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BJP in a fix on supporting 'terror tainted' RSS

Sunday, July 11, 2010 08:24:09 PM, Agencies

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New Delhi: The BJP seems to be undecided on whether to extend legal and political support to RSS functionaries being probed for links with a network of Hindutva terrorists.

Amid speculation about a meeting on Saturday between senior lawyer and BJP leader Arun Jaitley and RSS functionary and terror suspect Ashok Varshney, the party maintained silence on the issue.

BJP spokespersons stonewalled specific enquiries. While Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Shahnawaz Hussain remained engaged in a meeting in Patna, senior spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad was not available. Prakash Javdekar asserted that the RSS did not need any legal help.

"Where is the question of any legal assistance? Has anyone in the RSS been booked? Why are such canards being spread," he asked.

Sources said the BJP wants to tread with caution on Hindutva terror. The party has been hawkish on the issue of terrorism so far since most terror strikes earlier were carried out by Pakistan-based outfits.

But now when the BJP's ideological mother, the RSS, is being probed for terror links, the party is caught in a Catch-22 situation.

The umbilical cord between the BJP and the RSS makes it imperative for the BJP brass to support the Sangh at a time when it is under pressure from investigating agencies. At the same time, the party that has consistently blamed the Congress for turning India into a "soft state" can't be seen to be defending individuals accused of having terror links.

Three separate lines of investigations lead up to the RSS and Hindutva terror links. It first came to light with the arrest of Pragya Singh Thakur in connection with the Malegaon blast, being probed by Maharashtra's anti-terrorism squad. Pragya's links with the RSS and even the BJP were exposed when a photograph of her with former BJP president Rajnath Singh was unearthed by the media.

A few months ago, two RSS functionaries - Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma - were arrested by the Rajasthan Police in connection with the Ajmer shrine blasts in 2007.

Later, the CBI told a court that the Hindu terror module responsible for the Ajmer blast also had a hand in Hyderabad's Makkah Masjid blast in 2007.

And recently, RSS functionaries Varshney and Ashok Bery were interrogated for their alleged links with the Mecca Masjid blast and for allegedly harbouring Ajmer blast accused Gupta.

Bery was, till now, the prant pracharak (state in- charge) of Uttar Pradesh. He is now a member of the RSS national executive, which has about 15- 20 members. Varshney was the prant pracharak of Jharkhand.

In a meeting between top RSS functionary Madan Das Debi with the BJP brass - Rajnath, Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and organisation secretary Ram Lal - on July 7, the discussion reportedly centred around future strategy depending on how far the Congress- led government would go to probe the RSS for terror links.

The "political and legal" ramifications of the investigating agencies probing the Sangh's links with terror blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer and Hyderabad were discussed in the meeting.

Sources said the BJP leaders, particularly Jaitley, said he would be able to say something only after he talked to the two suspects - Varshney and Bery.

The reported meeting between Jaitley and Varshney on Saturday was apparently a follow- up of these discussions and the senior lawyer wanted to ascertain facts about the case.



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