Bangalore Jan 14: A Karnataka dacoit with links to a radical Hindu right wing group has confessed to having carried out the Hubli district court bombing of May 10, 2008.
The blast took place as the first phase of polling for the Karnataka Assembly elections was on - in a magistrate’s courtroom where cases against top Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) leaders including Safdar Nagori were scheduled to be heard two days later. The courtroom was empty at the time, but the building suffered extensive damage. The investigation was not concluded, but SIMI was widely believed to have been responsible.
Police in the northern Karnataka district of Bagalkot arrested 24-year-old Nagaraj Jambagi and eight associates on New Year’s Eve for robbing and murdering a businessman on December 29. The gang was also found to have been involved in three other murders, a kidnapping for ransom and robberies of over Rs 20 lakh over the past two years. Jambagi, however, led investigators to a more significant finding.
"Following his arrest Jambagi confessed to his role in the Hubli court blast of 2008. When we searched his house it led to the discovery of a pipe bomb. We don’t know what group he is associated with. We are trying to find that out," Inspector General of Police, Northern Division, Raghavendra Auradkar said.
According to the official police version, Jambagi and his gang are primarily dacoits who planted the bomb in a bid to "eliminate terrorists and anti-nationals", so that their criminal activities would be covered up, and they would earn sympathy.
Sources in the state police intelligence however told The Indian Express that Jambagi and two others in his gang - Ramesh Pawar and Lingaraj Jalagar, both 24 and from Bagalkot - "are members of a radical right wing Hindu group". The police were trying to find out "who was controlling their activities", a senior officer said.
Sources in Hubli said Jambagi at one point had links with the Sri Rama Sena, a right wing group started by the firebrand former Bajrang Dal leader from the region, Pramod Mutallik. Mutallik, however, denied any knowledge or association with Jambagi. "This is a mass organisation. Lots of people come and go. We can’t keep track of everyone. The police have only connected him to Hindu groups, not to the Sri Rama Sena," he said.
IGP Auradkar said Jambagi had obtained the bombs from one Hanumant Arjun Sainsakali, a 22-year-old technical diploma student from Indi on the Maharashtra border. Investigations in the aftermath of the blast showed the bomb was similar to the one used in the May 18, 2007 blast at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid.
The possibility of the involvement of Hindu radicals in the Mecca Masjid blast is under investigation. In the Maharashtra ATS’s investigation of the Malegaon blast - for which several Hindu activists have been arrested - no connections to Karnataka have so far emerged, sources said.
The Indian Express