We are not looking at seers or saints in relation to the Malegaon blasts.
We are not looking at people from a particular community when we
question them. We are just detaining people on the basis of evidence.
There are a lot of people going around claiming to be saints.
– RAW Officer & ATS Chief Hemant Karkare
This is a very definitive timeline of events (from 12/11/2008 through 26/11/2008) leading up to and which played a key role in the 26/11 Cama Hospital episode where Chief of the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) Hemant Karkare was killed along with Senior Police Inspector and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of the Mumbai Police (Eastern region) Ashok Kamte.
November 12 2008 (Wednesday)
Self styled spiritual guru Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey alias Swami Amritanand Dev ran an ashram in Jammu; he was arrested by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in Kanpur in connection with the September 29 Malegaon bomb blast. He played the role of an ideologue to those involved in the 2008 Malegaon blasts. Dayanand Pandey’s laptop led to the recovery of evidence in the shape of 37 audio and three video clips. The Maharashtra ATS also produced key Malegaon bomb blast accused Rakesh Dhawde, a Pune-based counterfeit arms dealer before a court in Parbhani in connection with terror crimes committed in nearby towns during 2003-04. Dhawde had connections with other blast accused and Abhinav Bharat functionaries Ajay Rahilkar, Major (Retired) Ramesh Upadhyay and Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit and played a key role in training and handling arms and explosives in Pune’s Simhagad area in 2006 and also in huge funds transfer to Rahilkar, Upadhyay and Sameer Kulkarni before the September 29 blast in Malegaon.
The ATS, in concert with the Marathwada police, was going to produce Dhawde before the courts in Jalna and Purna later in the week. Simultaneously a two-member team from Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad also reached UP to question “high-profile” suspects in Malegaon case with the state police. It is now that new angles emerge in the probe with ATS now looking into possibility of Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, arrested in Malegaon blast case, being involved in the twin blasts in the Samjhauta Express train linking India and Pakistan that had left 68 people dead.
There are agencies that have been looking at the various links, namely the CBI, which has been looking at the Malegaon blasts of 2006. The link we found is that of Rakesh Dhawre. He is a Pune-based counterfeit arms dealer who was involved in the training that took place for the blasts of 2006. He is the common link between the 2006 blasts including the ones in Purna and Parbhani, and the 2008 Malegaon blasts. Investigating agencies are working on it.
We are not looking at seers or saints in relation to the Malegaon blasts. We are not looking at people from a particular community when we question them. We are just detaining people on the basis of evidence. As for Dayanand Pandey, he has proclaimed himself to be a seer. There are a lot of people going around claiming to be saints.
– ATS Chief Hemant Karkare
November 13th 2008 (Thursday)
Meanwhile investigating on the Malegaon blasts case it slowly becomes clear that the low intensity blast in the small town of Malegaon had its roots in a nationwide network as probe extends to 3 states. Listen to ATS Chief Hemant Karkare explaining the situation in his own words.
November 14th 2008 (Friday)
Dayanand Pandey arrested from Kanpur two days ago, complained before the judge of being physically assaulted by officials of the Anti-Terrorism Squad. The court then took him in chambers to examine for injury marks. However, none was found. Prosecution accused Pandey of having attended meetings held in Bhopal, Pune and Faridabad prior to the September 29 Malegaon blast and also claimed he played a key role in making the bomb used in the strike. The meetings were allegedly attended by other arrested persons in the case including Army official Lt Col Prasad Purohit. Another arrested accused Ajay Rahirkar, had allegedly transferred large amounts of money to Pandey which was used for purchase of RDX and detonators used in the blast.
November 15th 2008 (Saturday)
Indian media was littered with news of more arrests in connection with several bomb blasts. The development comes even as Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit, the first serving Indian Army officer to be held in a terror-related case, had reportedly confessed to his role in the Malegaon blast during his narco-analysis test in Bangalore.
Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad claimed on Saturday that Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit, who was arrested in connection with the Malegaon blast, was also involved with the 2007 Samjhauta blast. ATS told Nashik court that the accused had used RDX to carry out the blast in which 68 people were killed. Putting an end to all speculation, the anti-terror branch of Mumbai Police said that Army RDX was used and not sourced from across the border.
