Joining the dots

NAT

A series of arrests has helped investigators establish the links between some of the most high-profile terror cases involving Hindu extremists—from Malegaon 2006 to Modasa 2008. RAHUL TRIPATHI looks at what the investigators have found so far—and what they haven't

One cold December morning, Rambalak Dash left his ashram in Chitrakoot on the UP-MP border for a puja he had been called upon to do at a house in Nagada, 50 km from Ujjain. It was 4.30 am when Dash finally reached the house. Only, the puja was a trap laid out by a team of the Madhya Pradesh police and he had walked straight into it. It didn't take long for the cover to be blown. 'Rambalak Dash' was no holy man. He was Rajender Chaudhary, who is allegedly involved in the Samjhauta train blast of 2007, the Mecca Masjid blast (also of 2007) and the Malegaon blast of 2006. During questioning, Chaudhary revealed the name of his associate Dhan Singh—allegedly involved in the Malegaon and Modasa bombings—who lived in another ashram in Chitrakoot under the assumed identity of 'Laxman Das'. The following day, the police laid out a similar trap for Dhan Singh—the 'holy man' was called for a puja—and he too ended up being arrested. Their questioning led to the arrest of three others—Manohar Kumar Singh, Tej Ram and Sudeep Upadhyay—from different parts of Madhya Pradesh.

For the first time since April 2011, when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the probe into the terror cases involving Hindu extremists, investigators have something concrete to work on, something beyond Swami Aseemanand's confession. After his arrest in November 2010, Aseemanand had, in a statement to the police, said that Hindu extremist groups and RSS leader Indresh Kumar were instrumental in planning and executing the attacks. He had also named Sunil Joshi, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange as "key planners". But he retracted his statement in May 2011 and the investigators had to start all over again.

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