The Report of the Fact Finding Committee
the Alleged Attack on the RSS Headquarters at Nagpur on June 01, 2006
People's Union for Civil Liberties, Nagpur
Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), Mumbai
Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Hyderabad
Civil Liberty Monitoring Committee, Hyderabad
Dharm Nirapeksh Nagarik Munch, Nagpur
Indian Association of People's Lawyers, India
India Peace Centre, Nagpur
Bahujan Sangharsh Samiti, Nagpur
July 05, 2006
The nation woke up on June 01, 2006 hearing the shocking news of an attempted attack of the ‘Islamic’ terrorists on the RSS headquarters building at Nagpur. There was a respite however that the Nagpur Police had successfully foiled the attempt by killing the three ‘Fidayeen’ terrorists before they reached the headquarters.
The incident was very significant because it was too blatant in its aim to actually target the place that symbolized Hindu nationalism and hence had huge potential of communal conflagration. It had expectedly evoked anxious reactions from all peace loving people. The leaders of most political parties and every community promptly condemned the heinous act and appealed to the masses to maintain peace. Although certain mischief mongers tried to provoke people communally by putting up provocative banners immediately at many places in Nagpur city (the fact surprisingly not much highlighted despite there being a criminal case and court order to the police to remove the same), it should be said to the credit of people of Nagpur that they maintained exemplary peace.
Next day onwards, a lot of information started flowing, through media, about the incident. The source of this information was the local police. The Commissioner of Police (CP) in his press briefing had given a full account of what exactly happened, which was reported by the press and other media on June 02, 2006. This account created many questions in people’s mind, which began trickling in media thereafter. Contrary to initial impression, there were a few witnesses to the incident, which people variously explored and began giving variant versions of this incident. Instead of quenching the curiosity of people, the flow of information on the incident began thickening the cloud of suspicion around the incident. Some news papers openly expressed doubts over the entire narration. An important leader of BJP, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj also expressed her disbelief that such an incident could take place in the congested old city area where the RSS headquarter is situated. Loksatta (June 03, 2006), a respected Marathi newspaper also raised many questions about the incident.
The incident had strange similarity with some past incidents. Stavan Desai of Indian Express of June 2, traced out certain parallels between the terrorist hardware of this and the attack on Akshardham in Gujarat. To some people it looked similar to attack on parliament in 2003 (e.g., Ambassador car with VIP sticker in Parliament attack as against the Ambassador car with red beacon light in this case). It would appear to be a complete rehash of the case of an encounter that took place in the same month two years ago (June 15, 2004) in Ahmedabad. The case had created a stir because among the slain terrorists was a teenaged college student who studied in Khalsa College, Mumbai. As in this incident, the Ahmedabad police had information about the likely attack on Narendra Modi by terrorists who were entering the city. Quite similar to this incident, the Ahmedabad police had made preparation and deployed a patrol party. The patrol party spots the terrorist vehicle, blocks it on the deserted road in the wee hours of the night, faces first fire from the terrorists, opens fire in defence and kills all the terrorists without any scratch on policemen. Police finds diary on the terrorists, which contains their names in Urdu, telephone numbers, receipts of hotel, etc. Now compare this incident with this one at Nagpur, and you would be stunned to find them replica of each other. Even the post-incident sequence of events runs parallel: There being no witnesses or difficult to have them depose in open; police being the only source of information. The other sources stay anonymous and contribute to the hush-up news in newspapers. A thick disbelief among people prompts civil rights organizations to come forward to investigate the events but they face similar hostility from the police.
The implications of this incident however, were potentially far more ominous than many previous ones. For instance, the Ahmedabad incident related to an alleged attempt of attack on the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, an individual. But this incident was an attempt to attack the headquarters of the RSS. Ahmedabad, being already identified with Hindutva influence, the potential for further damage there was minimal as against Nagpur, which despite being the home of the Hindutva ideologues, has been consistently declining to go communal. The Nagpur Police had warned the public that even Dikshya Bhoomi, a scared place for millions of Dalits all over the country, could be the next target of the terrorists. If so, the potential of damage would be simply enormous.
In view of the thickening suspicion about the incident and its potentially calamitous consequences, the civil rights and other progressive organizations all over the country considered taking up this incident for fact finding. The discussion that ensued resulted in a decision to constitute a team under the leadership of Justice Kolse Patil, former judge of the Bombay High Court. Dr. Suresh Khairnar undertook to be the convener of the team. The following persons eventually constituted the fact finding team:
Justice B G Kolse Patil, Former Judge of the Mumbai High Court (team leader)
Dr. Suresh Khairnar, (Convenor)
Dr. Anand Teltumbde, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai
Adv. P. Suresh Kumar, Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, Hyderabad
Mr. Ahmed Latif Khan, Civil Liberty Monitoring Committee, Hyderabad
Dr. D John Chelladurai, Director, India Peace Centre, Nagpur
Mr Nagesh Choudhury, Bahujan Sangarsh Samiti, Nagpur
Mr. Arvind Ghosh, Peoples’ Union of Civil Liberties, Nagpur
Adv. Anil Kale, Indian Association of People's Lawyers, Nagpur
Adv. Surendra Gadling, Indian Association of People's Lawyers, Nagpur
Mr. Abdul Gaffar shakir, Dharm Nirpeksh Nagrik Munch, Nagpur
Mr. A K Ghosh, Peoples’ Union of Civil Liberties, Nagpur
Mr. Arvind Deshmukh, Bahujan Sangarsh Samiti, Nagpur
Mr. T V Kathane, Nagpur, Bahujan Sangarsh Samiti, Nagpur
Adv. Anand Gajbhiye, Indian Association of People's Lawyers, Nagpur
The team met at Nagpur on June 10, 2006 and began its work. It visited the site of the encounter; spoke to the people residing in the vicinity. A map of the site showing schematics of the roads around the RSS headquarter and the spot at which the so called encounter took place is attached as Annexure 1. The team also visited the RSS Head Quarters and met Mr. Shirish Wate, the HQ In-Charge. The team went to the Government Medical College to meet the Doctors who carried out postmortem of slain youths. Dr. Dhavane, who was present gave elementary information but declined to give further details. The team spoke to Dr. Vibhawari Dani, Dean, Govt. Medical Hospital and College. The Dean also declined to talk over the postmortem report. It was a classified document, she said. The team repeatedly sought appointments with the Commissioner of Police and other police officials. The CP too declined to meet the team. On the contrary the CP asked the committee members (most of whom happened to be well known as civil rights activists, social workers, and writers in the country) their credentials, who funded them, what international connection the team had and other questions. It was certainly unprecedented in the entire history of civil rights movement in this country. The intention of the Police was blatantly apparent: to intimidate the team from their earnest effort to help the society to know the truth. Nonetheless, the team carried on undaunted and gathered enough information to reach certain conclusion and place them before the people of India.
Many people including some press photographers volunteered in providing information on the incident and photographs of the spot in the morning of June 2, 2006.
As the Police refused to talk to the team, the team had to construct the police story on the basis of the informal discussions that the team had with some police officials and the interviews of the CP and other officials as reported in the press. The story approximately would go as follows:
The state Intelligence had information of the likely terrorist attack on the RSS headquarters for a long time (7 to 8 months). On the previous day, i.e., Wednesday, May 31, 2006 the Nagpur Police was informed by Intelligence Bureau, Delhi that a team of four terrorists were reaching Nagpur within next 72 hours with a plan to attack the RSS headquarters. They were later informed that the terrorist team had already entered the city. The general security alert was enforced from the previous day with Nakabandi at various places and searches in hotels and lodges. The RSS headquarters in Mahal as well as the Smriti Mandir in Rshimbag already had permanent police security for the last 17 years. However, with this information the security was tightened there and at the other important places.
