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Under the saffron flag

Militant Hindutva has its roots in RSS’s earliest articulations of its worldview. It is an organised threat to Muslims and India’s nationhood, and has a long list of acts of terror to its credit. 

 

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BY SUBHASH GATADE

“(They) were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination when daylight had expired. Nero offered his
gardens for the spectacle.”
—Tacitus (Roman historian and official, c.58 to 115 C.E.) The Annals, Book XV, C.E. 62-65

Nanded, a city in Maharashtra with a mixed population of different faiths—witness to the final days of Guru Gobind Singh, Sikhism’s Tenth Guru—made national headlines in 2006 for unexpected reasons.

A bomb blast at the house of Laxman Rajkondwar, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist in Patbandhare Nagar, on the night of April 4 and 5 woke the whole colony. When neighbours followed by police rushed to the place, they found the bodies of two youngsters in a pool of blood. One of them was Naresh, son of Laxman Rajkondwar. The other was Himanshu Panse, a leading activist of a rightwing Hindutva formation (RSS/Bajrang Dal) in the region.

The new element in this blast was visible to everyone. It showed an increasing similarity between Hindutva militancy and terrorism of other hues. While various enquiry commissions have looked into riots in post-Independence India and corroborated the role played by the RSS in instigating riots, the irony is that the organisation is still able to maintain its missionary image. Part of this is because the group has long maintained a strict division of labour within its ranks, delegating much of the dirty work to fringe workers.

The Nanded blasts proved to be an exception to this pattern, as RSS links were obvious. This is why, in the immediate aftermath of the explosions, the Sangh Parivar went to great lengths to suppress the news. Indeed, activist friends of this writer in Maharashtra were themselves unaware of any such incident.

The inadvertent exposure of a Hindutva terror module was followed by media investigations into similar previous incidents. Interrogation of five accomplices of the two dead men revealed that many earlier terror acts in the region where the police could not make headway were the handiwork of this module.

At one go, the police could unearth the perpetrators of the Parbhani blast at Mohammadiya Masjid (November 21, 2003); Purna (district Parbhani) blast at Meraj-ul-Uloom Madarsa and Masjid, Siddharth Nagar (August 27, 2004); and Jalna blast at Quadriya Masjid, Sadar Bazar, (August 27, 2004). (refer to Tehelka, “Nanded Blast: The Hindu Hand”, December 30, 2006.)

The April 6 blast was followed by another on February 10, 2007, in the same city which also led to the death of two men—Pandurang Amilkanthwar and his cousin Dyaneshwar Manikwar—both of the Shiv Sena. A fact-finding team led by Justice (retd.) Kolse Patil and other civil liberty activists brought out an exhaustive report on the incident but it was not followed up.

It is more than eight years since Nanded and a face of militant Hindutva—which can easily compete with violent extremisms claiming allegiance to this or that faith—became apparent. Much water has flowed down the Ganges (and all the water bodies of this part of earth) since then.

Barring a few officials of the investigating agencies—in their private communications—today no one talks about Nanded’s sudden arrival on the terror map of the country. Perhaps the residents of Nanded also would also like to forget those gory incidents, but questions remain and they will reverberate for a long time. One tends to think that since the blasts in Nanded “inaugurated” the yet unfolding Hindutva terror phase, if the police and administration had been more efficient and less prejudiced, they could have nipped the menace in the bud.

Dilly-dallying by the administration, civil society apathy, and to a large extent the communalisation and conspiracy of silence maintained by the media, together led to a situation where impartial investigation to reach the root of the problem could not be taken up.

In her article on “Hindutva Terror” in February 2009, leading anti-communal activist and editor of Communalism Combat Teesta Setalvad says: “Both the Nanded investigations as well as the Malegaon probe have pointed to the indoctrination/inspiration provided by high-profile rabble-causing leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Dr Praveen Togadia and Acharya Giriraj Kishore, in exhorting youngsters towards these acts, both individuals having allegedly visited Nanded on the eve of the blast in 2006. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has been wary of drawing them into the charge sheet as accused or witness however.”

