Saffron terrorFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Saffron terror is a controversial phrase used to describe acts of Right-wing terrorism in India, allegedly inspired by Hindu nationalism. The phrase "saffron terror" is aneologism which entered public debate in India following the 29 September 2008 western India bombings.
The Home Minister of India, P. Chidambaram urged Indians to beware of "Saffron terror" on August 25, 2010 at a meeting of state police chiefs in New Delhi. This was the first time the word was "officially" used by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government,though it is used also by other ministers of the UPA Government. The term is referred to for right wing religious fundamentalists in India, as per the Union Home Minister of India.
Abu Jundal, a chief operator of the proscribed Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba revealed that his group had plotted to make attacks by Islamist terrorists appear as a handiwork of Hindu radicals, like the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Investigations and allegationsHindu extremist organisations have been accused of involvement in terrorist attacks including 2006 Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid bombing (Hyderabad), Samjhauta Express bombings and the Ajmer Sharif Dargah Blast.
Investigation of Ajmer Dargah blastMain article: Ajmer sharif dargah blast#Investigations
A blast shook the sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer on 11 October 2007 at 6:20 pm, leaving two dead and eleven injured. The blast was initially blamed on the Pakistani terrorist group LeT. However, in 2010, The ATS arrested five individuals for the blast, four of whom were members of the Hindu Nationalist group RSS. Swami Aseemanand, in his confession, also admitted the involvement of former RSS members and the Inter-Services Intelligence in the blast. Aseemanand later retracted his "confession" and his lawyer said the confession was not voluntary and made under extreme pressure.
Investigation of Samjhauta Express bombingMain article: Samjhauta Express bombings#Investigation
Initially the primary suspects of the bombing were considered to be Pakistan-based terror groups like the LeT and the JeM. In November 2008, it was reported that Indian officials also suspected the attacks were linked to Prasad Shrikant Purohit, an Indian army officer and member of Hindu nationalist group Abhinav Bharat. Wikileaks reports name David Headley as behind the Samjhauta attacks. On January 8, 2011, Swami Aseemanand allegedly confessed that Saffron terror outfits were behind the bombing of Samjhauta express, a statement later alleged to be obtained under duress. His confessions included allegations that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was supporting the activities logistically. On March 31, 2011 Aseemanand redacted his confession, citing government pressure. Security analyst B. Raman has termed this investigation as a "partisan political game.". On July 18, 2011 Swami Aseemanand further unveiled that NIA had fabricated evidence against him and his arrest was illegal. He further alleged that he was tortured to give wrong statements. On November 29, 2011 the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued notice to the NIA on a petition filed by Swami Aseemanand. Kamal Chauhan a former RSS member confessed that he planted a bomb on the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express that killed 68 people. This was under the leadership of Joshi a former RSS zila pracharak in Madhya Pradesh, who quit RSS for its diversion from the core idealogies.
Investigation of 2008 Malegaon blastsPolice filed a chargesheet that named Indian Army officer Lt Col Prasad Purohit as the alleged main conspirator who provided the explosives, and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur as the alleged prime accused who arranged for the men who planted the explosives.
A 4,000-page chargesheet, filed by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) before the Special MCOCA court here, stated that Purohit joined the right-wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat in 2007 with an alleged intention to 'propagate a separate Hindu Rashtra with its own Constitution'. According to the document, the Army officer allegedly collected 'huge amounts' to the tune of Rs 21 lakh for himself and Abhinav Bharat to promote his "fundamentalist ideology."
It was in the aftermath of the September 29 bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in Maharashtra that the alleged terms Saffron Terror and Hindutva Terror came to be used widely in various medias.  However, the accused parties confessed to police on narco-analysis that a group of Muslim individuals was used to obtain the RDX used in the blast. However, Purohit allegedly admitted that a splinter group with tenuous ties to him had executed two blasts in India, which prompted investigators to look into the blasts in Ajmer and Hyderabad.
Three men accused of the 2006 Malegaon bombings, including Lt Col Shrikant Purohit of the India army and Pragya Singh Thakur, have been described as representing Saffron terror.  Purohit was also accused of being involved in the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings }</ref>
Investigation of Mecca Masjid bombingMain article: Mecca Masjid bombing#Suspected bombers
While the United Progressive Alliance-led central government has claimed that Abhinav Bharat was behind the Mecca Masjid bombing, the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, the United States and the United Nationshave asserted that the Islamic outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami was behind the attacks. Noting this, security analyst B. Raman has questioned "the two different versions that have emerged from Indian and American investigators." On September 22, 2010 a report submitted by the United States National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to the United States Department of Homeland Security, named HuJi responsible for the blasts. The CBI claimed in their response that the NCTC "do not seem to be updated with developments in the case"
Swami Aseemanand allegedly confessed in January 2011 that he and other Hindu activists were involved in bombings at Muslim religious places(including the mecca masjid). Hyderabad was chosen because the Nizam of Hyderabad wanted to opt for Pakistan at the time of partition. However his lawyer claimed that confession was obtained under pressure.
