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Saffron terror

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Subject: Hindu terrorism, Religious terrorism, Nationalist terrorism, Conservative terrorism, Jewish religious terrorism
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Saffron terror

Saffron terror (or Hindutva terror[1]) is a [3][4][5]


The first known use of the term "Saffron Terror" is from an 2002 article in Frontline in reference to 2002 Gujarat Riots.[6] However it was in the aftermath of the 29 September 2008 bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in Maharashtra that it came to be used widely.[7] In late 2008, Indian police arrested members of a Hindu terrorist cell allegedly involved in Malegaon blast. The blame for several of these attacks has been placed on radical Islamist groups; one group, which calls itself Indian Mujahedeen, claimed responsibility for several attacks.[8] Former Home Minister of India P. Chidambaram urged Indians to beware of "Saffron terror" in August 2010 at a meeting of state police chiefs in New Delhi.[9] Since making that remark, a Hindu Swami in the Patan district has filed a defamation lawsuit against Chidambaram, saying that the saffron colour is symbol of Hindu religion and that saints across the country wear attire of the same colour. The Swami also said that saffron was a symbol of peace, sacrifice and God, and that Chidambaram has hurt the sentiments of Hindus by linking the symbol with terrorism.[10] On 6 September 2010, a Gujarat court ordered a probe into the use of the term by Chidambaram.[11] Chidambaram was also criticised by members of his own party (the Indian National Congress) for the use of the term, with Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi claiming "terrorism does not have any colour other than black".[12]

The saffron colour appears in the party flags of various national parties of India like the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janatha Party.[13][14] Saffron-coloured flag is commonly seen in most temples in India. Buddhist monks typically wear saffron robes as a symbol of wisdom.[15] It has been debated that the term "saffron terrorism" is a misnomer considering the historical descriptions of the saffron colour compared to the definitions of terrorism.[16][17] Saffron is the colour of the upper band of the Indian National Flag. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was India's first Vice-President and second President, described the saffron colour as follows.[18]


The term "saffron terror" has been called a "myth" by the journalist Balbir Punj who claims that it is an invention of the Congress party to demonise their political opposition as "terrorists".[19] Similar views have been expressed by other journalists in India.[20] Bahukutumbi Raman, a former head of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), criticised the term as a tool for political posturing toward the Muslim minority.[21] Kanchan Gupta and Swapan Dasgupta, have accused investigators of making statements using "saffron terror" to the media to promote the agenda of the Congress.[22][23] Raman accused the media of measuring Muslim and Hindu suspects by different yardsticks.[24]

The WikiLeaks released US embassy cables in which The US ambassador to India scornfully dismissed suggestions by an Indian minister that the death of Hemant Karkare, a senior anti-terrorism investigator killed by Islamist militants during the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was somehow orchestrated by Hindu extremists. The term "saffron terror" was prominently used by some Congress party members in this campaign, most prominently by Digvijay Singh.[26][27] The BJP criticised these statements and filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India citing it as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct for political parties. The Election Commission issued a show-cause notice to Digvijay Singh on this complaint.[28] The Hindu spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has also criticised it saying that it is a myth and insult to Hindu religion, which he said is the most tolerant religion.[29]

Alleged acts of saffron terror

Hindu extremist organisations have been accused of involvement in terrorist attacks like 2006 Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid bombing (Hyderabad), Samjhauta Express bombings and the Ajmer sharif dargah blast.

2007 Samjhauta Express bombings

Twin blasts shook two coaches of the [33][34] On 8 January 2011, Swami Aseemanand, a pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), confessed that he was involved in the bombing of Samjhauta express,[35] a statement he later claimed to have made under duress.[36] Aseemanand claimed that he was tortured to give a false statement.[37]

There have also been allegations that Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible for the bombings.[38] The United States declared Arif Qasmani, a Pakistani national and alleged 'LeT financier', to be the chief coordinator of the 2006 train bombing in Mumbai as well as the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings, and labelled him an international terrorist via the United Nations.[39][40][41] As of 2013, nobody has been convicted for the crime in India.[42]

Ajmer Dargah attack

The Ajmer Dargah blast occurred on 11 October 2007, outside the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its groups.[43] On 22 October 2010, five accused perpetrators, of which four said to belong to the RSS, were arrested in connection with the blast.[44] Swami Aseemanand, in his confession, implicated the then General Secretary Mohan Bhagwat and pracharak Indresh Kumar for ordering the terrorist strike.[45] Bhavesh Patel, another accused in the bombings, has corroborated these statements but later said that the Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde forced him to implicate the RSS leaders. Some other senior Congress leaders were also mentioned.[46]

2008 Malegaon blasts

On 29 September 2008, three bombs exploded in the States of Gujarat and Maharashtra killing 8 persons and injuring 80. During the investigation in Maharashtra, a Hindu group was alleged to have been involved in the blasts. Three of the arrested persons were identified as Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur,[47][48] Shiv Narayan Gopal Singh Kalsanghra and Shyam Bhawarlal Sahu. All three were produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Nashik, which remanded them to custody till 3 November.[49] On 28 October, the Shiv Sena, came out in support of the accused saying that the arrests were merely political in nature. Lending credence to this, the party chief, Uddhav Thackeray, pointed out a potential conflict of interest in political rivalry as the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) controlled the relevant ministry.[50] NIA, National Investigation Agency, has found no evidence against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and it has recommended the court to drop all charges against her.[51]

The Army officer Prasad Shrikant Purohit was also accused of being involved in the blast.[52] His counsel alleged that he was being falsely framed for political reasons because he has intelligence data of a sensitive nature pertaining to the operations of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, which could embarrass some quarters.[53]

Mecca Masjid bombing

The Mecca Masjid bombing occurred on 18 May 2007 inside the Mecca Masjid, a mosque in Hyderabad. Fourteen people were reported dead in the immediate aftermath.[54] The National Investigation Agency,[55] Central Bureau of Investigation[56] and Anti Terrorist Squad (India)[57] questioned former members of the RSS[58][59] On 19 November 2010, the Central Bureau of Investigation produced Swami Aseemanand before the court in connection with the Blast. But later he has retracted the confession citing the mental and physical pressure to provide that confession.[60] The Special investigation Team (SIT) of Hyderabad Police arrested ‘south India commander’ of the LeT, identified as Shaik Abdul Khaja alias Amjad, from Afzalgunj area of the city. Police said that the arrestee was linked to Mohammed Abdul Shahid Bilal, key suspect in the bombing.[61]

The South Asia Terrorism Portal,[62] the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses,[63] the National Counter-terrorism Center[64] the United States,[65] and the United Nations[66] reported that Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami was actually behind the attacks while excluding involvement by any Hindu group. Noting this, security analyst Bahukutumbi Raman has questioned "the two different versions that have emerged from Indian and American investigators."[67] The South Asia Terrorism Portal cited Vikar Ahmed as a main suspect in the blast.[61][68] Mohammed Abdul Shahid Bilal, former chief of HuJI’s Indian operations, is also regarded as a key suspect in the Mecca Masjid bombing. Later he was shot by unknown gunmen in Karachi on 30 August 2007.[61][69]

Other allegations

Members of Abhinav Bharat have been alleged to have been involved in a plot to kill Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh President Mohan Bhagwat,[70] allegedly with the help of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.[71] Headlines Today released a recorded video tested by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory which indicated the uncovering of an alleged plot to assassinate the Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari.[72] Tehelka also released alleged audio tape transcripts of main conspirators of Abhinav Bharat, which indicated involvement of Military intelligence officers with the Abhinav Bharat group, in their January 2011 edition.[73]

The Indian [74]

According to released documents by WikiLeaks, Congress(I) party's general secretary Rahul Gandhi remarked to US Ambassador Timothy Roemer, at a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister of India at his residence in July 2009, that the RSS was a "bigger threat" to India than the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. Panchjanya recorded that the statement showed that Gandhi "is totally unaware of the history of Hindutva as well as the concept of nationalism."[75] At The Annual Conference of Director Generals of Police held in New Delhi on 16 September 2011, a special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) reportedly informed the state police chiefs that Hindutva activists have either been suspected or are under investigation in 16 incidents of bomb blasts in the country.[76][77]