She also discusses in the same article how the “ATS … spared two important private institutes, the Bhonsla Military Schools at Nashik and Nagpur, which were found to have been regularly used for terror training and bomb-making, as well as the Akanksha Resort at Sinhgad, near Pune. These institutes enjoy patronage from the highest echelons of the Sangh Parivar. These locations had earlier been used to train cadre in bomb-making as has been revealed in the Nanded blast charge sheet filed by the ATS in 2006.”

Himanshu Panse and his band of terrorists had attended such camps.

There have been many terror acts since then, attributed to different Hindutva formations, which have seen more deaths and more destruction in their wake. The bomb blast at Bhiku Chowk, Malegaon (September 28, 2008) executed by a terror module belonging to Abhinav Bharat killed six innocents. Thanks to Hemant Karkare, then chief of the ATS, Maharashtra, it revealed a few important facts in the public domain:

First, it made it crystal clear that Hindutva terror, whose danger to secular democratic polity has always been underestimated, has a pan-India presence and has been able to build international linkages as well.

Second, there was nothing spontaneous in acts of terror by the Hindutva supremacists, and top leaders of such formations have been involved—as planners, masterminds, financiers or ideologues in making it happen.

Today, not many people would remember that ATS, Maharashtra, seized a laptop belonging to Dayanand Pandey—one of the accused in the Malegaon bomb blast, a co-accused of Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya—which has recordings of every meeting of the group and throws light on the way the conspiracy advanced. (For extracts of the tapes, see Godse’s Children by the author, Pharos Media, 2013, 2nd Edition.)

“The Leader principle, the stress on militarism, the doctrine of racial-cultural superiority, ultra-nationalism infused with religious idealism, the use of symbols of past greatness, the emphasis on national solidarity, the exclusion of religious or ethnic minorities from the nation concept—all these features of the RSS are highly reminiscent of fascist movements in Europe.”
—Donald Smith, India As a Secular State, Oxford University Press,1963

“Failure to uphold right of conscience in any country empowers militant groups everywhere.”
—Qasim Rashid, 

author of Wrong Kind of Muslim

Any exclusivist project claiming allegiance to a particular faith not only disregards opinions and ideas other than one’s own but is ready to go to any extent to prove it. Violence, the fact of violence, and, in extreme cases, terror then become an integral part of any such process. This part of south Asia which is a mosaic of different religions, nationalities, ethnicities and cultures and where the project of democratisation—underway since the exit of the colonialists—is still unfolding has of late evolved as a fertile ground for the proliferation of such formations.

From the Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarian groups active in Sri Lanka—who have “discovered” Muslims as the new other after the suppression of Tamil militants; to the likes of the Buddhist monk Wirathu, called “Bin Laden of Burma” whose rabid followers have unleashed a regime of intimidation and terror against the Rohingya Muslims; or from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad who have become a synonym for terror cutting across borders; to the likes of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and Jamaitual Mujahideen Bangladesh targeting minorities inside the country—today we’re witness to the emergence of a new “majoritarian” south Asia, where voices of sanity and harmony have been pushed to the margins.

India, the world’s biggest democracy, is no exception. We have a plethora of Hindutva supremacist groups suppressing liberal voices and ghettoising and marginalising minorities through similar violent means.

A cursory glance at India after Independence makes it clear such forces have never felt comfortable with the idea of a secular democracy and have been trying incessantly to discredit it and gain new adherents to the project of a Hindu Rashtra from its ruins. Different commissions of inquiry have underlined their role in aggravating communal situations, targeting minorities, and aiding and abetting riots.

Here is the Madon Commission formed to look into the Bhiwandi riots in the 1970s: “Communal tension does not spring up overnight. It is built up over a period of time, suckled on communal propaganda, nursed on communal incidents and fed on rumours, until men’s hearts are filled with hatred and their thoughts turn to violence.

“The organisation which has both directly and indirectly provoked the disturbances in Bhiwandi, Khoni and Nagaon on May 7, 1970 and thereafter is Rashtriya Utsav Mandal, the majority of the members of which belonged to the Jan Sangh or were pro-Jan Sangh, and the rest, belonged to the Shiv Sena” (Quoted in Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, D. R. Goyal, Radha Krishna, 2000, PP 227, 233 respectively.)