The Special squad of the City police was kept on high alert. The following night, i.e., on Thursday, a special squad comprising PSI Arvind Saraf, Jagannath More and Rajendra Tiwari was on the patrolling duty using a Tata Sumo. While patrolling the Central Avenue area, they spotted a white Ambassador car with a red beacon atop at Chitar Oli Chowk moving towards Badkas Chowk in suspicious manner. The squad began tailing it. The Ambassador car turned from Badkas Chowk towards Ayachit Mandir and then turning form Bhosla Ved Shala into the lane going towards the RSS headquarters. It caught the car, stopped some 30 feet past the steel barricade. The three terrorists, who were in the police uniform in the car opened fire on police. One of the terrorists hurled a hand grenade at the police but it did not explode as its pin was not removed. The Police who opened fire in response, gunned down all the terrorists. None of the policemen was injured as they were wearing bulletproof jackets. However, one PSI Arvind Saraf reportedly had a pressure hit of bullet at stomach and was admitted in the hospital. Two vehicles were used in the operation by the police- one blue colored Tata Sumo and a Qualis. The tailing cars were unmarked and all police personal in it were wearing plain clothes.
The sequence of events around the incident proper is still not clear: When the Ambassador car tried to enter the lane; it must have confronted first the policemen at the barricade and then the steel barricade itself. How exactly they went past it without being questioned by the policemen? where were these policemen? What happened to them? Considering the small distances involved (maximum 2 Km), the tailing police vehicles could not be much behind (as they followed it closely after spotting the car) to spare time for the terrorists to remove the steel barricade and make their way past it. While Tata Sumo is presented having faced the brunt of terrorist bullets, the role of the other vehicle (Qualis) is not clear.
There is PSI Arvind Saraf’s version (Sakal, June 2) of the incident that throws light on some of these aspects: “When we spotted a red beacon Ambassador while coming from the Badkas chowk after our night patrol, we had a suspicion and hence we turned our Tata Sumo in the direction of the car. We shouted at the car many times that we were police and asked them to stop. But the car did not slow down. It had a red lamp but we did not find any flag or star insignia in its front. When it turned towards the Lakdi pul, it confirmed our suspicion. We immediately followed the car. The car straightway dashed against the steel barricade on the lane leading to RSS building. Immediately, the firing started. The terrorists could not get time to take back the car as they had dashed against the barricade. Before they could come out of the car, police had started firing. A huge firing also began from the Ambassador car. We responded to it from behind our Tata Sumo. At that time I felt like a bullet piercing my stomach as I felt some stomach pain. I was saved as I had a bullet proof jacket on me.” This is an important version because it comes straight from the person who was actually involved in the incident.
The gun battle lasted for about 20 minutes in which the militants fired 76 rounds while the cops retaliated with 63 rounds. The terrorists had three AK-M automatic weapons, 12 hand grenades and 5.6 Kgs of highly explosive materials with them. They also had three spare magazines for their fire arms each carrying 30 rounds. They had hundred and twenty rounds each. Besides, the Police recovered a diary, bags with clothes and other things, wet soaps and underwears, receipts of shoes and other things, and some cash. All the three terrorists were young in the age group of 20-22 years. In the postmortem, as reported by the Press, the first body had one bullet, the second one had two bullets and the third one had pieces of bullets. Their bodies were preserved for seven days and were cremated with Islamic rites on June 7.
Mr S.P.S. Yadav, Commissioner of Police, Nagpur reported to have said, “looking at their preparation and determination to storm the RSS HQ at any cost despite heavy police deployment indicates that it was a ‘fidayeen’ attack.” While on the basis of the diary, their names and their places of residences in Pakistan were disclosed to the media, the Police declined thereafter to confirm their identity. Unlike most terrorist attacks, no organization has come forward to claim responsibility of the ill fated attempt. There is absolute lack of crucial information to public even a month after the incident, about the identity of the terrorist, the owner of the car, their local accomplices if any, their sponsors anywhere and so on.
Next day, i.e., on June 2, 2006 the newspapers and other media carried the detailed version of the incident. The major source of their information was the Police. Some newspapers however met with a few eye witnesses and used them as sources of additional information.
A correspondent of the local newspaper, Navbharat- Mahanagar of June 1, 2006 reported that there was a possibility of terrorist attack in city. He cited CBI sources saying that the attack would happen in next 24 hours. This was significant because although the incident in question had taken place in the wee hours of June 1, the newspapers could not carry it on the same day.
About there being advanced information available to the Police, there is subsequent confirmation from the Home Minister- Mr. R. R. Patil himself. The Intelligence Bureau, according to him, knew about the plans for attack since seven months. Even Lokmat of June 2, reported that on Wednesday (the previous day) at around 3 pm Intelligence Bureau at Delhi had informed the Nagpur Police that a terrorist team comprising four terrorists were reaching Nagpur to attack the RSS headquarters within the next 72 hours. On the basis of this secret information, the CP Mr. S.P.S. Yadav enforced ‘high alert’ in the city with ‘nakabandi’ at many places and conduction of searches in hotels and lodges. After 7 hours, i.e., at 10 pm, IB, Delhi again informed the Nagpur Police that ‘Lashkar Terrorists’ have already reached Nagpur to attack the RSS headquarters and other important places. It alerted the police machinery further.
The June 2 newspapers generally carried the following details:
The police had intelligence information that the terrorist may strike some important places in the city and accordingly they had tightened up general security arrangements, particularly around the RSS headquarters situated in the Mahal area of Nagpur. During the night patrol, a special police squad spotted a white Ambassador car no. MH 20 B-8979 with a red beacon atop in the central avenue area near Sona Restaurant Chowk. The police patrolling party comprised of two vehicles, a Toyota Qualis and a Tata Sumo. Qualis had PSI Rajendra Tiwari, without uniform and a policeman -Mithilesh Tripathi. Tata Sumo followed it with PS Arvind Saraf, J A More, Havaldar, Prithviraj Chauhan, Kuldip Petkar, Kishor Mahant, Akhilesh Rai, Gajanana Peshane and Vijay Gaikwad as its occupants. As reported in the Press, (Navbharat Mahanagar of June 4, 2006) the squad was created under the personal supervision of Mr. S.P.S. Yadav, Police Commissioner. The officers were laced with AK-47 whereas the policemen had 9 mm pistols.
The police party was on the way to the RSS headquarters and hence it turned towards the Badkas Chowk. They found the Ambassador car also turning towards the Badkas Chowk. Police suspected something foul and began following it. The Ambassador car fumbled and took turns between Lakda Pul and Gajanan Mandir. The police suspicion strengthened after seeing this. The group leader (Rajendra Tiwari) alerted the police team for the battle and everybody wore bulletproof jackets.
The police vehicles hastened the chase of the suspicious Ambassador car. At Badkas chowk the ambassador car took a left turn towards Junta chowk and again turned right towards the Sangh (RSS) building from the Lakdi pul side. Presuming the car might have gone towards Ayachit Mandir the police stopped the chase for a while. However when the police jeep came back to the same place during their routine patrol, they noticed the same car in a small alley between Lakdi pul and Gajanan Mandir towards the eastern gate of the RSS headquarters. The Police vans then closed in on the Ambassador car. However, without paying heed to the police patrol the car tried to force its way through the temporary barricade erected 50 meters before the main entrance of the RSS headquarters. At this juncture the PSI Tiwari intercepted the ambassador car and challenged it by asking where it was heading. Instantly thereafter the two ultras who were seated on the rear seats came out of the car with a grenade in their left hand and AK56 rifle in the right hand. One of them lobbed the grenade at the police, but since its pin was not fully removed, it failed to explode. Seeing this, the ultras opened indiscriminate fire at the police party. In the melee PSI Saraf who just alighted from the police vehicle got hit at his abdomen. However, since he was wearing a bullet proof vest the bullet did not pierce his body.
