
registered against members of the Christian community after
the BJP Government came to power and Home Minister
Acharya issued directions to every Police Station to issue a
prescribed number of such cases every month. Whereas prior
to 2008, there was not a single such complaint or
conviction in the State, in the last two years, over 7500
such offences have been registered.
(l) In those of the false cases where leaders of the Muslim
community had been beaten up and targeted not to mention
illegally confined for long periods and the false prosecutions
have failed no action has been taken against the errant police
officers. Wherever counter prosecutions have been launched,
the Police remain absent on every date of hearing and the
Courts cover up for them. Also, in the prosecution launched
against members of the minority community, the charge-sheets
are not filed for abnormally long periods of time, the Police
and the witnesses are absent on every date of hearing and
the cases never end.
(m) In sharp contrast, whereas as an eye-wash, a few arrests are
made against members of the majority community, the Courts
are ever willing to grant anticipatory Bail, whereas no member
of the minority community even gets anticipatory Bail or gets
Bail for weeks and months. This is a serious reflection on the
impartiality of the subordinate judiciary. Again, in thousands
of cases where the victims have complained of torture and
assault and human rights violations while in custody, in not
even one of those cases, have the Courts either entertained
the Complaints, examined it or taken any action. This is a
very serious breach of the Law on the part of the subordinate
(n) Even in the instance of those of the Police Officers like Satish
Kumar, Jayant Shetty and Ganpathi where the Departmental
Enquiry has recorded misconduct of the highest order, the
Home Minister and the Chief Minister have not only exonerated
them but they have been rewarded with promotions. The same
applies to the Jailor from Mangalore who involved in the
horrifying incidents of violence in the Jail who was exonerated
and personally rewarded with a promotion by the Home
(o) The image of the Police Department in the Karavali area is at
an all time low. The public confidence in the police is absolutely
zero. The police are regarded as parasites and persons to be
feared and hated and they are principally responsible for the
break down of the law and order situation in the region because
of the open collusion with criminals and mafia dons and total
protection afforded to communal elements and those involved
in anti social activity.
(p) That the confidence in the subordinate judiciary has also gone
to zero with the impression being created that there is no justice
for the citizen in these institutions and that the Courts are totally
on the side of the Law breakers. This is a serious reflection
on the Judiciary, but unfortunately, there has been ample cause
for it.
(q) That as far as the role of the Police and the Courts in the
Mangalore SEZ cases are concerned, it can best be described
as horrifying. The victims in all these cases were the poorest
of the poor, Christians, Adivasis and Tribals. Every conceivable
form of illegality, muscle power and criminal activity not to
mention violence was let loose on these poor persons and the
Police headed these activities targeted this distressed state
of society, refused them any protection or relief and openly
covered up for the law breakers. The Bajpe Police Station
and for that matter the District Police Administration were
functioning at all times as a unit of the SEZ. Undoubtedly,
there was a lot of money to be made but the trail of human
woe and misery is shameful and unforgettable. One of the
specific roles played by the Police was to register unlimited
number of false cases not only against the victims but against
anybody who came to their assistance which included Swami
Agnivesh and Justice M.F. Saldanha. Non Bailable Warrants
were indiscriminately obtained and executed by the Police
Department. We cannot condone the role of the subordinate
Judiciary as unfortunately even the higher Judiciary, because
16 PILs have been summarily dismissed by the Karnataka
High Court. When the Union Government examines the sad
question as to how and why poor farmers, Tribals and Adivasis
have been turned into Naxalites and Maoists they will find the
answer in cases like the Mangalore SEZ.
The Editor – Seetharam Case figured very prominently during
the Enquiry- The Editor himself gave evidence and produced all the
supporting documents. merits special mention because initially the Police
had tried to kill him and his wife in a fake encounter which failed, that he
was arrested on a false and unsustainable charge that every cannon of
Law was flouted when he was chained and produced in Court and the
horrifying aspect that emerged when the Magistrate refused him Bail at
night. The record also indicates that every attempt was made to eliminate
him by shifting him from the Udupi Hospital to Mangalore on the Orders
of the son of the Home Minister (who was then more powerful than the
father) when his health condition was very low in a vehicle driven in