The Justice Vythayathil Commission which looked into riots in Tellicherry was no less harsh on RSS and its affiliated organisations:

“i. I have no doubt that the Jan Sangh has contributed in large measure to the creation of communal tension in Tellicherry which led to the distrubances.

“ii.There can be no doubt that RSS is a blatant communal organisation.

“iii. I have no doubt that the RSS had taken an active part in rousing anti-Muslim feeling among the Hindus of Tellicherry and preparing the background for disturbances.” These extracts are from a report quoted in Secular Democracy, January 1974, pages 24-25.)

Analysing the Jamshedpur riots (April 1979, toll 108), the Jitendra Narain Commission of enquiry said, “The riot was fomented to consolidate the political objectives of the Jan Sangh, forerunner of the BJP.”

The commission concluded: “… the RSS played their role in this matter, motivated by the long-term political objective of gaining strength for their political wing, simultaneously with propagating their doctrine.”(Quoted on page 41, RSS Defined, Citizens in Defence of Democracy, 2000.)

The role of the diaspora in sponsoring sectarian violence in India not only by supporting the exclusivist project at the level of ideas but also providing material support became clear when a thoroughly researched report, “The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate”, was prepared by secular activists in the US in 2002. For the first time, a clear link was established between funds collected by the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF, an umbrella organisation floated by the Hindutva brigade) in the US for welfare work in India, and its channelling into sectarian projects here.

Anyone conversant with the trajectory of Hindutva can vouch that there is nothing surprising in its valorisation of violence against the other. In his monograph We or Our Nationhood Defined (1938), M. S. Golwalkar, then RSS supremo, was so straightforward in his appreciation of the ethnic cleansing of Jews by Hitler and such an unabashed proponent of the submergence of “foreign races” in the Hindu race that later-day RSS leaders have tried to create an impression that the book was not written by Golwalkar but was merely a translation of a book Rashtra Meemansa by Babarao Savarkar.

A quote from the 77-page book would be opportune. It says: “The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least, should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races who have chosen to live in our country.”

He celebrated the way the Germans were purging the country of Jews. In the same book he stated: “To keep up the purity of Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her [sic] purging the country of the Semitic races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

The arrival of Independence accompanied by Partition and bloody riots saw Golwalkar in a new role. While he had consciously kept the RSS and its activists aloof from the independence struggle and asked them to focus on building the organisation, the fluid situation at Partition provided a golden opportunity. The assassination of Gandhi at the hands of Nathuram Godse, as part of a larger conspiracy hatched by the likes of Savarkar and others led to the banning of the RSS and the arrests of many leading RSS members.

Vallabhabhai Patel, then home minister, in a letter to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, his Hindu Mahasabha colleague in the cabinet, wrote:

“Our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies particularly the former (the RSS), an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy (Gandhi’s assassination) became possible … The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the government and the state. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure.” (The RSS and the BJP, A. G. Noorani, Leftword, 2000.)

An article on “RSS in Sindh: 1942-48” (Rita Kothari, July 8-15, 2006, Economic and Political Weekly) gives details of a bomb blast in the Shikarpur Colony of Karachi which witnessed deaths of two RSS activists Prabhu Badlani and Vasudev.

According to her: “… in the Shikarpur colony of Karachi, the house of one Raibahadur Tolaram became the hideout for this cadre. The house was ostensibly taken over for tutoring students, and this turned out to be perfect camouflage for making bombs. The secret operation was going smoothly until on August 14, a powerful bomb accidentally exploded. It blew two swayamsewaks and the house to pieces. The two young men who died were Prabhu Badlani and Vasudev. The local police swooped down on the premises. All but one escaped. He was imprisoned and tortured for several months, until he was exchanged for another prisoner of war in 1949. There are contradictory opinions about the precise identity of this prisoner and his connections with the RSS.”

The memoirs of Rajeshwar Dayal, chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh at Partition, provides details of another kind. It gives damning evidence of Golwalkar’s plans for a pogrom of Muslims. Despite a clear case against Golwalkar, chief minister Gobind Ballabh Pant refused to order his arrest.

