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Confession of a Hindu nationalist implicates BJP in terrorism

A leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) ideological parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has confessed to Hindu extremist involvement in at least four major terrrorist attacks.

68 people were killed when terrrorists targeted the Samjhauta Friendship Express on 19 February 2007

68 people were killed when terrrorists targeted the Samjhauta "Friendship" Express on 19 February 2007

Swami Aseemanand has confessed to a magistrate that Hindu militants had a part in the 2007 bombings of the Samjhauta Express train to Pakistan, of the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, of a Sufi shrine in Ajmer Sharif, and in 2006 of a Muslim-majority town in Malegaon, Maharashtra.

Since the jailed RSS leader's statement is legally admissible, investigators probing several terrorist attacks that targeted mainly Muslims are now thinking of reopening the cases.

The bombings had first been blamed on Islamists and many of the Muslim youths arrested in connection with the attacks remain in jail. There have been allegations of torture in custody.

The RSS is thought to have between two and six million members

The RSS is thought to have between two and six million members

"Why are they allowed to go scot-free?"

Kamal Farooqui, the chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, was outraged that Muslims were often the first to be blamed after terrorist attacks in India. He said that all those involved in BJP and RSS activities had "to tell the nation what they were doing."

"Why are we allowing them to go scot-free?" he asked. "Why is the law not taking action?"

In his confession, Aseemanand, who is from West Bengal and is a postgraduate in botany, stated that it was not just a rump group such as the ultra-right wing organization Abhinav Bharat that had engineered the blasts but that they also had the support of the RSS.

Mahesh Jethmalani, one of the defense lawyers for some of the accused in the blast cases, said that the confession had to be backed by evidence.

"As far as the law is concerned, the confessional statement of A, even if it implicates B without material corroboration, does not implicate him at all. We are still living under the rule of law. I believe in the presumption of innocence," he said.

He added that he did think "many Muslims had been wrongly arrested and persecuted" in connection to bomb blasts they were not involved in.

Over 30 people died in twin explosions that ripped through the mainly Muslim town of Malegaon in September 2006

Over 30 people died in twin explosions that ripped through the mainly Muslim town of Malegaon in September 2006

"Terrorism has no religion, no caste, no race"

With Aseemanand admitting to the involvement of hard-line Hindu groups in the attacks, officials probing the 2006 Malegaon blasts have started to admit privately that they might have been on the wrong track.

The residents of Malegaon, a Muslim dominated town, 290 km away from state capital Mumbai, who have always maintained that Muslims were falsely implicated, feel vindicated.

Law Minister Veerapa Moily said it was important not think along sectarian lines as "terrorism has no religion, no caste, no race. Terrorism is a particular thing that needs to be curbed from the minds of people."

The ruling Congress party is surely hoping that these allegations of RSS-linked Hindu-extremist terrorism will draw attention away from its own problems of corruption and price rises.

Author: Murali Krishnan
Editor: Anne Thomas

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