Abhinav Bharat was ‘hijacked’ by hardliners: probe

Hardliners gradually took control of the organisation

Investigations have revealed that serving and retired army officers associated with Abhinav Bharat "hijacked" the organisation that was initially started by a prominent Pune historian for inculcating patriotism in the youth. The army personnel, it now transpires, motivated the youth to take up "armed" struggle against Islamic terrorism of which the Malegaon blast was a fallout.

The state Anti-Terrorism Squad has arrested five persons, including two Abhinav Bharat members from Pune, for alleged links with the blast. Lt. Col Prasad Purohit, whom the ATS is grilling, is also said to be a member of Abhinav Bharat. Sources said Purohit was brought to Pune on Saturday for investigation.

A senior ATS officer said the historian who started Abhinav Bharat is a genuine activist having no links with the blast. The army officers, along with some hardliners in the outfit, may have motivated young Hindu men to take up arms for combating terrorism, he said.

Investigators believe that the present-day organisation was modelled after freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's revolutionary outfit Abhinav Bharat he flagged off in 1905 to start an armed struggle against the British.

Savarkar, who dissolved his Abhinav Bharat in 1952 saying there was no need for armed struggle in Independent India, had called upon the youth to join the Indian army.

The historian, along with a group of intellectuals, revived Abhinav Bharat in mid-2006 and carried out several programmes aimed at creating awareness on present day social problems such as terrorism.

But later, hardliners in the organisation having an army background, who believed in Savarkar's "armed struggle" concept, took control as they felt the government was not firm in handling Islamic terror. The website of Abhinav Bharat, which was registered in Nashik on May 19, 2007 also criticised the Ministry of Defence.

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