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The radical and dark side of Bajrang Dal
Published on 13 Oct. 2008 11:45 PM IST
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First it was the violent protests in Jammu over the Amarnath Shrine land rights issue, then came the anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka, that killed 35 and left hundreds homeless. According to CNN-IBN, with less than six months left for the General Elections, a radical Hindu fringe is blazing a trail of terror in small-town India. They are arrogantly open about their attacks and motives, acting almost without fear of punishment. Blasts in three towns in Maharashtra had links to Hindu militant groups. The bombs were allegedly made by Bajrang Dal members. Just days ago, Dungarpur in Rajasthan witnessed a scary communal conflict. Shops and vehicles were torched and houses – mostly belonging to Muslims – were attacked. In north Maharashtra, Malegaon and Dhule were recently gripped by a similar communal conflict. Five were killed and over 100 were injured. Today, Malegaon and Dhule are calm. So are Karnataka and Orissa. But it’s an uneasy calm. Radical and proud of it In Maharashtra, Venkatesh Phanse recalls of April 6, 2006 with pride. It was when a bomb blast in Patbhandare Nagar, Nanded killed his son Himanshu, a member of the Bajrang Dal. “As a father, I am definitely proud of him, no doubt about it,” he says. Another man, Naresh Kondwar, was also killed, and three RSS/Bajrang Dal members injured. The police say the men were making a bomb which went off accidentally. “After the blast, next day afternoon when we started clearing the debris we found a bomb and some material which is used in bomb making,” says Suryapratap Gupta of Maharashtra police. Cop out The ATS chargesheet reveals as many as 36 Bajrang Dal workers from Maharashtra reportedly received systematic training from bomb-making experts, which was then put to use. The chargesheet alleges that Bajrang Dal cadres took part in the Mohammadiya Masjid blast in Parbhani in November 2003, the Quadriya Masjid blast in Jalna in August 2004, and in the same month at the Meraj-ul-Uloom Masjid blast in Purna. Based on investigations by various investigating agencies, CNN-IBN team visited Nanded trying to trace the accused. As expected, none of them were willing to speak. But what came as a shock was a telephone conversation with one of the accused Yogesh Despande who warned us to stay away from the case. Meet the converts Yash Raj Mishra and his wife Sobha admit that their son, Rajeev, was a member of Bajrang Dal but they say Rajeev had reduced his involvement when he began working for a well-known Lucknow company. “He was associated with Bajrang Dal and would go their shakhas from childhood,” says Sobha. Agrees Yash Raj, “He was with the Bajrang Dal but since he came back from Lucknow, he lost touch because he did not have the time.” The Mishra family says their boy could not have been doing anything wrong. “Our son was not like that. He did not fight with anyone ever,” says Sobha. But the UP Police allege that these Bajrang Dal members were making bombs to set them off in Muslim-dominated areas in retaliation to the Ahmedabad serial blasts. Despite investigations by Anti-Terror Squads in Maharashtra and UP revealing the Bajrang Dal’s bomb making activities, the group’s leadership remains in denial. “Targeting the outfit just because of few isolated incidents is politics. No member of Bajrang Dal is related to the Kanpur incident,” says National Convenor, Bajrang Dal, Pradeep Sharma. However, despite the denials, bomb-making units do point to the existence of an organised network of Hindu extremist groups.

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