Soon after this, the police force and the ultras started exchanging fire in which two of the three militants were killed on the spot. The driver of the car then tried to flee towards the Bhauji Daftari School. However he could not escape the bullets from the police and he too was killed on the spot. The entire shoot out went on for just around 15 minutes between 4.00 and 4.15 AM. The police then informed the control room and the Commissioner of Police about the shoot out. The senior police officers immediately reached the spot and shifted the three ultras to the government medical college hospital where they were declared brought dead.
There is a slight variant narrative in Navbharat of June 2 with regard to encounter of the police with the Ambassador car near Daudkhani’s house. According to Navbharat, when the car took turn from Lakda Pul towards Nagpur Night School, the Police squad followed it. The terrorists in the car broke the barricade near Daudkhani’s house and as they crossed over the barricade their car failed. By that time both the police vehicles reached there. Tiwari and Tripathi got down from Qualis and immediately took position, while the Sumo came little further towards the Ambassador car. One terrorist got down from the right side of the car and threw a hand grenade towards the police. The grenade however failed to burst. The other terrorist began firing from his AK-M gun (as per the Police AK-M is an advanced version of AK-47 and almost equivalent to AK-56). One who was in the PSI uniform in the driver’s seat took out a box with plastic explosive and threw it towards the police. He tried firing at the box so as to explode it but failed. The firing lasted for more than 20 minutes. Two terrorists were killed on the spot by the police bullets. When the firing stopped, the police found one of the terrorists still breathing. Kishor Mahant and Mithilesh Tripathi lifted him and took him to the Medical College Hospital. Second vehicle carried the wounded policemen and the third vehicle carried the dead bodies of the two terrorists.
While this is the version given by one paper – Navbharat Mahanagar, the other papers gave still variant versions of the crucial part of the incident. For instance, Lokmat Samachar of June 2 wrote that the terrorists tried to break the barricade but when they could not they tried to reverse the car. By that time one of the police vehicles (must be Sumo) came and blocked its path. Lokmat cites its sources saying that one policeman asked the identity of the driver but instead of giving straight answers, the driver began taking offence. The terrorists then came out and began firing. Obviously Lokmat had used some ‘sources’ other than the police.
Hitavada of June 2 reported that during the chase the terrorists had opened the window and police saw total three persons wearing uniform of PSI. They knocked down the barricade near Daudkhani’s place.
There are as many versions of the critical aspects of the incident as there are papers. Loksatta of June 2 reported in its story “Thus Happened the Drama”: “…The tailing police vehicle while heading towards Zenda chowk found the Ambassador car turning from Bhosla Ved Shala towards the lane going to the RSS headquarters. The police entered from the right side lane and coming from Tatti’s well caught the car near the Corporation’s Bhauji Daftari school…. Just before two minutes, while the terrorists’ car was going forward after breaking the steel barricade, the two policemen on duty at the barricade shouted at the car for stopping it. At that time the car stopped near the entrance of the Bharat Mahila Vidyalaya and three terrorists in police uniform came out. They hurled a hand grenade at the police vehicle that followed them and had stopped at an approximate distance of 25 steps. Fortunately, there was no loss of life as it failed to explode. When the terrorists realized that their game plan had failed, they opened indiscriminate fire from their AK-56 rifles in the direction of the police. The police also responded with their AK-47. Police squad boldly moved towards the red beacon car while firing. They killed one terrorist who came in front of the Daftari school and moved still further. Around this time one member of the squad intimated the control room about this matter. The armed police at the Sangha headquarters came from the side of Krishnashastri Bapat’s house. The terrorists were thus trapped from both the sides. A terrorist standing at the door of the car began firing in their direction but he was killed in the heavy fire of the policemen who came from the front…”
Lokmat Nagpur of June 2 on its page 2 writes inter alia that “… the police in Qualis followed the Ambassador car and signaled to stop it. The police tried to stop it when the terrorist car took turn towards the lane entering from behind the RSS headquarters. In order to stop it a dark blue coloured Tata Sumo was parked across the road near the Bhauji Daftari Higher Primary School. The terrorist car dashed this vehicle and rushed forward. They broke the steel barricade and began firing in the direction of the police. ..”
Tarun Bharat of June 3 gives salient description thus: “… When the red beacon Ambassador car started going ahead of Badkas chowk, the police followed it…After some distance the Ambassador car stopped. One person in the police uniform came out. How could there be a policeman in the red beacon car, Saraf was puzzled. After going towards Lakdi Pul it again turned back and started coming towards Badkas chowk. Saraf had informed the police control room that a red beacon Ambassador car with three policemen in it was roaming in the city in a suspicious manner. After getting this information the PSI in charge of Traffic Mr. Rajendra Tiwari rushed with his colleagues from the road in front of the RSS head quarters. .. As the car entered a lane on the road from Lakdi Pul to Badkas Chowk, the police car also followed it. The car stopped at the steel barricade near the Bharat Mahila Vidyalaya. Immediately Saraf and his colleagues got down from the Tata Sumo with their arms. As Saraf challenged the terrorists and asked them to stop, the terrorists tried to dash against the barricade to run away. At that moment Saraf and his team members opened fire on the Ambassador car. PSI Tiwari and his colleagues reached in Qualis from the other side of the Bharat Mahila Vidyalaya. In response to the police firing, all the three terrorists came out of the car and began firing in the direction of Saraf and his colleagues. … As the firing began, the policemen belonging to the State Reserve Police on duty at the Bharat Mahila Vidyalaya also opened fire on the terrorists. Thus in the firing from all the four side the terrorists were killed on spot.”
Yet another version from Sakal of June 2! It reported inter alia that the terrorist car dashed against the steel barricade but got stuck in it. Two terrorists came out to push the barricade aside but just at that moment the police reached there. The terrorists opened fire. There is no mention of the other police party. It reported that the car driver wanted to run away but police could gun him down.
These are but the illustrations. For the space constraint, we cannot provide version of all the papers. But we sincerely think these versions are good enough to impress upon the basic point that there are significantly varying versions of the crucial aspect of the incident afloat. Not only they differ from each other but also each of them is fraught with serious contradictions. Even after making reasonable concession for journalistic fantasy, the critical question regarding the veracity of the incident cannot be ignored.
About the identity of the alleged terrorists all the local newspapers reported that they were the Pakistan nationals. Tarun Bharat of June 2 reported the PTI news quoting a senior officer from the Crime Branch as its source that the three slain terrorists were Pakistanis and their names were: Afzal Ahmad Bhat, Abdul Kalam Aladi and Usman Habib. While the former two were the residents of Lahore the third person was from Gujaranwala in Pakistan. The diary that the police claimed to have recovered from the car also had their names and telephone numbers in Urdu. Lokmat of June 2 published their names along with their telephone numbers. Curiously it mentions Bilal Ahmad Bhat instead of Abdul Kalam Aladi in tarun Bharat. The Hitvada of June 2 also reported the names of the slain terrorists and that that they were camping in the city for the previous 2-3 days.