According to him, “When communal tension was still at fever pitch, the DIG of Police of the Western Range, B. L. Jaitley, arrived at my house in great secrecy. He was accompanied by two of his officers who brought two large steel trunks securely locked. When the trunks were opened, they revealed incontrovertible evidence of a conspiracy to create a communal holocaust throughout the western districts of the province. The trunks were crammed with blueprints of great accuracy and professionalism of every town and village in that vast area, prominently marking out the Muslim localities and habitations …

“Timely raids on the premises of the RSS brought the conspiracy to light. The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the Supremo of the organisation. Both Jaitley and I pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused, Shri Golwalkar, who was still in the area.” (From Rajeswhwar Dayal, A Life of Our Times, Orient Longman, 1999.)

Pyarelal, Gandhi’s secretary in those tumultous times, writes: “It was common knowledge that the RSS … had been behind the bulk of the killings in the city (Delhi) as also in various other parts of India.”(Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, Volume II, Navajivan Publishing House, 1958.)

Perhaps the experience of an RSS activist can also be an eye-opener.

Krishna Gopal Rastogi, who was on two committees in the Human Resource Department during National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-I (1999-2004), in his autobiography Pracharak Jiwan describes an incident in which he personally led a mob of armed Hindus in Kaliar town, between Roorkee and Haridwar. He states without remorse how he did not spare even a young Muslim girl.

“It was an old locality inhabited by the Muslims. They, armed with daggers, spears, guns were fully prepared to meet any situation. When I learnt of their intentions to attack some Hindu areas, I organised 250 people including some known gangsters and raided Kaliar. Then a strange thing happened. While we had been killing men in one of the houses, we spotted a very beautiful young girl. The assailants led by me were instantly enamoured … I tried my best to get the assailants to focus on the real issues … And suddenly the solution came. The girl was after all causing this trouble and had to be eliminated. I took my gun and shot her. She died. My associates were shocked and returned to work …”

This autobiography was released with a preface by K. S. Sudarshan, then head of the RSS.

Coming back to the Hindutva terror debate, investigating agencies suspect the involvement of Hindutva activists in as many as 16 explosions across the country. It may appear to be the handiwork of disgruntled, rogue elements from various Hindutva organisations who yearn to make India a Hindu rashtra. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is necessary to understand that a chain of events is involved in organising a terror attack. The first part is the planting of the bomb or explosives, involving executioners of the terror act. Behind them are the masterminds who do the planning. Then there are those who take care of finances. All this depends on a “constant communalisation” to create a conducive situation to make this happen.

A simple question comes to mind over the sudden eruption of Hindutva terrorism in the first decade of the 21st century—what caused this not-so-silent emergence? What was the social and historical context that prompted Hindutva organisations to revisit their earlier strategy?

The rethinking needs to be seen in the backdrop of two processes—one international and the other national. If the first was defined by the US’s “War against Terror”, the second was the shadow of the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

It was 9/11 and the War on Terror under the “Coalition of the Willing” became a defining feature of world politics in the 21st century. Perhaps it was the impact of the Huntington thesis on the “War of Civilisations” or the emergence of a unipolar world under the US, but the debate evolved in such a manner that it acquired anti-Islamic overtones.

At the national level, it was a period of political dominance for the BJP-led NDA at the Centre and in quite a few states but it also saw strong condemnation of the BJP, RSS and other affiliated organisations for Gujarat 2002. The higher judiciary and the National Human Rights Commission were scathing in their remarks about the regime for its acts of omission and commission.

The unfolding situation compelled the Parivar to revisit the politics of riots. Slowly, an understanding emerged that promoting communal disturbances would not pay the desired political dividends and there was a need to revisit the approach.

Perhaps a close look at the overall dynamic would show that the “terror turn” was strategy intended to realise the benefits of the worldwide revulsion against terrorism.