such a manner that the ride would normally have proved fatal and then,
because he survived despite his B.P. being 190 / 100, a midnight attempt
to hand him over to hardened criminals in the Mangalore Sub-jail and
when this was stopped by PUCL, he was again shifted at dead of night
through an eight hour ride over horribly broken up roads which the State
Government is famous for and then another attempt at Mysore to send
him to the Jail instead of the Hospital which again failed because of
PUCL are all instances that totally condemn the State Government, the
Home Minister and the Police Department. The role of the Judiciary
has been disappointing and pathetic and the question still being
asked in legal circles is how the Police obtained nine Non Bailable
Warrants against the Editor with the Magistrates willingly passing
these Orders on virtually zero material. The Press Council of India,
the State Human Rights Commission and the Karnataka High Court
have recorded concurrent findings against the Police Department and
the State Government as also the Judicial misconduct involved. In the
light of those findings / observations, all that can be said is that this
entire chapter was an abrogation of the Law, it was malicious, vicious,
criminal and something that should never have happened in a democracy.
(a) The situation is abnormally grave and it is necessary for the
Central Government and the State Government to take serious
note of these findings, a copy of this Report should be officially
sent to the Union Home Minister, the Governor, the Chief Minister
and the Home Minister of the State as also to the D.G. Police as
immediate corrective steps are required to be taken. The
members of the Christian community and the Muslim community
have essentially been at the receiving end and this will have to
be stopped with adequate measures taken to respect their human
rights and ensure that their constitutional guarantees are safeguarded.
(b) That a copy of this Report be forwarded to the Chief Justice of
India and to the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court because
the role of the Judiciary, mainly the subordinate Judiciary but in
several of the instances, the District Level Judiciary and even the
High Court has come in for sharp criticism, one of the instances
being that 27 PILs have been summarily dismissed by the
Karnataka High Court and even in cases relating to police
atrocities and wrongful detentions, no reliefs have been granted.
Deep seated correctives are therefore essential at all the three
STOPPED. The same applies to the illegal refusal of Bail and the
totally illegal practice of deferring Bail applications indefinitely.
(c) As an immediate measure, the State Government must set up
Forums at the District level and the State level where individuals
and their representatives such as the PUCL will be able to point
out specific instances of police atrocities and misconduct not to
mention corruption and these complaints will have to be examined
and if public confidence is to be restored, stringent action against
the culprits will have to follow. For this purpose, it is recommended
that these Forums should have a monthly dialogue with the
People’s representatives where the action taken will have to be
made public.
(d) Similarly, it is recommended that at the District and State level,
the Judiciary must set up a Grievance Cell which will be presided
over by a Judge who will entertain complaints of miscarriage of
Justice (eg. Refusal to hear urgent applications, deferring Orders
for abnormally long periods of time and exhibition of open bias
and corruption) and the action taken will have to be made public
within a month, so that, there is total transparency of functioning.
(e) Specifically in the fields of Women’s Rights, atrocities and violence
against women and Human Rights, specific and time-bound action
is required from the State Government with a Public assurance
that these areas will be respected and protected by the Police.
(f) If public confidence in the Rule of Law is to be restored, a few of
the errant Police and Judicial officers will have to be Disciplined
and if necessary punished in the public interest.
While this Report does to some extent read like a disaster or a
horror story, it is an honest examination and a record of the
situation that exists which could not have been more distressing
or horrifying. It is close to malignancy and therefore, calls for
immediate correctives. It was not long ago, i.e. just 30 years
back that the Karnataka Police were rated as the second best
in the country and today, Transparency International has
listed them as being the worst in the country. The Judiciary is
a revered institution and is the last resort of the citizen particularly
as far as Justice, Human Liberty and Fundamental Rights are
concerned and it is very essential that the disturbing features
which have manifested themselves must be eliminated. It is to
this institution alone at all levels that every citizen looks up to and
if there is to be real justice emanating from the Courts, a drastic
overhaul both in attitude and functioning is absolutely essential.