See also


  1. ^ Gatade 2011.
  2. ^ Christophe Jaffrelot (29 January 2009). "A running thread of deep saffron". Indian Express. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  3. ^ "Beware of saffron terror too, warns home minister". The Economic Times. 26 August 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "PC defends ‘saffron terror’ remark". Deccan Herald. 1 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Rise of Hindu 'saffron terror' New straits Times". 25 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Praful Bidwai (8 November 2008). "Saffron Terror". Frontline. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  7. ^ "Malegaon blasts arrests vital in exposing Hindu terrorism". 30 October 2008. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  8. ^ India police say they hold 9 from Hindu terrorist cell, New York Times – October 12, 2008
  9. ^ "Saffron Terrorism — a new phenomenon, says Home Minister Chidambaram". 25 August 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
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  11. ^ "Court orders probe into PC's saffron terror remarks".  
  12. ^ TNN (28 August 2010). "Congress ticks off Chidambaram over 'saffron terror' remark". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  13. ^ "Article II-A Party Flag". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Article II-A Party Flag". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  15. ^ O'Brien, Barbara. "The Buddha's Robe". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "On we the people:Is saffron terror a misnomer or real threat". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "Hindu terror is a misnomer, says RSS chief". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "flagcodeofindia". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Not terrified of terrorism Daily Pioneer – 12 December 2008
  20. ^ Rip off 'secular' media's mask The Pioneer – 24 November 2008
  21. ^ "Muslim Anger Vs Hindu Anger, International Terrorism Monitor – Paper No. 466". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  22. ^  
  23. ^  
  24. ^ Why politicising the Malegaon case is dangerous Rediff — 17 November 2011
  25. ^ Jug Suraiya (18 November 2008). "SUBVERSE | Unholy terrors".  
  26. ^ Copy of diplomatic cable dated 23 December 2008 (10 December 2010). "US Embassy Cables: Mumbai Conspiracy Allegations 'Outrageous' – US Ambassador". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  27. ^ Shekhar, Kumar Shakti (20 December 2010). "Offence is Cong’s defence". The Pioneer. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  28. ^ "Deuce! EC notice to Sonia, Digvijay". The Economic Times. 10 December 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
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  33. ^ "Lt Colonel Purohit: Did the Army sell short an effective officer?". 30 June 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2013. One by one, 59 witnesses, all from the Army, have told a Court of Inquiry — step one of Army's legal process- why they believe Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit was just doing his job by fraternising with right-wing extremists. ..Officers have testified that Lieutenant Colonel Purohit had, in the course of his duties, infiltrated organisations like the Students Islamic Movement of India or SIMI. This is exactly what he had been ordered to do as a military intelligence man. 
  34. ^ "I infiltrated Abhinav Bharat: Purohit". Hindustan Times. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
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  38. ^ "US review finds five warnings of Headley’s militant links — India — DNA". Daily News and Analysis. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  39. ^ ramesh (9 January 2011). "Curious case of Qasmani, who US,UN named in bombing". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 March 2013. "In return for Qasmani's support, Al-Qaida provided him with operatives to support the July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai, India, and the February 2007 Samjota Express bombing in Panipat, India. Qasmani also facilitated the movement of Al-Qaida personnel out of Afghanistan in 2001," states the UN's narrative summary justifying the action against Qasmani. The US justification is similar. 
  40. ^ Sachin Parashar url= (11 May 2011). "LeT trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction with help from Qaida". The Times of India. 
  41. ^ "Samjhauta Express Blast Vs Mumbai Terror Attacks by Radhavinod Raju". Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  42. ^ "Samjhota Express 6th Anniversay: Never forget brutal terror against Pakistanis". Rupee News. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  43. ^ Mohan, Vishwa (9 January 2011). "Co-conspirators saw RSS man as ISI mole".  
  44. ^ "Four of five Ajmer blast accused have RSS links: ATS".  
  45. ^ Aseemanand links Mohan Bhagwat to terror attacks
  46. ^ Ajmer blast accused claims Shinde forced him to name RSS chief Bhagwat
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  53. ^ Agencies. "Malegaon probe: ‘Purohit could even be eliminated by ATS’". Express India. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  54. ^ Homepage | Deccan Chronicle
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  66. ^ "US, UN declare HuJI a terror group". 7 August 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
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  68. ^ "India — Timeline Year 2008". Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
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  73. ^ "The Unturned Stone". Tehelka. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
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  • Gatade, Subhash (2011). Godse's Children: Hindutva Terror in India. Pharos Media & Publishing.  

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