When Purohit was stationed at the Deolali army camp in 2006, he had gone to Jammu and Kashmir on official work and is believed to have got 60 kg of RDX and a part of the consignment entrusted to him was given to his link ‘Bhagwan’, who used it in the Samjhauta train blast.
“Purohit handed over the RDX to Bhagwan who is suspected to be in hiding in the garb of a godman. So Bhagwan is a key link and we hope to learn about his whereabouts and antecedents in the three-day remand given,” Misar told The Indian Express.
The ATS is also probing the role of a Nashik-based builder who was paid Rs 2.5 lakh by Ajay Rahirkar at the behest of Purohit. The police have already said that funds amounting to lakhs were routed to Rahirkar through hawala channels. Rahirkar, in turn, transferred part of it to Pandey and Purohit’s accounts.
While a larger quantity of Potassium Chlorate and Sulphur were used to create the bomb, minor quantities of RDX were also found in the bomb, Dr. R K Koshal, ballistic expert from Haryana’s Forensic Science Laboratory confirmed. The use of RDX in ‘traces’ was also seen in explosives used in Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad in May 2007 and also in the Malegaon blast.
The bombers had purchased the suitcases from Indore’s Kothari market. Investigations had found that the ‘Kodak’ brand suitcases used in the explosion on the train were purchased from the Abhinandan Bag Centre in Kothari Market while a tailor who sat opposite the bag centre stitched the suitcase covers. That apart, the pipe-bomb shells, Super Saurabh plastic boxes in which the IED was packed were also bought from the same area. Two of the accused in the Malegaon blasts are from Indore.
ATS alleged that Purohit was a recruit of Swami Amritanand Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey who they claim masterminded the Malegaon blast. Purohit had admitted that he met Sadhvi Pragya Thakur — the other key accused in the blast case — through the Swami.
November 16th 2008 (Sunday)
As the mystery behind the September 29 Malegaon blast unravels, an unholy nexus between a swami, a sadhvi and a sainik had emerged. But the investigations of Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) was not about to stop just there.
The sainik, to be precise the former Indian Army spy, Lt Col Prasad Purohit, had emerged as the mastermind of the Malegaon blast which claimed five lives and injured more than 50 others. The inspiration was from self-styled Shankaracharya Dayanand Pandey alias Sudhakar Diwedi alias Swami Amritananda Dev Teerth, the Srimad Jagat Guru Shankaracharya Sharda Sarvagyapeeth-Kashmir.
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur alias Purnachetanandagiri was the key motivator. Pragya was constantly in touch with ex-Maj Ramesh Updhayaya, who organised the Abhinav Bharat activities and remained in touch with the Purohit. He also looked at the logistics part of the blast. Such was the nexus of these people that their role now into the Samjhauta Express blast and the Nanded blast was also being seen.
Meanwhile, director general of police A N Roy said the arrests in the Malegaon case was backed by solid evidence and dismissed allegations made by some political parties, including the Shiv Sena and BJP, about the probe. “We are strictly going by evidence,” said special inspector general of police Hemant Karkare, who headed the ATS.
More arrests were expected in the coming weeks as the frightening dimensions of a terror plot starts to unravel, with investigators indicating that it had the makings of a larger conspiracy and planning for serial bombings in a number of Indian cities. And there was no stopping the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad who were preparing to make some high-profile arrests in the coming weeks.
November 18th 2008
On 18 September 2008 the Research and Analysis Wing had intercepted a satellite phone conversation which clearly indicated that a hotel at the Gateway of India in Mumbai would be targeted. Crucially, the intercept also revealed that the sea route would be used to launch this operation.
November 19th 2008
On 19 November 2008, the IB received an absolutely specific and definitive intelligence from a US agency through the RAW that a ship with terrorists had set sail to attack Mumbai and that it’s longitudes and latitudes were 30-34. It also received from the RAW the numbers of 35 mobile phones likely to be used by the terrorists (out of which three were later found to have been actually used by them). Thus, the IB was in a position to monitor minute-to-minute movement of the terrorist ship.
November 24th 2008
Again, on 24 September, RAW recorded another conversation. This time, the hotels were mentioned by name and they included the Taj, the Sea Rock Hotel and the Marriott hotel. If these inputs were being analysed, it would have become clearer that hotels in Mumbai would be attacked and that the sea route would be used.
Still it has not been answered why this sensitive information was not passed over to the Mumbai Police, to which it mattered the most and to the Western Naval Command, which had the capacity of destroying the ship.