The top leaders concluded that the earlier strategy of riots was not enough at the pan-India level and perhaps needed to be substituted or supported by the “terror of the bomb”.
In 2001, a 40-day training camp of RSS-Bajrang Dal activists was organised on the premises of the Bhonsala Military School, Nagpur. A total of 115 activists from all over the country, including 54 from Maharashtra, attended the camp. The trainees were imparted training in handling of weapons, making of bombs and exploding the same. Retired and serving army officers and retired senior IB officers were among the trainers (as disclosed in the investigation of Nanded blast case of 2006 and Malegaon blast case of 2008). (See S. M. Mushrif, Who Killed Karkare, Pharos Media, Delhi, 2009.)

It isn’t just current or ex-activists of RSS and its affiliated organisations who have been found to be involved in this “terror turn” kind. Even a random sampling of news makes it clear that individuals, formations, groups with similar worldviews also experimented with it.

On October 15, 2009 two sadhaks (activists) of Sanatan Sanstha—Malgonda Patil and Yogesh Naik—died while carrying explosives on a scooter in Margao, Goa’s commercial capital, to a Narkasura competition. What prompted Sanatan Sanstha to explode a bomb in a gathering of thousands? Analysts see it as their way of opposing this Goan tradition. They say making such huge effigies of the demon king is nothing but a glorification of evil.

The Sanatan Sanstha was also involved in planting another bomb at Sancaole town, 20 kilometres away, on the same day. It did not explode because of the alert response by the people around. It was not the first time Sanatan terrorists had tried their hands at planting bombs to injure innocents.

Its activists had earlier planted a bomb at the Gadkari Rangayatan auditorium in Thane, Maharashtra, which exploded and injured seven persons (May 2008). Six of its activists who were also members of the Hindu Janajagriti Samiti (HJS) were arrested by the Maharashtra ATS then. The immediate provocation for the bomb was a Marathi play, Aamhi Paachpute, to be performed at the auditorium. The Sanatan Sanstha had denounced the play, saying it “denigrated” Hindu gods and goddesses, and demanded that it be stopped. Sanatan fanatics also planted another bomb at the Vishnudas Bhave Auditorium at Vashi, Navi Mumbai, but it was found and defused before it exploded.

On November 15, 2002, the following news story appears in The Indian Express: “Twenty swords and ten spears were seized and one person was arrested during a raid on a camp in Thane district of Maharashtra, run by a retired colonel allegedly to train youths on a suicide mission to counter terrorism, police said in Mumbai on Friday. One Sanjiv Ganesh Atre was arrested for allegedly violating provisions of Bombay Police Act and Indian Arms Act by providing training to youths in use of weapons at the camp … Atre disclosed that the camp was being run under the guidance of Col Jayant Chitale, founder of Maharashtra Military Foundation (MMF), police said.”

Lt. Col. Jayant Chitale, a retired air defence artillery officer, functions from his bungalow. In an interview to Outlook (“Godse’s War”, November 17, 2008), Chitale said he had “over 1,000 of my boys serving in the three services today. Each one has been brainwashed by me. They are motivated, determined and will do anything for the nation.”

The visitor’s book, which Chitale carefully preserved, listed the names of all the young men who trained under him. An entry on February 20, 1993, tells us Shrikant Prasad Purohit, Law College, Pune, also enrolled at MMF.

While groups and formations involved in such acts may have nuanced differences in their understanding of things, at a grass root level there is a lot of bonhomie and mutual support. These were the same people who declared Hemant Karkare “anti-Hindu” and issued threats when he was alive. It is a different matter that after Karkare’s death in 26/11, he became a martyr for them.

When the Malegaon bombers led by Purohit, Pragya Thakur, Dayanand Pandey, etc. were finally apprehended as a result of the meticulous investigation by Karkare and presented in courts in Nashik and Pune, hundreds of activists of these likeminded organisations gathered to welcome them with rose petals.
In January 2009, a 4,000-page chargesheet was filed by the ATS in the Malegaon bomb blasts case in the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court. As written by this author in Economic and Political Weekly, it exposes the radical intentions of creating a separate Hindu nation, and extensive attempts to network with establishments in Nepal and Israel to create a separate Hindu rashtra.

