Mumbai: After Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) recommendation to ban Hindutva right wing organisation 'Abhinav Bharat', the Maharashtra govenment has initiated the proceedings to impose a ban on the outfit, which is alleged to have carried out terror attacks on Mecca Masjid, Malegaon, Samjhauta Express and Ajmer shrine.
The move comes just as the storm raised by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's remarks linking BJP and RSS to saffron terror seemed to be settling down following the "regret" expressed by the Union home minister.
The state government had received a report from the Maharashtra ATS recommending ban on the organisation in October last year.
According to a report published in The Times of India, the Maharashtra government has referred the file — seeking to ban Abhinav Bharat — to the Centre for its views. The Centre has forwarded the file to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is looking into many cases of terror allegedly involving Abhinav Bharat, for its comments. The state government will take the call on outlawing Abhinav Bharat — not to be confused with a prominent NGO that bears a similar moniker — under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) after getting inputs from the Centre.
During their initial interrogation, some of the leading lights of the group allegedly admitted to have plotted to kill RSS chief underlines why both sides have been able to stick to their narratives around the Hindutva terror outfit.
Both the Centre and state have power to ban an outfit under UAPA. With Abhinav Bharat operating mainly out of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the former, a Congress-ruled state, has taken the lead in starting the legal proceedings for indulging in terror activities.
The terror origins of Abhinav Bharat, a closed group of Hindu radicals who believed in "bomb-for-a-bomb" ideology to counter jehadi terror attacks, can be traced back to 2006, with the blasts at Malegaon the same year being the first big attack by extremists owing allegiance to the outfit. Swami Aseemanand, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, Sunil Joshi (now dead) and Rajendra Choudhary are some of the Abhinav Bharat leaders already arrested for their role in various blasts, including the 2007 Samjhauta train blasts and Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharief explosions.
Others accused still absconding include Sandeep Dange, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Ashwini Chauhan.
Himani Savarkar, daughter-in-law of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's brother and niece of Nathuram Godse, assassin of Gandhiji, is also said to be associated with Abhinav Bharat.
According to the charge sheet filed by Mumbai ATS in the Malegaon blasts case, members of Abhinav Bharat held meetings through 2007 and 2008 at various places such as Ahmedabad, Ujjain, Faridabad, Kolkata, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Indore, Pune and Nashik.
Col Purohit met the other accused during the various meetings in these cities. At every place, he would assign them a task related to an attack.
The big breakthrough for Abhinav Bharat came with the 2007 blasts aboard the Samjhauta Express. Bombs placed on the Pakistan-bound train had killed 68 passengers, most of them Pakistanis. Though investigators initially suspected jehadi outfits from across the border, the arrest of Swami Aseemanand in 2010 and his subsequent confession blew the lid on the involvement of saffron terror outfits.
The Maharashtra govt will take the call on outlawing Abhinav Bharat under the UAPA after getting inputs from the Centre.