Other allegationsMembers of Abhinav Bharat have recently been alleged to have been involved in a plot to kill Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh PresidentMohan Bhagwat. allegedly with the help of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. Headlines Today released a recorded video tested by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory which indicated the uncovering of an alleged plot to assassinate the Vice President of India Hamid Ansari. Tehelka also released alleged audio tapes transcripts of main conspirators of Abhinav Bharat which indicated involvement of Military intelligence officers with the Abhinav Bharat group in their January 2011 edition.
According to some released documents by WikiLeaks, Congress(I) party's general secretary Rahul Gandhi remarked to US Ambassador Timothy Roemer, at a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister of India at his residence in July 2009, that R.S.S. was a "bigger threat" to India than the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. RSS spokesman Panchjanya responded that the statement showed that Gandhi "is totally unaware of the history of Hindutva as well as the concept of nationalism."
At The Annual Conference of Director General of Police held in New Delhi on 16 September 2011, a special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) reportedly informed the state police chiefs that the Hindutva activists have either been suspected or are under investigation in 16 incidents of bomb blasts in the country.
Organizations and alleged peopleThe following organizations are alleged to be involved in acts of terrorism attributable to Hindu nationalism:
- Abhinav Bharat - Notable members: Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt. Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Swami Aseemanand
UsageThe first known use of the term "Saffron Terror" is from an 2002 article in Frontline in reference to 2002 Gujarat Riots. However it was in the aftermath of the September 29, 2008 bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in Maharashtra that these terms came to be used widely. In late 2008, Indian police arrested members of a Hindu radical cell allegedly involved in an attack Malegaonwhich killed 7 Muslims. For incidents like these, Saffron terror has been used synonymously with "Anti-Muslim terrorism" or "Anti-Muslim reprisals" and also as Hindu terrorism.
The current Home Minister of India, P. Chidambaram urged Indians to beware of "Saffron terror" on August 25, 2010 at a meeting of state police chiefs in New Delhi. This was the first time the word was "officially" used by the Government of India. Since making the remark, a Hindu Swami in the Patan district has filed a defamation lawsuit against Chidambaram, on the grounds that the saffron color is a conventional Hindu symbol and worn regularly by Hindu religious clergy, and that Chidambaram has hurt the sentiments of Hindus by linking the symbol to terrorism. Chidambaram responded by stating "I cannot claim patent on the phrase." On September 6, 2010 a Gujarat court ordered a probe into the use of the term by Chidambaram. Chidambaram was also criticized by members of his own party (the Indian National Congress) for the use of the term, with Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi claiming "terrorism does not have any colour other than black".
CriticismThe term has been criticized as a "myth" by the Hindu nationalist journalist Balbir Punj who claims that the term is an invention of theIndian National Congress party to demonize their political opposition as "terrorists". Bahukutumbi Raman, a former head of theResearch and Analysis Wing, criticized the term as a tool for political posturing toward the Muslim minority. Similar views have been expressed by other Hindu nationalist journalists in India Kanchan Gupta and Swapan Dasgupta, have accused investigators of leaking statements about saffron terror to the media to promote the agenda of the Indian National Congress,. B. Raman accused the media of measuring Muslim and Hindu suspects by different yardsticks
The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) former president, Rajnath Singh, has denounced claims of Hindu terrorists as "vilification of Hindu saints and army officers in the name of Hindu terrorism". In 2010, the internet whistleblower organization Wikileaks releaseddocuments attesting to some leaders of the Indian National Congress alleging involved of Hindu right-wing groups in the death of ATS chief Hemant Karkare during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The cable concluded that such allegations were being used for electoral gains. The term "Saffron Terror" was prominently used by some Congress party members in this campaign, most prominently byDigvijay Singh. The BJP criticised these statements and filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India citing it as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct for guidance of political parties. The Election Commission issued a show-cause notice toDigvijay Singh on this complaint . Hindu spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has also criticized the usage of the term, saying that it is a myth and insult to Hindu religion, which he said is the most tolerant religion.
The main opposition party BJP accused the government of targeting Hindus.
- Communalism (South Asia)
- Religious violence in India
- Nationalist terrorism
- Terrorism in India
- 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings
- 2007 Mecca Masjid bombing
- 2007 Ajmer Dargah attack
- 2008 Malegoan & Modasa bombing
- Hindu Taliban
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