Abhinav Bharat is a far-right Hindu organization founded by Retired Major of Indian Army Ramesh Upadhyay in 2006 in Pune, Maharashtra. It has a large base in Madhya Pradesh. The organization is believed to be the revived form of the pre-Independence era Abhinav Bharat Society. The activities of the organisations received widespread attention after Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested its member for Malegaon blast case. It has no relationship to the Mumbai-based charitable trust of the same name.
Abhinav Bharat was named after the Abhinav Bharat Society, an organisation founded by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1904. The original organization believed in armed revolution, and was responsible for the assassinations of some officers of the ruling British government before being disbanded in 1952.
The current Abhinav Bharat was founded in 2006 by Retired Major of Indian Army Ramesh Upadhyay and Lt.Col.Prasad Shrikant Purohit. The first few meetings of the new group took place in 2007. Himani Savarkar, the niece of Nathuram Godse and the wife of Vinayak Savarkar's nephew, was elected president of the group in 2008. During the first few meetings of the organisation, the members discussed the idea that Hinduism was in danger, and needed to be defended. In 2008, several of its members were arrested on the suspicion of being involved in the 2006 Malegaon bombings, and its official website was closed down.
Relationship with Sangh Parivar groups
Sangh Parivar representatives have distanced themselves from Abhinav Bharat (AB). Dr. Praveen Togadia, the former head of the VHP, fears that Abhinav Bharat is weaning away radicals from the VHP, from where much of the Abhinav Bharat membership originates. Among these included Sameer Kulkarni, the points-man for Abhinav Bharat in Madhya Pradesh, who was expelled from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in June 2008 for not following protocol within the organization. Abhinav Bharat has also been accused of plotting to kill senior RSS leaders including RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat who they thought weren't doing enough for Hindutva.
The Caravan news magazine conducted interviews of Swami Aseemanand to publish an exclusive profile, in which he named RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in relation to 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings, Ajmer Dargah attack and Mecca Masjid bombing. Later, Swami Aseemanand called the magazine article "fabricated" and threatened to launch legal action against the Caravan journalist. However, the Caravan defended its report and released tape recordings and transcripts of the interviews. National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case against Aseemanand, said he never named any RSS leader during questioning. The RSS, too, has rubbished the allegations. The Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde seems to believe the report.
Allegations of involvement in bombings
Following the arrest and investigation of Abhinav Bharat members Swami Aseemanand, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, Sunil Joshi and Rajendra Choudhary in connection with the 2006 Malegaon blasts, the organization has been investigated for its alleged role in 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings, Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid bombing, Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast and Jalna mosque bomb attack. In all these bombings 147 people were killed. Anti-Terrorism Squad Investigations have revealed that serving and retired army officers associated with Abhinav Bharat hijacked the organisation and motivated the youth to take up armed struggle against Muslims. Swapan Dasgupta notes that the group seemed little more "than a letterhead or part of a fantasy world".
Praveen Mutalik, who was arrested for his alleged role in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, is alleged to have received more than Rs 300,000 from Prasad Shrikant Purohit, a co-founder of the Abhinav Bharat. Anti Terrorist Squad (India) has alleged that Ajay Rahirkar the treasurer of Abhinav Bharat received Rs 1 million from various Hawala sources.
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