An afternoon of cultural protest by artists, musicians, poets, film directors and writers against the persecution of Dr Binayak Sen will be held on 15th January at Jantar Mantar from 2-7 PM under the banner of ‘Artists for Human Rights’.

Among those participating are well-known filmmakers, musicians, singers, poets and students bands from colleges and universities in Delhi.

Filmmakers: Aparna Sen, Gautam Ghose and Sudhir Mishra

Musicians: Rabbi Shergill, Susmit Bose and Dhruv Sangari

Poets and writers: Ashok Vajpeyi, K.Satchidanandan, Kumarnarain, Mangalesh Dabral, Gagan Gill, Sanjay Kundan, Teji Grover, Khursheed Alam, Mukul Priyadarshini and Gauhar Raza.

Bands: Imphal Talkies, Sangwari and other students bands

All are invited to come and attend the protest.

For further information contact:

Satya Sivaraman: Ph: 9818514952

Apoorvanand: 27662146

Manisha Sethi: 9811625577

Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (

Flag this message Memo to Amnesty International regarding rights violations of prisoners and political dissenters

Memorandum to Amnesty International regarding violations of rights of
prisoners and political dissenters taking place with impunity in
Punjab in the recent times‏

AMRITSAR, Jan 4, 2010

Hoping that the New Year may bring forth more respect for human rights
world-wide and may many more countries abolish death penalty as a
result of sustained campaign by Amnesty, the Dal Khalsa organization
has shot off a letter to the Director of Amnesty International appealing him to
look into the human rights violations of prisoners & political
dissenters in the state as Punjab continues to reel under custodial torture,
illegal detention, harassment and long confinement in jails.

In a 5 page letter addressed to the international watchdog’s Head
Office in London, the Sikh group has asked to raise its concern about
the human rights situation in Punjab “as we continue to live in
dangerous times”.

Full text of the letter:

We write with hope that Amnesty International would recognize the
violation of rights of prisoners and political dissenters, taking
place with impunity in Punjab in the recent times.

As we still live in the shadows of a past under the brutal jackboots
of the entire Indian state machinery –politicians, police,
paramilitary, bureaucrats and more, about which there has been
absolutely no accountability and the issues that led to what came to
be known as the Punjab problem still persist, the state of Punjab
continues to reel under custodial torture, illegal detention,
harassment and long confinement in jails under archaic laws.

Today it sounds clichéd to talk of respect for human rights in Punjab.
It is distressing that since the last many years and decades, no
international report of any human rights body has made any dent in the
willfully negligent and pro-actively tortuous ways of the Punjab

In the year 2010, many illegal arrests have been made, many people
have been tortured in the police custody and many a family has been
subjected to harassment and humiliation. We provide a sample catalogue
for your review and study:

The long detention of S. Daljit Singh:
Sardar Daljit Singh Bittu –a leader of the political party –Shiromani
Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani) was arrested on 27 August 2009, along with
party colleague and press secretary Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur,
without any specific charges, under the draconian Unlawful Activities
Prevention Act, 1967. His plea for bail is pending in the Punjab and
Haryana High Court since the last 6 months. Four months into the
arrest, another case under the same Unlawful Activities Prevention
Act, 1967 registered at Ropar police station, in which Daljit Singh’s
name did not figure even in the FIR was slammed against him.

Daljit Singh is a political dissenter and he is inconvenient to the
present establishment of Punjab. It is in pursuance of this
undemocratic mission that the government continues to gag him and
prolong his detention. Pertinently, Daljit Singh has already served
more than 10 years in detention prior to the present arrest.

As Amnesty International takes cases of people who are arrested for
their beliefs as “prisoners of conscience”, the case of Daljit Singh,
is a fit one. The Dal Khalsa, in cooperation with the family and party
members of Daljit Singh would provide you all the details of the case
so that Daljit Singh can be declared a “prisoner of conscience”. This
alone may bring him and his lawyer colleague respite, for the present
government seems determined to extend his incarceration in view of the
impending SGPC elections and concocted threat perception theories.

Police Brutalities against cross section of society:
In recent times, the police of Punjab with full patronage of the
political leadership have perfected the art of public torture in full
public view by resorting to cane-charge in the name of restoring law
and order. This has been going on in full media glare without any
shame, remorse and with full impunity. Here is a sample:
On 25 July 2010, protesting pharmacists were beaten up at Amritsar.
On 25 July, protesting Unemployed Bachelor of Education teachers were
severely thrashed at Ludhiana in full media glare.
On 31 July, unemployed linemen of Electricity Board were beaten up at Sunam.
On 14 August, protesting ETT teachers were brutally lathi-charged at
Ferozepur Cantt.
On 29 August, female Multi-purpose health workers were beaten up at Jalandhar.
On 2 September 2010, employees of a Sugar Mill, who were protesting
non-payment of salaries for 28 months, during the reported trip of the
Chief Minister there, were brutally beaten up at Zira.
On 5 September, on the occasion of Teacher’s day, unemployed teachers
protesting for their demands were cane-charged at Amritsar.
On November 14, at Nawanshahr ETT teachers were caned.
On 24 November, veterinary doctors who were protesting for
regularization of their jobs against the Minister incharge of Animal
Husbandry were severely and mercilessly beaten up at Bathinda.
On 26 November 2010, unemployed electricity linemen were cane-charged
in Patiala.