There are stories about how they reached Nagpur. They appear to have been constructed from the things police recovered from the car. From a receipt for shoes purchased from a shop –Bharat Chappal Bhandar, Dak Bangla Chowk, Patna dated May 26, it was surmised that they might have entered the country via Nepal. At Patna they were met with a person from Delhi as they found a Delhi newspaper in the car. It is speculated that this person must have supplied them weapons, ammunitions and all other materials. They must have reached Nagpur via UP and MP in the red beacon car on May 29. As the owner of the Patna shop dismissed that the receipt for shoes was from his shop to the Nagpur police team that specially visited him, this version gets invalidated. The police failed to establish identity of the car owner also as the car number actually turned out to be that of a scooty in Aurangabad. Tarun Bharat of June 5 reported that the car had reached Nagpur before 15-20 days and that its colour was changed in Nagpur. Indian Express of June 4 reported that a man who had painted the number plate of the car had turned up before the Nagpur Police and subsequently identified the dead bodies giving description of a person who accompanied the terrorist but was not among the dead. On the basis of his description a computer sketch was done and published in newspapers as “Most Wanted”. Some other papers reported in variant manner about this man (painter) and what he did. Some said that he was arrested and interrogated by the Police and that he changed the colour as well as the number plates. Dainik Bhaskar of June 6 reported that the terrorists had stitched the police uniform in Nagpur itself and had bought all the accessories such as badges, belt, etc. from a shop in Sitaburdi.
Hitavada of June 2 reported that the police recovered 3 AK-M assault rifles; 13 hand grenades, 9 loaded magazines of cartridges, a sealed box containing high explosives, cash of about Rs. 1 lakh and a bag containing incriminating documents. A timer and material for making an improvised explosive device also were seized from the car. Some other papers reported exact quantity of explosives (5.6 Kg) and total rounds (120) seized form the car. The Police also recovered a diary that contained names, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses of Lahore and Gujrangwala and also a map that was later identified as that of Nagpur city. Mr. S.P.S Yadav informed the Press that the grenades were made by Arges, an Australian company and were of the same make as used by the Lashkar-i-Toiba terrorists in the previous attacks, such as attack on Parliament and Akshardham. The Police had also recovered a receipt for the purchase of shoes from a shop in Patna and also a document, which indicated that the vehicle was being used between Jammu and Shrinagar. Janatecha Mahanagar (June 2) lists one number plate, three hand bags containing clothes, chappals, wrist watch, etc. in addition to the above.
Loksatta, (Indian Express Group) Nagpur Marathi edition, dated June 03 2006 carried a comment titled as “Clouds of Suspicion over the Attack on the RSS Headquarters”. It had raised the following salient points:
- Normally the terrorist attacks are well planned and hence they seldom meet with failure. However, the ease with which the police foiled this attack has created suspicion in public mind. Such a reaction has emerged from the Sangh Pariwar itself and also from their opponents.
- Normally, terrorist organizations promptly come forward claiming the responsibility of important attacks, particularly when they are ambitious ones. This one was certainly one of the most important, being potentially the most calamitous. However, no terrorist group has claimed any responsibility of this incident. As such the question arises, whether they were hardcore Islamic terrorists or just the foolhardy novices.
- According to police statement, the threat of attack on the RSS headquarters loomed large over the last one year or so and therefore it had provided an elaborate security cordon around the building. Yet the attackers seemed to have no idea of this; neither did they seem to know the roads leading to the RSS building. Even no map of the building or its surrounding could be found with them. They used the red beacon car for camouflaging their operation but did not know even the basics of how it operates.
- During the entire encounter with the police the terrorists got only one chance to lob a hand grenade and that too did not explode. Moreover the fact that not a single policeman was injured by the bullets of the attackers puts a question mark on the ability of the terrorists.
- The attackers could bring a car load of guns and bullets, hand grenades, powerful explosives like RDX from places thousands of kilometers away without being detected or checked by any police or civic authorities, is a matter of surprise even in the RSS circle.
- The RSS which usually takes even minor matters seriously and go for nationwide protest. This one was publicized as the big planned attack. However, none of their big leaders visited the place even two days after the incident.
- The RSS kept extraordinary silence over this incident and the next morning shakha at the headquarters went on with unusually more people attending it. It was a surprise even among the cadres of the RSS.
- Narendra Modi declaring immediately an award of Rs. 10 lakhs to the police team that foiled the terrorist attack also confused many people. It appeared that Modi was just waiting for the incident to happen.
- All the above facts have created a thick cloud of suspicion among the local people including those belonging to the Sangh Pariwar, who murmured their disbelief in a muffled voice.
Mahanayak, a Marathi news paper from Mumbai, (June 2, 2006) provided the following version of the crucial aspect of this incident:
“.. .the car entered the eastward lane to the Sangh headquarter from the Lakdi Pul in front of Ayachit Mandir. It reached the front of Bharat Mahila Vidyalaya in the lane. It was stopped by the metallic barricade raised by the Police. One police constable on duty there went up to the car and tried to see the important person seated in the car but when he saw three PSIs inside he suspected something foul. When the police constable requested the officials to come out for identification, one terrorist aimed his gun at him. With great presence of mind he signaled this colleagues. At the same time the police vehicles chasing the car also reached there. As the police readied with their weapons, the terrorists opened indiscriminate fire from the car. While responding to them, police disabled the terrorists. They were taken immediately to the hospital for treatment but before any treatment the medical doctors declared them dead.”
It published a title page news from its special correspondent from Nagpur, with the caption “Mahanayak's Special Story (June 5) on the Attack on RSS Head Quarters.” The news goes like this:
“There is a talk among the Nagpur police that, of the 11 police who conducted the encounter, 6 police did not even know how to handle a carbine. Some of them were under demotion on account of departmental disciplinary action, and they were given this 'chance' to prove their 'worthiness.' Sources close to the police circle say, none of the eleven cops had special Commando training. The authorities had punished two of them, for they extorted from a 'gutka' merchant a huge amount (Rs 3.5 lakhs) five months ago, in the Panchpauli police station area. At the orders of the CP they were shifted to another 'punishment' section. Police inner circle is surprised at the composition of the squad for most of them do not know how to handle guns properly.”
Mahanayak (June 6) front paging its special story titled “Operation Sangh Headquarters fake?” reported that there was point in Dr. Pravin Togadia’s claim that the attack on the Sangh headquarter was fake. Among the points it marshaled in support of the suspicion was the equal number of rounds fired from both the sides while there were 11 policemen versus 3 terrorists. If all had fired intensely for over 20 minutes, the ultimate tally of rounds should have been far exceeded that of terrorists. The same paper on June 7 titles its story on the front page “the Show of Attack on the Sangh headquarters had the forthcoming elections in the five states”. It raised some more points against its plausibility such as that the terrorists on such an important mission even did not know the roads to their target. Next day (June 8), it again front-pages its story written by Nagpur correspondent with a title, “Great Benefit to RSS from the Terrorist Attack”. Notwithstanding the lack of analytical rigour of the story, it cannot be denied that the main beneficiary of such acts has been the RSS.
The reporter gives details of many acts of indiscipline of the eleven police personals and wonders how and on what basis they were selected for Special Squad to handle such an important assignment in the RSS headquarter. Navbharat Mahanagar of June 4 seemed to corroborate partially this Mahanayak comment when it wrote that “There were some policemen whom Yadav considered useless (zeros) but now they have become heroes.”
The Mahal area of Nagpur in which the RSS headquarter is situated is a part of the old city and is very congested with small lanes and old houses. The Aditwar Darwaza lane where this incident took place has similarly many houses. Although it took place in the wee hours of the night, the loud sound of firing, hardly a few feet away, woke up many of their inmates who variously watched the incident. We tried to meet some of them, and did meet some.
