Little is known about Abhinav Bharat, the Saffron Terror outfit which figures prominently in the investigations into the Malegaon bomb blasts.
In an article in the Malayalam weekly Kalakaumudi, Bonnie Thomas of Mumbai says Abhinav Bharat was an organization set up by V. D. Savarkar, the freedom fighter and Hindutva ideologue. He is credited with having propounded the theory that Hindus and Muslims constitute separate nations long before the All India Muslim League and Mohammed Ali Jinnah advanced it in support of the Pakistan demand.
The official website of Nashik provides some information about Savarkar’s Abhinav Bharat.
Abhinav Bharat appears to have two new avatars.
According to Bonnie Thomas, it took rebirth in its present terrorist form at a meeting at Raigarh in Mharashtra in June 2006. Savarkar’s daughter-in-law Himani Savarkar is its president. She is the daughter of Gopal Godse, brother of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.
Both Savarkar and Gopal Godse were tried along with Nathuram in the Gandhi murder case. While Savarkar was acquitted, Gopal Godse served a jail term.
Bonnie Thomas says Abhinav Bharat, at its website, registered on May 19, 2007, has named a retired Major, Ramesh Upadhyaya as its working president. He is now in custody, facing charges of providing training to the Malegaon bombers.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad claims to have found evidence that links Lt-Col Shreekant Prasad Purohit with Upadhyaya and Abhinav Bharat. He is the first serving officer of the army to be hauled up for terrorist activity.
A trust, which has its registered office at Savarkar Sadan, Dadar, Mumbai, has claimed that it is the real Abhinav Bharat and that the organization which is under the ATS scanner is an imposter.
Pankaj Phadnis, Settler and Advisory Trustee of Abhinav Bharat, said in a press release issued on October 29: “The Trustees of Abhinav Bharat are deeply dismayed to find the term ‘Abhinav Bharat’ being tarnished by alleged activities of some individuals who are in no way connected with Abhinav Bharat. This is to set the record straight in terms of the so-called involvement of Abhinav Bharat in Malegaon Blast Case.
“It is well known that Abhinav Bharat was a revolutionary society formed sometime in 1905 by Veer Savarkar in order that India attains Absolute Political Independence. Its prominent members included Madam Cama, Sikander Hyat Khan, Acharya Kriplani, Balasaheb Kher, Harnam Singh amongst countless others. Inspired by Mazzini, the famed Italian revolutionary, it was a truly secular, non sectarian body committed to Absolute Political Independence of India. The sacrifices made by its members are the stuff legends are made of. Once the Goal of Absolute Political was attained, Veer Savarkar publicly dissolved Abhinav Bharat in Pune.
“In 2001, ‘Abhinav Bharat’ was registered as a charitable trust under Bombay Public Trust Act 1950 bearing registration number 19962. Donations to the Trust are exempt under Section 80 G of the Income Tax Act. Details are given on the Web Site as also in Annexure I. Some of the prominent details of the Trust are:
• The Deed of Declaration of the Trust was signed on the Easter Day of 2001 – April 15, 2001
• Three of its Publication were e-released on March 23, 2008, the only time in last one hundred years that the Martyrdom Day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Raj Guru coincided with the Easter Day.
• Access to its web site www.abhinavbharat.org is open only those who confirm that they “shall work towards a Peaceful, Plural, Inclusive and Just Human Society.” Enclosed herewith as Annexure II is an extract “The Relevance of Bahadur Shah Zafar Today” from the latest publication of Abhinav Bharat – “The British Mutiny of 1857”. This is also available on the web site
• Currently, it has sponsored a Doctoral Study in University of Mumbai on Universalization of Primary Education.
“The organization which is being investigated for its alleged involvement in Malegaon Blast Case is an unauthorized and illegal user of the term ‘Abhinav Bharat’ and therefore an Imposter. ‘Abhinav Bharat’ – the Trust is in no way connected with this Imposter Organization or any of its members in any manner. It is therefore requested that the media may kindly use the term ‘Imposter Abhinav Bharat’ to report the activities of the organization that is illegally using the term Abhinav Bharat”
According to information available at the trust’s website Pankaj Phadnis, who is a BE (Mechanical) and Master in Managament, is the CEO of its Project Light. Apart from Phadnis, it has three more trustees, all women. They are: Manjiri Phadnis, a Commerce graduate and Yoga teacher, who is the Managing Trustee, Meena Prabhu, a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Secretary, who is its Secretary, and Madhumita Bal, also a Chartered Accountant, who is the CFO of Project Light.
The trust’s website includes a blog. One of the two blog posts is titled, “ Who killed the Mahatma?” It says, “The Mahatma may not have known the details but he, given his astuteness in matters of money, could not have been unaware of the betrayal of Dardrinarayan by his own followers and died a thousand deaths at the their perfidy.
Yes, Nathuram Godse did kill the Mahatma physically on January 30, 1948 but Who killed his Spirit on August 15, 1947 ? It is for the readers to decide.”