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Probe into Ajmer dargah blast makes little headway

Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: More than a month after a bomb explosion killed three persons in the Ajmer dargah, the Rajasthan police are still groping in the dark to nail the perpetrators of the crime. They have failed to find any evidence to support their initial claims of the blast having a “Hyderabad link” in view of its resemblance to the Makkah Masjid incident.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT), confining its probe to the purported role of Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) in the October 11 blast, has picked up a number of clerics and madrasa teachers from as far as Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The police had claimed to have nabbed “terror suspects”, but could not get anything substantial from them.

SIT strategy

The SIT’s strategy to prove that HuJI was recruiting local Muslim youths in the Shekhawati region and that its network was spreading through mosques and madrasas failed when it had to release an Imam, Abdul Hafiz Shameem, detained in Khandela, and a Sardarshahar-based madrasa teacher, Khushbur Rehman, picked up in Jharkhand.

Muslim groups in the State have protested against the continued detention of nearly a dozen persons despite the absence of any proof of their involvement in the crime and fear that police would extract “fake confession” from them. Both Mr. Shameem and Mr. Rehman have claimed that they were tortured in police custody.

The SIT – apparently under pressure to show quick results following the demand to transfer the probe to the Central investigating agencies – put the Hurriyat leadership in Kashmir under scanner this past week. It reportedly questioned Hurriyat leader G.M. Bhatt, an associate of hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, suspecting him of being part of a hawala racket allegedly used for funding the terror attack at the Sufi shrine.

Two former employees of the Ajmer branch of Bombay Mercantile Bank, who were caught in Udhampur while allegedly ferrying a hawala consignment of Rs.50 lakh to the Kashmir Valley, are stated to be Mr. Bhatt’s accomplices. However, the SIT has not made much progress on this lead.

Theological difference

Clerics set free from SIT’s detention feel that the investigators are concentrating on theological differences among Muslims to establish that since Islamist outfits believing in the Wahabi doctrine were opposed to worshipping at Sufi shrines, they must have carried out the dargah blast. Muslim groups, finding this logic strange, point out that if Wahabi outfits could be blamed for the blast on this ground, there were ample reasons for suspecting a host of other organisations that were equally intolerant of the syncretic tradition of Hindus and Muslims visiting dargahs. “It is strange that the Hindu rightist groups are being completely excluded from the probe,” said All India Milli Council leader Abdul Latif.

Jamat-e-Islami Hind State president Mohammed Salim said the investigation hitting a roadblock was the result of intelligence, administration and police force in the State being infiltrated by persons with dubious credentials.

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