At the spot, we met a youngster, who said he was a local resident and witnessed the incident. He was quite cooperative and did not hesitate telling us what he saw. This was his version of the incident: At around 4 am he was woken up by the big thud. He was sleeping on the first floor and when he woke up he could clearly see through the window that some people in police uniform pushing aside the barricade that had fallen flat. He surmised that the thud sound was of the fall of the barricade. After making way, one white Ambassador, with a red beacon crossed it and stopped. One fellow in the police uniform got down from the car and ran behind. He could not see him thereafter but then a volley of bullets followed in the direction of the car. There was a pause and again the firing had started. He said that there was no firing from the car. He confirmed that the car was clearly seen from his window and he saw nothing happening there. Initially, he thought that it was a police drill that they saw just a fortnight ago at the same stop. We repeatedly asked him to confirm that there was no firing from the car and he variously confirmed it. His explanation was that the police firing was so dense that the two people seating in the rear might have died before they could do anything. On asking who else had witnessed it, he answered that his parents also had seen it. His mother had opened the door but a policeman promptly signaled her to shut it. The firing, according to him lasted for some 15 minutes. He said that two terrorists who were seating on the back seat had fallen out dead from the rear doors. His explanation was that the hinges of the car might have been broken because of the firing and they opened up and the dead men fell out. He showed us actual spot where the bodies were found and the position of the car. There were blood spot marking these positions that could be clearly seen. The position of the bodies indeed was very close to the rear doors of the car.
We met with the youngman’s parents inside their house. The family was extremely hospitable. He told us that he was sleeping on ground floor and was woken up by some big thud. He went up to see what happened. What he described approximately matched with his son’s version. Even his mother mother reinforced her husband while he was speaking to us. As the young man told us she confirmed that she had opened the door to see what was happening but was signaled by a policeman to go inside. She said that she and her husband saw the firing. They were not sure whether there was firing from the car. If at all, they said, it might have been very little. The firing on the car was so intense that the terrorists might have been killed in the first shower of bullets. On asking whether they saw a man coming out from the car and running with a grenade in hand. Senior Daudkhanis replied that they had not seen him. They thought that it might have happened before they reached upstairs. They also told us that initially they too had thought that it was a police drill, quite like they had seen a fortnight ago at the same spot.
In the next house, which lay little ahead of the spot where the car stood, we met with another gentleman, inside his house. He narrated his version but interspersed it by saying that parts of it he had heard from others. He was also woken up due to the thud as testified by the earlier family. However, taking into account the position of house he could not have clearly seen the things. This gentleman however appeared to confirm that he had not seen any terrorists near the car and if at all they might have fired from inside. After the firing had stopped he also had seen two bodies lying on the road close to the rear doors of the car at the spot the youngman had shown us earlier. If according to some versions, another police party had approached the spot from the other side; they would be just in front of the house of this gentleman. Therefore we wanted to make sure about whether there was firing on the car from its front side. The gentleman and a small boy (who may have been his grandson) who supplemented him confirmed that the firing happened only from behind the car.
We could not meet other people.
We spotted a Maruti Omni van parked in the courtyard near the spot where the terrorist’s ambassador car was halted (Annexure 3). We enquired with the local youngman whether the van was parked there at the time of the incident. He confirmed that it was parked at the very spot. We inspected it and saw no bullet mark or any scratch on it. The youngman also confirmed that it ‘miraculously’ escaped from being damaged.
We were shown the bullet marks on the walls, which were circled by police. Although, it was difficult to infer the direction of the hit but certain marks were clear enough to have right angle hit which was inexplicable taking into account the relative positions of the terrorists and police at the narrow lane. A photograph of some bullet marks on the compound wall of the Bharat Mahila Vidyalaya is attached as Annexure 4. We tried to search the bullet marks in the direction of where police might have positioned themselves. If there had been a volley of fire through two AK-Ms from or near the car, it is expected that stray shots hitting Mr Daudkhani’s house, which is right at the side of blood stain, or the Maruti omni parked next to his house and even farther objects. But barring a couple of marks above the door, we could not find any.
While investigating at the spot, an officer in Intelligence Bureau along with two of his constables reached us and began talking to us. What he said to us in tit bits had this information: He said that the driver of the car had run towards the police with hand grenade but was gunned down there. On asking why the bodies had to be hurriedly removed from the spot, he said that they were alive and needed to be carried to the hospital. Some members showed him the bullet marks on the wall with right angle hit on the school wall and the wall juxtapose, and asked him where they could be fired from. The police officer explained that the bullets fired onto the car could hit the road and change direction to have such marks. On probing his explanation further, he could not answer our questions. The police officer confirmed in response to our question that there were two policemen posted at the barricade. Probing further about their role, he explained that they might not have been at the spot at that time. Having posted to guard the vicinity, they might have been elsewhere around.
We went to the open space in front of the RSS HQ building and spoke to a shopkeeper there. He said that he did not live there and could not throw any light on the matter. They advised us to talk to the people who lived close by. They confirmed that there was a heavy police security around the RSS headquarters over the past many years and ordinarily nobody could approach the building. Recently there have been three layers of police security guarding the building. One of the plainclothes policemen, who identified himself as the IB person, came running to us and asked us our identities and whether we had taken permission to inquire. He appeared quite disturbed. When we explained to him our purpose and intention of meeting the high officials of police, he went away. However, as we were leaving the place he came running again and scribbled down some of the names of the committee members.
We then went to Medical College Hospital to interview the Doctors who performed postmortem on the bodies. Unfortunately, we could not meet them as it was holiday. We accidentally saw a Doctor. in the corridor and chatted with him for 10 to 15 minutes and got to know the names of the Doctors who performed postmortem, ages of the terrorists, their colour, etc. He however, declined to talk anything significant without his senior’s permission. The doctors performed the postmortem were: Dr B G Dhawane, Dr. P. G. Dixit, Dr. M. S. Vyavahare, Dr. Manish Shirigiriwar. The dead people were in their twenties and were fair in colour and could belong to North. They were not typical Kashmiris.
We then came to Kotwali to see Mr. Ajinkya Bobade, the Dy. Commissioner of Police, who was investigating the case. We had twice contacted him on phone to seek his appointment but he said he was entangled in a court case and would meet us after he was free. Expecting that he could come any time (since by then it was evening), we waited at Kotwali Police station and spoke to the PSI in charge. He gave us information on the case details from the register. We wanted to inspect the Ambassador car as well as the police vehicle. The car was completely covered with blue plastic sheet and police declined to open it up for us without their senior’s permission. We could however see a Tata Sumo, which was parked there without any cover. Sumo’s glasses were smashed. There were two bullet marks near the hinges of the left door at approximately 6 inches apart and a mark at the inside of the right hand door at the level of hip of the driver. There were few bullet marks at the front near the head light. The Police officer whom we met at the spot, had by then returned to Kotwali tried to explain the shots but on our probing questions he got seemingly confused. Apparently, the mark near the driver’s seat could not be explained because if the terrorists had opened fire, the occupants could not have got down from the vehicle, particularly nine of them had occupied it. The bullet should have pierced the bodies of more than one front-seaters before hitting the driver. Moreover the bullet marks right at the front and then on the left side of Sumo makes it quizzical to imagine its position vis-ŕ-vis the terrorists’ car. Our discussion with the police officer at least could not solve this riddle.
Next day we located the painter who was reported to have had painted the number plate of the car and subsequently identified one of the dead bodies and gave description of his companion who had come to his shop. The painter Ramlal has a small shop where mostly spray painting jobs are undertaken. There was evidence by way of a display board that it undertook painting of vehicle number plates on production of the original registration papers. We tried to talk to Ramlal with the mediation of a shop owner in the same lane but he flatly refused saying that he does not know anything. He was visibly disturbed. We talked to a couple of people in his neighborhood and they told us that he would not talk because he was under pressure of the local police. Ramlal is an important link in the episode inasmuch as it establishes that one of the slain persons had come to get the number plate painted and there was someone else with him. But Ramlal would not speak to us! It will stay as mystery how the police discovered him. One of the versions has it that he himself went to police but seeing him it appears unbelievable. We talked to people on the lane and they also opined similarly. They could not explain how he got entangled in this matter.
