NITASHA NATU of The Times of India (September 11, 2006) reports on Malegaon blasts inter alia in the following:
“Agencies investigating the Malegaon blasts are faced with demands to probe right-wing Hindu fundamentalist groups but the problem is that the intelligence gathering mechanism is focused on Islamic terror outfits. The Maharashtra police has few dossiers on right-wing Hindu militants.
“Senior investigators said the timing of the Malegaon blasts – immediately after Friday prayers and on a day of religious significance when Muslims visit graveyards in large numbers – suggests that forces targeting Muslims could have done it. However, previous investigations into conspiracies and attacks on Muslim congregations at Nanded, Jalna and Parbhani during 2002-03 have not made much headway.
“It was in April this year that a bomb went off at the residence of Naresh Rajkondwar, an office bearer of Bajrang Dal in Nanded. Naresh and his accomplice Himanshu Phanse had died on the spot…. The police had seized timers, switches, detonators and 1.5 kg gunpowder from the spot. Two other accused died in the hospital. The narco analysis report of the three accused in this case has been submitted to the anti-terrorism squad but the police is reluctant to divulge information. Similarly, Sanjay Choudhary, a member of Bajrang Dal, was held in Nanded in connection with the bomb blast outside a Parbhani mosque. But since his arrest, the probe has not progressed.
“The inability to pinpoint the supposedly right-wing masterminds of the blasts in Jalna and Nanded – the Bajrang Dal’s name was bandied about in several circles – had the state minorities commission writing several letters to state police officials over the past few years. On Sunday, general secretary of the state minorities commission, Abraham Mathai, wrote to the Director General of police pointing out the possibility of the explosives used in Malegaon being similar to those used in Jalna and Nanded.
“Nearly every state that is tackling the type being propagated by the Lashkar and Jaish. So the entire machinery is geared towards getting leads and clues on these organizations. If suddenly we are told that a fringe Hindu right-wing group is causing the attacks, we might be looking up a blind alley,” said a senior official.
“There is also a theory that LeT or other Islamic militant outfits could have triggered the blasts with a view to incite communal violence. But this theory has discrepancies since recent investigations have shown a terrorist trail leading to Malegaon. A blast like this would throw open the entire network to scrutiny, attracting several intelligence agencies.
“There were explosive hauls from the town, people were arrested and pockets of sympathy found for terrorists. With a blast, investigating agencies would come in. A huge number of arrests during and after would also mean hours of interrogation and truckloads of information spilled. It is a risk no group would want to take at the moment as it would give us a chance to completely sanitise Malegaon”, said an official. Some locals are even demanding the probe be handed over to an agency like CBI.
“Abdul Hameed Azhari, who runs the Maulana Azad Research Center, said, “It seems anti-Muslim elements were behind the blasts. The Bajrang Dal which is dividing Hindus and Muslims should be probed and those arrested in Nanded and Parbhani blasts should also be questioned again.”