Threats to Karkare
An anonymous caller, who used a PCO to contact Pune police, threatened to blow up the residence of Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Chief Hemant Karkare “within a couple of days”. The caller who spoke a few lines in Marathi on November 24 evening cut the line after giving the threat, Rajendra Sonavane, Joint Commissioner of Police (JCP), told reporters. The call was later traced to a Public booth in Sahkar Nagar area of the city, he added.
Sources who were close to Karkare have said there was indeed a threat perception at that time and the former ATS chief was disturbed over allegations against his family after the Malegaon probe was made public. Karkare was shaken by L K Advani’s allegations that the anti-terrorist squad, which he headed, had acted “in a politically motivated and unprofessional manner’’ in the Malegaon blasts investigation.
However, they said “Karkare was not scared” and that “he was very practical and took adequate measures to ensure his family was safe”. According to sources, Karkare had raised the wall around his house just a week before his death and also brought home a dog. “The wall was raised around the garage-end of the house, as it faced the road outside,” sources said.
An officer, who did not wish to be identified, said, “Soon after the probe, there were news reports alleging various things about his family which disturbed him. He was not scared for his life nor was he the kind to be afraid of consequences of an honest probe….It was the allegations against his family that disturbed him and he took practical measures to ensure their safety.”
November 26th 2008
The attacks begin on Wednesday, 26 November and lasts until Saturday, 29 November 2008.
November 27th/28th 2008
Karkare was killed during Mumbai shootout by unknown gunmen at Cama Hospital. Sources close to Indian intelligence and investigators claim that Karkare was killed by a 9mm bullet weapons which are used by Indian police.
This entire operation takes place between the CST-Cama Hospital-Rangbhavan Lane area. What this means is that there were 2 parallel and distinct operations that were carried out during the 2008 Mumbai Attacks.
- The attack on Taj, Oberoi, Trident, Leopold and Nariman House along the seashore.
- The attack at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Cama Hospital and Rangbhavan Lane in the heart of the city.
These two attacks were different in all respects as already explored in our report titled 26/11 Mumbai Attacks – A High Profile Meet & An Assassination.
The two targets, the ATS Chief and the three buildings that were selected, are diagonally opposite in nature and texture. The former is definitely not in favor of either the underworld or the foreign intelligence agencies that want to penetrate into India using the cover of rightwing militant organizations.
The latter mentioned targets, Taj and Oberoi hosted ‘distinguished guests’ during the last week of November 2008. Most of them were coordinators of intelligence in South Asia. Few names that resided there being, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and elite members of President Elect Barack Obama’s Global Economic Team in India attending the “American Foreign Policy After Elections Conference” organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Aspen Institute India in Mumbai.
The purpose of this conference in India at Taj was to advocate for the planned Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. Though strongly opposed by the Bush Administration and Pakistan’s ISI Intelligence Service in the past, Obama had planned on making it a ‘centerpiece’ towards his goal of achieving peace in Southeast Asia, and to which Kissinger had stated: “The pipeline will be a natural thing to do and I expect the new administration [to be headed by Obama] to begin discussions with Iran.”
Were these distinguished guests rethinking how to save falling western economies with the aid of India? As often, history makes it a habit to repeat itself; in the last 200 years whenever the West was in trouble, the East India Companies (EIC) or subsequent managing partners of EICs plundered India’s human and natural resources for their survival. In this ‘Great Game’ they kept other geo-political players at bay. Since more than the last decade, under UPA and NDA administrations, Indian foreign policy and domestic economic policy is veering dangerously closer to US-British-Israeli economic interests, viewed by other geo-political players as an encroachment. Did other geo-political players view this meeting as a penetration of their turf?
The 26/11 terror attacks threw up many controversies. Most died on their own; some were forgotten with the passing of time. But even after all these year, the death of anti-terrorism squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare continues to raise questions. Questions over the manner in which this committed officer died on duty along with two of his colleagues have been raised not only by his family members but by politicians, lawyers, ex-IGP as well as different social activists groups. It is to be noted that even the judiciary also found merit in the arguments put forward by a few amongst them along with the judge who sent Ajmal Kasab to the gallows. We will explore all these different arguments and questions in our next article.
Report by Terrorism & Security Studies Department of GreatGameIndia