We tried to seek appointment with the Police, particularly with Mr. Ajinkya Bobade, the investigating officer, Mr. S.P.S. Yadav, Commissioner of Police, and anyone of the team members who could talk to us to give their versions. While Mr. Bobade talked to us amicably but said he was busy. We could not get across the bureaucratic barrier even to meet other police officials. Without Bobade’s permission other people would not even talk. We therefore decided to approach Mr. Yadav at his residence. Sentry at the gate told us that he was inside and customarily enquired about our identities and purpose of the meeting. After talking to some one in the residence, he said that Yadav was not home and we should approach the next day (Monday) in his office. We wanted to talk on telephone but he did not allow us to. We had kept several telephonic messages to seek his interview but in vain.
While we were still trying to seek interviews with the Police Officials, collect other facts and had not even discussed our finding, at least two papers, viz., Sunday Hitavada and Navabharat Mahanagar had published news items insinuating motives to the fact Finding Team and even indicating links between it and the Islamic terrorist organizations. Both the reports cited the intelligence sources and were identical in their contents. It was clear that the Police had taken offence of the civil rights organizations intervening into the issue and decided to act aggressively leaving all decencies to the wind. The Police attitude got eventually exposed when Mr. S.P.S. Yadav, Commissioner of Police rushed a letter by hand to the convener of the team- Dr. Suresh Khairnar questioning the credentials of the team members and forestalling the possibility of meeting in the ‘national and public interests.’ This letter was in response to a formal request by the Committee for granting an interview after having failed to meet him several times before. The letter of the Committee dated June 12, 2006 is attached here as Annexure 5 and the immediate response to it from CP, Nagpur is attached as Annexure 6. The CP’s hostile response stunned the members because never before had they experienced such a blatantly intimidating response from a senior police officer. The Committee discussed the matter and decided to politely dispel his misunderstanding and reiterate its request for an interview. The said letter is attached as Annexure 7.
The Fact-finding Team held a Press Conference giving out its preliminary finding on June 15, 2006. The report was carried by some papers including the Times of India in Mumbai. The next day, the Police Commissioner again issued a public statement not only rubbishing the findings of the Team but also questioning the credentials of the team members and insinuating that the team was acting for ‘some one’. It was unprecedented in the history of the civil rights movement in the country that a responsible police officer had openly and venomously come out with his anti-civil rights attitude. His statement was carried by Times of India and Indian Express in their Mumbai edition of June 17, among others. Some papers known for their communal leanings were emboldened to carry this canard further by publishing their views in the form of views and going so far as writing editorials. Tarun Bharat, Nagpur was particularly notable for its canard against the Committee.
Justice Kolse Patil who had headed the Team had written a letter to Shri R. R. Patil, refereeing to the Police Commissioner’s statement in the newspapers and stressed the demand for judicial inquiry into the entire episode. The Team also issued a press statement in response to the Police Commissioner’s statement. We place these statements as Annexure 8 and 9 respectively.
The local Tarun Bharat had almost carried a spirited tirade against the Fact Finding Team. It published an interesting news item titled “The objective of the Fact Finding Committee is to spread hatred for the Police” on June 16, reportedly written by one Prof Ashok Kamble, Convener of ‘Dalit Adim Jamat Sangharsh Sena’s state committee (obviously it must have been a multi state body). Prof Ashok Kamble claimed that “whenever police fight the terrorists the entire Dalit, Adivasi, Hindu, Muslim communities are unitedly behind the police and they would continue to be so in future”, and that if the police published the information on some of its members, the truth will come out that they are the supporters of the Maoist organization. The Fact Finding Committee with its limited resources attempted to know where such an unheard of organization or such a Prof Ashok Kamble existed but in vain. Interestingly, it mirrored the opinion of the Police.
Our immediate questions were:
- According to the newspaper reports (Navbharat Mahanagar of June 5, 2006), Mr. R. R. Patil stated that the government had information about the attack before three months (elsewhere it was reported as 7 months—see the report) Mr. Nitin Gadkari, a prominent BJP leader from Nagpur was asked to cooperate with police security. Another BJP leader Mr. Eknath Khadse, had stated three weeks ago that there was necessity to increase protection to Sangh headquarters. The Director General Police had paid 2-3 visits in this connection.
- The security to the RSS headquarters is not a new thing. It is of permanent nature continuing since last 17 years. Before this incident, the police protection around the RSS headquarters was instituted with three layered police cordon. As reported in Lokmat of June 3, it comprised 2 PSIs, 8 Dy. PSIs, 84 policemen (18 plainclothesmen and the balance in uniform), 2 platoons of the state reserve police each comprising 30 jawans. The security to the Sarsanghchalak Mr. Sudarshan included 1 PSI, 3 Dy. PSIs, 41 policemen. After the incident the security squad is strengthened with 5 more policemen. Although the headquarter is located in a very congested old city part with only small lanes to approach it, which makes it difficult for any large scale terrorist attack, there were metallic barricades erected everywhere blocking the vehicular traffic towards it from all the sides with police posse guarding them. At the headquarter building there were armed sentries at the gate with sand bags shield. Inside there were another posse of armed guards. The geographical incongeniality and such a heavy security will deter any terrorist (leave apart the specially trained ones) to venture their devilish act. Given the importance of the RSS HQ; any attack on it could only benefit the majority communalism without any possible gain to the terrorists.
- When the police had definite prior information about possible attack on RSS Head Quarters and the police were so thoroughly prepared (anticipating the encounter, the police were ready with bullet proof jackets) as stated by the Commissioner of Police (CP), why did they (Police) allow the attackers to go close to the RSS HQ? When the Police saw the attackers first in the Central avenue, a place over a kilometer before the RSS HQ, why did the Police not stop them there itself? Killing the terrorist at Central avenue makes a world of difference from killing them in the vicinity of RSS HQ, in the communal context.
- Attack on the RSS Head Quarters, which is a proud symbol of a strong ideology, is a highly offending and insulting one for millions of RSS cadres. There is a possibility that some of them vent their emotion violently. We saw it happen in ‘post Godhra’. When such a dangerous possibility can’t be ruled out, what prompted the Commissioner of Police to disclose the identity of the terrorists (‘Islamic terrorists’ ‘Pak trained fidayeen’) so urgently, within an hour of the encounter? Why did the CP ignore the most vital precaution that is required at the interest of nation’s social security? That nothing untoward happened, that the entire RSS parivar endured all these with phenomenal quietude, was worth all our salute. That, however, cannot be a justification for the CP’s callous attitude towards the social security.
- The idea of terrorists using a 20 year old Ambassador car with red beacon for the operation in the wee hours prima facie appears weird, implausible and foolish. The VIP car roaming on odd roads at the wee hours of night would attract attention of anyone leave alone the police. They are vulnerable because the police either know them or can easily ascertain their identity. It is highly unbelievable that reportedly an organized terrorist team chose to commit such an incredible blunder.
- This incident fits well in the pattern formed by a few previous incidents like an incident of alleged attempt on Modi in Ahmedabad (referred to above) wherein three terrorists including a college student –Ishrat Jahan from a poor Muslim family in Mumbra were killed. The incident occurred in the wee hours when there was hardly any possibility of any eye witness other than the police. In the encounter the terrorists open fired first but get killed without causing even a scratch to the police. The police possess intelligence information but still end up in fight to finish with the terrorists. They always recover diary on their person with all information of their plan, telephone numbers, some bills, etc. It defies imagination of normal mortals to see the terrorists on suicide mission easily passing their identities and plans to the police. The Fact Finding report into the incident at Ahmedabad by Civil Rights organizations had totally rubbished the police story.
- Terrorist suicide attacks of the past are witnessed to the fact that they normally aim at inflicting maximum damage to the opponent in exchange to their own lives. The Sangh headquarter surprisingly did not have even its usual occupants: all the important leaders being busy at Dr. Hedgewar Smruti Bhavan in Reshambag where over 1200 RSS cadres gathered from all over the country for over a month long National Camp. That the terrorists are said to have chosen to carry out this act without such basic information as this, sounds amateurish.