Detention beyond punishment:
We also have the following classic examples of two prisoners, who have
completed their jail terms, but who are not being released from jail,
under one pretext or another, namely

Lal Singh @ Manjit Singh son of Bhag Singh resident of village
Akalgarh, convicted for life imprisonment. From 5 Aug 1992 he has
spent 18 years 4 months behind bars, even though the maximum
imprisonment is 14 years. Presently, he is lodged in Nabha jail.
Major Singh son of Gurmej Singh resident of Marauri, Bilsanda, Distt.
Pilibhit U P. His present address is Village Kutiwal PS Lopoke,
Amritsar. He is serving a life term in Nabha jail and since 14 May
1990 he had spent 20 years 7 months behind bars, even though, the
maximum imprisonment is 14 years.

Unlawful Arrests and Detentions:
In the last one year, under one pretext or another, but ostensibly
with the same-old reason of curbing militancy in Punjab, there have
been a string of arrests. Here is a sample list:

Pal Singh son of Ranjit Singh of village Dhandowal near Shahkot Distt.
Jaladhar arrested on 13 July 2010 from his village Dhandowal. He was
released on 18 July and again arrested on 22 July 2010. But on 25
July, State Special Operation Cell stated that they have arrested Pal
Singh. Pal Singh is a citizen of France. He is a member of
socio-political organization named Shiromani Sikh Council. He raised
the issue of ban on turban in France. He has been implicated in many
cases and is presently in judicial custody at Amritsar prison.
Darshan Singh Dhadhi son of Teja Singh resident of Dhaliwal, district
Jalandhar was detained on the morning of 24 July 2010 in the presence
of elected village elders, but later on, shown as arrested with Pal
Singh and Jagtar Singh s/o Gurdeep Singh village Thoba PS Ramdas
district Amritsar.

Gurjant Singh son of Sewak Singh residence of village Jangpura,
Mohali, arrested on 16 July 2010 from his village Jangpura.
Jaswinder Singh son of Baldev Singh of Rajpura, a computer café owner
was also arrested on 16 July 2010 from Rajpura.
Manjinder Singh son of Manjit Singh of village Husainpura was arrested
on 16 July 2010 from his home.
Significantly, on 18 July 2010, the police told the media that Gurjant
Singh, Jaswinder Singh and Manjinder Singh were arrested from Ludhiana
with arms. They are presently lodged at Nabha jail.
Gurmail Singh son of Arjan Singh village Buta Singh wala, PS Banur,
Mohali was arrested at night between 16-17 July 2010 from his home and
on 24th July police stated that he was arrested from village Dupana,
PS Machhiwara and recovered arms.
Sher Singh son of Gurbakhsh Singh resident of village Bhutal Kalan
near Lehragagha, Sangrur called by police to Lehragagha police on 28
June 2010. On 30th June police stated that they have arrested Sher
Singh from Amritsar with arms.

Brutal Torture Documented by Doctors:
Kulwant Singh son of Sadha Singh resident of Varpal district Tarn
Taran was arrested from Gurdwara Bhai Manjh on 21 July 2010, but he
too was shown as arrested with Gurmukh Singh village Pandori Mehma
District Tarn Taran on 25 July 2010 with a cache of arms in Balero
jeep near Jalandhar city. On 30 July, 2010, Kulwant Singh was sent to
Amritsar interrogation centre. He had severe torture marks on his
body; he was suffering from breathlessness and had problems of
urination too. He was sent to Guru Nanak Hospital, Amritsar, where the
doctors confirmed that his kidneys have almost failed due to
electricity shocks that he was administered while in police

More impunity mooted by Punjab government:
As if the impunity enjoyed by the police in Punjab under various laws
was not enough, in the year 2010, two new laws were passed by the
Punjab legislature giving sweeping powers to the police.

Section 14 of the Punjab Special Security Group Bill says, “No suit,
prosecution or other legal proceedings, shall lie against any member
of the police force, on whom powers have been conferred or duties have
been imposed under this Act.”

This clearly reminds of the provisions of the Armed Forces Special
Powers Act, to be applied for the police in Punjab. In the bill,
framed with the avowed purpose of fighting terrorism, what
constitutes, “anti-national force or unlawful activity” has not been
explained, which is a clear indication that it will be used against
ordinary citizens and particularly against political dissenters.

Similarly the Punjab Prevention of damage to Public and Private
Property bill effectively kills the right of the people to peacefully
protest against the government of Punjab on any issue. Section 3 of
the said Act says, “Whosoever wants to organize a peaceful
demonstration shall make an application to the District Magistrate
(DM) for taking permission. The DM may allow or refuse the

When will Amnesty visit Punjab?
We are also concerned that Amnesty International Indian Section was
closed down some months back due to the uncooperative attitude of the
Indian establishment. We would also like Amnesty International to
clear the air and inform us whether it is officially allowed to visit
Punjab? If not, what steps are being taken and what steps can the
people of Punjab take to force the government into positive action?