In his testimony, the person in the Army Education Corps, persuaded by Purohit to become part of Abhinav Bharat, referred to a meeting he had attended:

“Lt. Col. Purohit discussed about establishing some progress on some government in exile. Lt Col Purohit also said that for the government in exile contacts were established with Israel and Thailand … Shankaracharya also spoke about govt. in exile, etc. Lt. Col.Purohit talked about cannibalisation of RSS, VHP and forming a pure Hindu organisation and need for an academy of ideological indoctrination.”

At another meeting, Purohit is reported to have said: “I have contacted Israel and one of our captains has been to Israel. There has been a very positive response from their side. They have said show us something on the ground because we have just shown them everything on paper right now. They said wait and watch for six months.”

At the same meeting, Dayanand Pandey is reported to have said: “I had told you that day that two people from Israel had come to us. They sat here and talked for a while and whatever it is they promised to cooperate first.”

The transcripts also talk of efforts to take the help of Nepal’s ousted King Gyanendra. Purohit had a meeting fixed with Gyanendra for June 24, 2006 and again on February 13, 2007.
According to a report in Nai Dunia (August 1, 2010), plans were afoot also to build a Hindu army in Nepal and India .“Nepal aur bharat mein thi hindu army banane kee yojna.”
“Aseemanand’s description of the plot in which he was involved became increasingly detailed. In our third and fourth interviews, he told me that his terrorist acts were sanctioned by the highest levels of the RSS—all the way up to Mohan Bhagwat, the current RSS chief, who was the organisation’s general secretary at the time. Aseemanand told me that Bhagwat said of the violence, ‘It’s very important that it be done. But you should not link it to the Sangh’.”
—“The Believer”, 

The Caravan, February 2014

Interestingly, despite denials by RSS top brass that none among its cadres was involved in terror activities, Mohan Bhagwat while addressing a meeting of RSS members on January 10, 2011, at Surat said that, “Of the majority of the people whom the government has accused (in various blast cases) a few left voluntarily and a few were told by the Sangh that this extremism will not work with here so you go away.” (“No Place for Radicals in RSS, says Bhagwat”, The Indian Express, January 11, 2011.)

It was not the first time that Bhagwat had made such statements. After its five-day meeting in Jodhpur in May 2010, where RSS deliberated on this matter, he had made a similar statement.

How do future generations remember a genocide? How do they remember targeted killings of people because they belong to the other community? Perhaps they talk about it, exploring hitherto unexplained dimensions, engaging in collective catharsis.

India has witnessed a number of mass killings after Independence. Communal riots have been a regular feature. People are displaced. They are offered monetary compensation and the cycle goes on and on. There is no justice.

Perhaps a beginning can be made by ensuring the perpetrators of terrorism are punished. As an aside let me add that for genuine democracy to flourish, every sort of terrorism should be dealt with firmly under the law of the land.

But the manner in which people who supposedly were lead figures have been allowed to go free, the way in which one finds acquittal of accused in case after case, the manner in which a supposedly secular government in power for ten consecutive years declined to ban proto-fascist organisations found to be involved in criminal terrorist operations or the apathy with which the media—which calls itself the watchdog of democracy—has preferred to soft-pedal the threat it poses to the foundations of the republic is unprecedented.

It is difficult to believe that Purohit—languishing in jail as an accused for more than five years—was not suspended and enjoyed all the perks of his job with all the doles involved until 2012. This information was shared with Rajya Sabha MP Mohammad Adeeb by one of the co-accused in the case—an ex-army man called Ramesh Upadyaya—who collected this information by filing RTI applications:

“It is confirmed that Lt. Col. Prasad Srikant Purohit, IC 55224 is in receipt of full rates of pay and accounts (P&A) till date. It is further stated that official communication regarding the judiciary matters is required to be received in this office from army headquarters for further action relating to P&A. In this present case no such intimation has been received till date,” said N. W. Pendurkar, assistant Central Public Information Officer of the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts, at PCDA, in his RTI information sent to Chief Information Commissioner, Delhi, on June 13, 2012.

Perhaps it is time to remember that everyone is equal before the law, really equal.

(Subhash Gatade is a journalist and human rights activist. Issues of history and politics, human right violations and state repression, communalism and caste form the core of his writings .)

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