- Some newspapers reported their own opinions saying that the terrorist might not even have basic information on roads to reach their target. Police version stressed that the terrorists’ car took two rounds and it seemed to fumble at two turns, which thickened their suspicion. These were the three whom the media and the police call ‘trained fidayeen’.
- Among the things recovered from the car, were the wet underwears and a soaked soap to emphasize the occupants’ Muslim identity. It is believed that the Muslims would take bath before reaching Allah. Assuming that to be true with the terrorists, it is implausible that they would carry their wet underwears and even soap with them. In fact both acts are a contradiction: if they expect to reach martyrdom then all worldly things must be useless to them and if they do not there is no need of taking bath itself. It appears to be concoction of a low level intelligence.
- When the police had prior information about possible attack on the RSS headquarter and the police were prepared, as stated by the Commissioner of Police to handle it, why did the police party allow the attackers to go close to the RSS HQ? Even after suspecting foul (indeed there was enough evidence of that at the first sight of the red beacon car roaming in the wee hours), why did the police not intercept it at any of the turns after it took turn towards Badkas Chowk? The Police vehicles after all were far superior to the 20 year old Ambassador!
- Day one media report says, Deputy Commissioner Mr Prabhat Kumar was in the patrolling team and he smelled foul and started tailing it in their unmarked blue Tata Sumo. Why did the CP not bring him (Mr P Kumar) in his (CP) narration of the encounter? Why did CP hide the DCP?
- We heard from the eyewitnesses that the police had a rehearsal of the encounter a fortnight ago on the same spot and hence they continued to think it was another until after the end when they saw actual dead bodies being taken away by the police. Even police corroborated the version of people that they had a drill at the spot earlier. The strange coincidence of the drill and actual happening at the same spot distanced in time just by a fortnight is indeed strange!
- Despite there being few sources of information, there are many versions of this small incident as discussed above. They mutually conflict and make the entire story hazy.
- There is a version of how the car approached the ill fated spot. One version says that the car knocked down the barricade and crossed it but stopped at the spot. Another version says that the car stopped at the barricade, its inmates were challenged by police and the firing ensued. According to this version the firing began before crossing the barricade but actually it did happen on the other side. How the car went past the barricade is the mystery. The version of knocking down the barricade and car passing over it is not plausible because the fallen barricade would make a wedge of more than 5 inches height at the end of which the base support would turn into spike of same height. This may be realized from the photographs – Annexures 10 and 11 that show the clear picture of the barricade. It is not possible for a car to negotiate this hurdle from a small distance. How did then the car go past the barricade?
- Unfortunately the mystery does not end there. If the car was past the barricade, why did it stop at the spot? Some version would explain it by saying it simply failed. Another version would say that the Police party reached there and the terrorists had to stop and begin firing. Indeed these are debatable versions. Pray, what is the truth?
- How exactly did the firing begin, is the crucial question, which remains unanswered. There is a version that policeman at the barricade (The police official who spoke with us at the spot said that there was no police at the barricade at that moment. They could be moving around.) or a policeman from the Qualis interrogated the inmates of the car about their identity and firing began. In either case, the policeman involved would scarcely escape the volley of bullets from the AK-M assault rifle of the terrorist which normally sprays nearly 10 rounds per second. Once caught in the narrow lane in such a precipitous situation, terrorists would not wait for another act to follow. Any version around this moment sounds artificial.
- In context of this confusion, we find the testimony of the eye witnesses to whom we spoke far more plausible than anything that is in vogue. This testimony must be respected because it is direct witness to the incident. According to this testimony, the barricades fell with a thud (which woke them up); some people shifted them aside and drove the car past it and stopped. The driver got down and ran behind to disappear from the witness’ sight. Immediately, volley of bullets followed from behind and lasted for about 15 minutes with some pause in between. There was no firing from the car. This testimony at least removes the doubt as to how the car went past the barricade.
- While these statements of eyewitnesses explain the sequence far better than any version of the press or police, it throws up some more questions. Why did the car stop at that spot? Answer may be because of the dense firing from behind. Why was there no firing from the car? Either the men were killed or immobilized in the first burst of fire from the police. What happened to the driver? He might have been dropped dead. The logical sequence of these questions might lead to far reaching possibilities but dwelling into them would be utterly speculative in absence of some lead information.
- Two terrorists were shot dead close to their Ambassador car and the third one was killed 50 feet away. It was reported that, this third terrorist, probably the one driving the vehicle, tried to flee for life. If he was fleeing he would have run away from the police not towards them. But the place of his bloodstain suggests that he first ran towards the police, crossed their vehicle and went behind for over 20 feet before getting killed. That he was running into the hands of police while intending to flee is illogical. If he was not fleeing, then how did he reach that place passing through the police vehicle in that narrow lane?
- The testimony of the eyewitnesses conflicts with the official version on nearly all counts. The question however arises what is the motivation of people to create variant version and sell it to the public? That question could only be tackled by the resourceful agencies like State in the interest of our people.
- On the site of the encounter was parked a white Maruti Omni car at the premises of Mr Jopat, the compound wall being fenced by barbed wire. As the house is the first one in the lane (in front of which raised the barricade) and the attackers are in side the lane, if the police wanted to target the attackers, they should have gone some where behind this Maruti Omni car. When there was over 140 rounds of fire, there is not a single bullet mark on the vehicle. This creates strong doubts over the nature of reported encounter.
- Many points in the official version evoke logical questions. For instance when it says that the patrolling police that chased the ambassador at one point presumed the car might have gone towards Ayachit Mandir. The police stopped the chase for a while. However when the police jeep came back to the same place during their routine patrol, they noticed the same car in a small alley between Lakdi pul and Gajanan Mandir towards the eastern gate of the RSS Head Quarters. As the point where the police missed the Ambassador car and the place where they saw them again are the same small alley, do the police mean to say that the attackers were waiting over there until then?
- Most versions fraught with contradictions as they appear to unnecessarily dramatize the whole incident that took place in a small area of less than 4 sq km. In the process they throw up many questions, which would be very difficult to answer.
- It was reported that the police recovered from the terrorists’ vehicle a sealed case containing 12 hand grenades. The terrorists coming on a deadly mission carrying their munitions in sealed cases defies logic. If true, the logic will only lead to indicate that they were on the way to supply these cases to some one. Who could this ‘some one’ be?
- About the car itself: The police version says that the car was being used between Jammu and Srinagar (some say Katara based on some document they found in the car). Will some one drive a 20 years old car over 3000 km to reach Nagpur? According to Police they have not traveled straight to Nagpur and had been to Patna to buy their shoes. It will only add to the distance traveled by the car and make the theory more implausible.
- If the terrorists were so smart as to procure and use the PSI uniform in a red beacon car, they obviously would have known how such cars are used. Such a car could not have all PSIs as its normal occupants. By having all the PSIs as occupants of the car, they would render themselves more susceptible to the police probing. Would any organized terrorist commit such a blunder while there being easier and cheaper option available of having some plain clothes man passing as VIP?
- As observed before, it is amusing to find wet underwears and soaked bathing soap in the car. If true, it can only be surmised that that they were not on the suicidal mission as projected. Besides soaps and underwear, the Police are reported to have recovered bags containing clothes and incriminating literature. One wonders, whether these people were on a suicidal mission or were tourists carrying everything on their backs. No sane person would accept it as a normal occurrence.