There is no doubt that over the years, Amnesty International has
raised concern about the human rights situation in Punjab. It is our
view that Amnesty International and other organizations need to do
more as we continue to live in dangerous times. We look forward to the
above cases finding a place in the annual report of Amnesty
International and immediate Prisoner alerts in other cases. We also
request Amnesty to write to the Governor of Punjab regarding the
draconian provisions of the two new bills mentioned above.

Dal Khalsa is a political body of the Sikhs, seeking the right to
self-determination of the Sikh people. Our being political does not in
any way detract from the authenticity of the information mentioned
above. We will be happy to maintain liaison with Amnesty International
to pursue these cases.

Thank you and wish you and the entire Amnesty family a very happy New
Year. May the New Year bring forth more respect for human rights
world-wide and may many countries abolish death penalty as a result of
your sustained campaign.


Kanwarpal Singh
Secretary, Political Affairs
Dal Khalsa

Aseemanand owns up to strike on Mecca Masjid

Printed from

Aseemanand owns up to strike on Mecca Masjid

Vishwa Mohan & Abantika Ghosh, TNN, Jan 8, 2011, 01.37am IST

NEW DELHI: Aseemanand, the hardline Hindutva swami, has confessed to his involvement in the terror attack on Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, while confirming that bomb attacks on the mosques in Malegaon (in 2006 and 2008) as well as the Samjhauta Express were carried out by Hindu radicals and he knew about it. 

What reportedly led to the confession: the swami was cared for in jail by a Muslim, who was wrongly arrested in the Mecca Masjid blast, leading to the act of “atonement”.

Aseemanand aka Jatin Chatterjee, born Naba Kumar Sarkar, has linked Hindu radicals also to the blast in a minority-dominated locality in Gujarat’s Modasa town.

Further, he said RSS leader Indresh Kumar was part of the plan hatched to avenge bomb attacks on temples, but said that militant Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath provided no help to one of the accused.

Indresh, Aseemanand claimed, helped enlist members of the saffron terror plot, including Sunil Joshi and Ramchandra Kalsangra, aka Ramji. In a statement before a magistrate under Section 164 CrPC (admissible in a court of law) the swami also identified the group of radicals who were part of the ‘bomb-for-bomb’ plan.

He said the Hindu radicals allegedly attacked mosques and the train carrying Pakistani citizens as part of the ‘bomb-for-bomb’ plan to retaliate against jihadi terror.

Before making his confession, Aseemanand reportedly told the magistrate that he knew he could be sentenced to death but he still wanted to make the confession because of the arrest of Kaleem, wrongly it now transpires, for the Mecca Masjid blast. Kaleem’s plight motivated Aseemanand to think of “atonement” so that innocents don’t suffer.

The confession reveals that the network behind saffron terror was far stronger and motivated, and its reach wider than suspected so far.

It cannot be used as evidence in other cases of alleged saffron terror since they are being investigated by other agencies. But it can help with other probes.

Also, it raises serious questions about the course of investigation into the 2006 Malegaon blast, considering that the Maharasthra ATS and CBI have already chargesheeted Muslim accused.

According to Aseemanand, the key figures in the Hindutva terror conspiracy are Joshi (who was allegedly killed by his co-conspirators), Sandeep Dange and Kalsangra, both of whom are absconding, and about 10 others who have already been nabbed.

Explaining his motivation, Aseemanand told interrogators that he was angry by the attacks on Hindu temples by “Muslim terrorists”. “This caused great concern and anger in me. I used to share my concern about the growing menace of Islamic terorism with Bharat Ritheshwar of Valsad,” he said.

But it was the attack on Varanasi’s Sankatmochan temple which proved to be the last straw for the swami who had so far been known for his forceful opposition to proselytization by Christian missionaries in Gujarat’s tribal Dangs area.

Interestingly, Aseemanand told the magistrate who recorded his statement that he decided to confess because of Kaleem, who was his co-inmate in Chanchalguda prison. Kaleem, a mobile phone seller, had to spend one-and-a-half years in jail in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast, a crime which has now been established as the handiwork of Hindutva radicals. He landed up in the same jail, this time for a different offence, at a time when Aseemanand was also lodged there.

He took great care of the swami. The gesture moved Aseemanand to such an extent to make him to atone by way of confession so that the “real culprits can be punished and no innocent has to suffer”.

“During my interaction with Kaleem, I learnt that he was previously arrested in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case and he had to spend about one-and-a-half years in prison. During my stay in jail, Kaleem helped me a lot and used to serve me by bringing water, food etc for me. I was very moved by Kaleem’s good conduct and my conscience asked me to do prayaschit (penance) by making confessional statement.”