There is a lack of political will to go after them

The recent spotlight on Hindu right-wing organisations Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Sena (HJS) for their involvement in the murder of social activists and rationalists such as Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and M.M. Kalburgi has forced the central intelligence agencies to focus on an area they have traditionally neglected.
For instance, over the last month, they have received hundreds of inputs about the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), and the newly created Laskhar-e-Islami planning terrorist strikes in India. Islamic State (IS), too, is under the scanner. But Hindu right-wing groups, or fringe organisations as they are commonly referred to, seldom find mention in these alerts, several counter-terrorism officials confirmed to The Hindu. They said that while they have been able to prove the involvement of certain individuals, it has been difficult to prove the culpability of the entire organisation, as they had done in the case of Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Indian Mujahideen, both of which were banned.
For example, a copy of an input generated by the intelligence agencies in August (The Hindu has a copy) mentions threats from farmers agitation to Al Qaeda to those from paragliders but none on any Hindu fringe group.
While lack of resources is mentioned as an excuse not to investigate the Hindu outfits, there has also not been any serious effort to join the dots.
An official said, “It’s simple: if the top brass wants the activities of the fringe groups to be monitored then the message should be sent down the line. There have been occasions when our boys have generated such inputs but they have not been followed to the logical conclusion due to lack of intent or willingness from the top.”
The Multi Agency Centre (MAC) was set up in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008 to collate all intelligence inputs in the country and circulate it among all stakeholders, including the State police. These inputs seldom mention the activity of any Hindu right-wing group. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has a desk that focusses on “communal incidents” but the activities of these groups are not being recorded.
“Why these groups are not being watched can also lead to the conclusion that they are not indulging in any grave anti-national activity, but that is not the case,” another officer said.
But former Union Home Secretary and BJP MP R.K. Singh said: “Investigation is not divided on the basis of religion. Our agencies are manned by people who are the most secular in the world. In fact, the previous Director of Intelligence Bureau [Syed Asif Ibrahim] was a Muslim. As far as MAC inputs are concerned, a majority were on groups which sponsored terror from across the border, backed by Pakistan’s ISI. It was the only threat. [We] never came across any threat from Hindu groups except Sanatan Sanstha that the Home Ministry recommended for a ban [in 2009].”
An IB official, instrumental in the arrest of Abhinav Bharat members Lt. Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and others for their involvement in the Malegaon (2006 and 2008), Mecca Masjid (2007), Samjhauta Express (2007) and Ajmer Sharief (2007) blasts, said: “Alarm bells always ring, but do we always hear it? The involvement of Abhinav Bharat was one such case; we joined the dots and cracked it. The weakness of the system is that such small groups are let to incubate and gather strength.”
It was during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s time that Abhinav Bharat was identified and nine Muslim members were arrested for their involvement in the Malegaon blasts.
It is not just about lack of resources, but also about political will. “There was a UPA Home Minister who refused to initiate action against Muslims as well as Hindus,” an IB official recalled. “He was against the arrest of Muslims in terror-related cases for the fear of losing the support of minorities, and Hindus because of his religious leanings,” he said.