- The Police Commissioner in his first address itself declared them as ‘Islamic’ terrorists and Pak based ‘fidayeens’. The fact remains that their identities are still not established. Although the papers have carried their names and places in Pakistan, the Nagpur police have yet not confirmed them. If so, on what basis the CP declared them Islamic terrorists and Pakistani fidayeens? Did he not know the communal connotations associated with these terms and the possible consequences, particularly when the targeted object was none other than the RSS headquarters? As a matter of fact, these declarations had led to some communal elements putting up banners with provocative communal overtone at several places in Nagpur, which would have resulted in communal conflagration. A photograph of one of such banners is attached as Annexure 12. A well known social activist and President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan- Mr. Kishor Tiwari had to file a criminal writ petition (No. 754/2005) and getting the High Court to order for their (banners’) immediate removal by the Police.
- The alleged attack on the RSS headquarter can only be termed symbolic. It is not a public place to inflict large scale damage. In such a case the Terrorist organization that sponsored this attack would have claimed the responsibility as in many past cases. Despite wide scale publicity that the incident received, it is surprising that none has come forward to claim responsibility. Because of this, its motive and in corollary entire episode becomes questionable.
- It is said that the three alleged terrorists fired 76 rounds and 11 police people fired 63 rounds. Considering the fact that the terrorists had three AK-Ms and the police party had at least four (there were at least four officers) AK-47s, (which fire nearly same number of rounds per second as AK-M) and 7 pistols (one each with seven policemen), the approximately balancing tally of rounds appears unconvincing. In normal course the police score in number of rounds fired would be expected to be far more than that of the terrorists because of the sheer bigger number of the former and because the slain terrorists being immobilized fairly immediately as per most versions. Even otherwise, it stands to logic that their effective strength during the period of fire would be less than three. How could their score exceed that of the police?
- The pattern of bullets on the wall around the spot has been carefully marked by circles around them. As remarked earlier the marks on the soft wall cannot be a conclusive basis to infer the points of fire. However, as supplementary evidence, a comment on them may not be out of place. Many of these marks clearly show the direction of the hit, which directly conflicts with the official version. The walls parallel to the car could not possibly have a right angle hit. However, in our perfunctory glance we could see at least two (out of six) such marks on the wall of Bharat Mahila Vidyalay. The CID official present at the site explained that such marks are possible by reflection of the bullets after hitting a hard surface. On probing further, he couldn’t however explain how each bullet could have been reflected and hit the wall at right angle.
- If the terrorists had fired approximately equal number (give exact number) of bullets, there would be some marks left on the walls on the side of police. There is hardly any mark of terrorist bullets to be seen on the other side, except on the Police vehicle- Tata Sumo. The other vehicle, we were told did not have any damage. In view of the fact that the terrorists had fired from their AK-M that sprays bullet at the rate of 10 per second and in desperation should indicate more straying than the police’s case. However, the evidence is contrary.
- All the six bullet marks on the blue Tata Sumo of the police, are single shot marks. There is no series of bullet marks (which is expected of if the opponent was using an automatic gun AK-M gun in this case) that raises the doubt over nature of exchange of fire.
- The blue Tata Sumo vehicle that was in front of Qualis, carrying 9 police personnel, stood closer to the ambassador car and hence was expected to have more bullet hits. It had in all six bullet marks. The places at which these marks are observed causes confusion about the position in which the car was parked. If the car was hit in the front near the head lamp, it could not possibly have perpendicular hits at the left side of the car and one at the inside of the right side door. Like the bullet marks, the glass panes of this vehicle also were smashed. Moreover, it is important to know when these hits occurred. Prima facie, the bullet marks on Sumo appeared to violate the official version.
- One bullet hole was found (in the police blue Tata Sumo vehicle) on the right side front door from inside. The point of hit was approximately at the hip of the driver. Considering the fact that sumo had full occupancy, and was caught in fire by the terrorist, as per the official version, some of the people would have been surely killed by this bullet. We found bullet marks on the same police vehicle hit from three angles on the left side of the vehicle. Three bullets were 45 degree from behind, two bullets 90 degree on the left and one bullet130 degree farther from the hit just below the front windshield.
- The blue Tata Sumo vehicle that was tailing behind the terrorist vehicle had six bullet marks. Two of them at least apparently pistol bullet marks. The police report did not mention terrorists having used pistols. How did pistol bullet mark appear on the police vehicle?
- The question arises, if the vehicle was not on the move during the attack, (as the bullet did not hit the driver), then how did the bullet mark appear from three angles? This question assumes significance as it was not possible for the terrorists to move to such wide range and fire from all three angles, for, they were caught in their vehicle that was trapped in a narrow alley and they were largely immobilized.
- It is interesting to examine the photographs of the ill fated Ambassador car used by the so called terrorists. The photographs -Annexure 13, 14, and 15 clearly show the front glass of the car completely smashed, whereas the photographs – (Annexure 16 and 17) show only 5-6 bullet holes. Considering the position that the rear of the car faced the volley of police bullets, it is foxing that the rear of the car had neat bullet holes where as the front, which did not face any firing, had its entire glass smashed. Most versions, eyewitnesses (including Saraf) indicate that the firing took place only from the rear side of the car. Who then fired upon the car at the front?
These are mere indicative questions that arose during our analysis. Obviously, there could be many more questions, if some one takes up an incisive analysis. Only additional information with police could easily eliminate some of them. Unfortunately, the Nagpur Police has displayed high degree of hostility and disrespect towards the committee, which could be said to be unprecedented in the history of civil rights movement in the country. The hostile reaction of the police if seen in the context itself throws up some natural questions, which we have resisted to ask.
Taking into account all the data and facts available to us and after careful analysis thereof we have come to a conclusion that the official version given by the Police Commissioner of the incident is not at all plausible. What is clear is that the incident took place in which three youth lost their lives at the hand of police, communal passions have been fanned to the advantage of certain outfits to certain extent and the police have been eulogized for the excellent work done which incidentally brought them significant monetary gains. Everything else is shrouded in mystery. It is a fact that the police could not reveal the identity of the slain youth even after a month after the incident. Were they really terrorists out on a mission as made out? What if they were not? Sometimes, the incidents can be reverse analyzed from the costs and benefits that they bring to various people. Look at this incident and you would be stunned by the answer you yourself would get. Is it not just an article of faith that the youth were terrorists; that they were going to attack the RSS headquarters? In light of the above discussion, no sane person would answer this question in negative.
The Fact Finding Committee strove to collect the facts over three days but due to hostile attitude of the Police many of the sources of vital information, such as Doctors who performed postmortem on the bodies, police personnel participating in the action, and the senior Police officials were completely blocked. As a result we could not obtain explanations to many of the questions that kept cropping in our mind. While we diligently followed the secondary sources and exercised utmost care in our analysis, we believe, the access to the primary sources of information could have certainly benefited us in as much as our discussion would benefit the Police in their investigation.
Our conclusions are certainly constrained by these additional limitations unusually imposed on us in this Fact Finding. Generally speaking, the Civil Rights Organizations, working on behalf of people do not possess resources to reach the bottom of the truth of every matter of pubic interest. They serve the purpose however in facilitating formulation of the problem and with their viewpoint indicate the areas for further investigation. To carry out this investigation becomes the responsibility of the democratic state. Since the executive action is the subject of investigation, this investigation needs to be carried out by an agency with the resource backing from the state, which would carry the confidence of people. In view of this, we put forth following demands before the state.
- A Judicial Enquiry headed by a retired Judge of the Supreme/High Court be ordered into the incident to reach the truth.
- A case should be registered under IPC Sec. 302 in the present incident against the police personnel involved in the incident as per the NHRC guidelines. NHRC guidelines passed in 1996 state that in any encounter, death caused by the police is a cognizable offence. Right to self-defense cannot be presumed. Therefore, a case should be filed against the police personnel involved in the encounter killing and they should defend their case that they acted in self-defense later.
- The reward declared by several states to the police personnel involved in the action should be withheld until the truth is established by the above committee.
- The identity of the slain youth be determined and be made public.