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Former IPS officer wants independent probe into Karkare's death

Last updated on: November 25, 2009 23:48 IST
Despite the Mumbai police declaring that two Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists including Ajmal Kasab killed Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare during the November 26, 2008 attacks, a former Indian Police Service officer wants the ATS chief's murder to be re-investigated.

Former Maharashtra Inspector General of Police S M Mushrif -- Karkare's senior in the state police -- has just published Who Killed Karkare-The Real Face of Terrorism in India. He discussed his controversial book with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa.

What led you to write the book?

This topic interested me. I was collecting material on the various communal riots that have rocked our country. As I was doing so, a strange thing happened. There was a spate of bomb blasts, which started to rock the nation.

The frequency of blasts started to increase after 2005. This was the time the Intelligence Bureau came into the limelight in a very big way. I started to wonder how IB reports could start appearing in the media when intelligence is supposed to be secretive.

A doubt crept into my mind. I realised that the IB had intentionally come into the picture so that it could misguide the nation and take every investigation on the wrong track.

Look at the Malegaon case. It proves everything that I am trying to say. This is when I thought that I should pen my thoughts.

According to you, these cases of terrorism would not have occurred had it not been for the communal riots.

The Babri Masjid incident and the Gujarat riots were a turning point.

Your book alleges that Hindu fundamentalists carried out a major share of terror acts in India. Are you suggesting that outfits like the Students Islamic Movement of India have absolutely no role in terrorism?

The cases against the Students Islamic Movement of India are fake. All the boys who were arrested were found to be innocent during the course of the investigation.

Look at the cases in Hyderabad. The court dismissed the cases against the boys.

Are you saying the police and Intelligence Bureau intentionally framed organisations like SIMI?

Look at the Nanded case. Wasn't it suppressed?

Is it only right-wing groups that spread terror? Is Pakistan an angel?

No. That is not what I am trying to say. Pakistan is our enemy and a threat from them is always there. They have caused enough damage in Kashmir.

What happened in Mumbai is a reality. It was an attack by Pakistan-based groups and there is no denying that.

This brings us to the title of your book. Who, according to you, killed Mr Karkare?

I have analysed the Mumbai attacks thoroughly. All the reports that are available suggest that the IB was aware of the attack at least five days in advance. They knew the entire operation; the route these terrorists were taking. However, it is strange that they did not pass on this information to the Mumbai police.

Instead, they alerted the Coast Guard, who everyone knows has very limited resources. My question is: Why were the Mumbai police not told about it?

This lack of intelligence led to the Mumbai attacks and some right-wing groups taking advantage of the situation to kill Karkare.

See, the thing is these right-wing groups, who were upset with the investigation into the Malegaon incident, could not have thought of any other opportunity to kill Karkare. Had they done so on some other occasion, then without batting an eyelid, the blame would have been on them.

They made good use of this lack of intelligence and were also aware that in the midst of such a big attack, Karkare would surely come on to the road to battle the terrorists.

They synchronised the attack to perfection and killed him.

If you recall, there was a specific threat to his life the very same day.

It is clear that they wanted to see the back of Karkare at any cost.

I salute this officer, even though he was my junior, for the manner in which he carried out the Malegaon investigation. He did it so systematically that it made several persons uneasy.

Are you 100 per cent sure of what you are saying?

I would not say I am 100 per cent sure. But I would also not rule out the possibility. This is an alternative theory which must be probed into. I have based this theory on various reports, including those that have appeared in the newspapers.

So you allege the attack on Mr Karkare was synchronised by right-wing groups while the rest of the operation was carried out by the Laskhkar-e-Tayiba.

Yes, that is right. Once again, I maintain that on Karkare's death, an alternative theory should be formed and the angle probed into.

Your book alleges that there was a deliberate attempt to block intelligence to the Mumbai police.

Yes, intelligence was deliberately blocked. I don't know why it was blocked. This, in fact, makes me wonder whether it was done to facilitate Karkare's killing.

Look at the way things unfolded. The IB was aware of the entire attack five days earlier. Instead of tipping off the Mumbai police they tell the Coast Guard.

Prior to the attack, the Union home department handed over 35 (cell phone) numbers to the IB, which were being used by the Lashkar to plan the attack.

Interestingly, the terrorists used three of these numbers at the time of the operation. Why didn't the IB track down these numbers when they had it with them?

Why did the probe into these numbers start only after the attacks? All this is fishy and only creates more and more doubts in one's mind.

Do you really think another probe should be conducted into Mr Karkare's death?

I have made a demand and suggested this in my book. Maybe I am not 100 per cent correct. But if a section of people think there is an alternative theory to his death, then why not probe it?

But that theory has already been probed and dismissed by the Mumbai police's Crime Branch.

Yes, I know that. Let them probe it once again. However, the probe must be independent.

The IB should not be involved in this probe and all officers associated with the existing team looking into the Mumbai attacks should not be part of the team probing this angle. I have made my suggestion and it is up to the government to look into the matter.

Image: The cover of S M Mushrif's book.

Also read: 26/11, A Year On

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru