Mahanayak (June 6) front paging its special story titled “Operation Sangh Headquarters fake?”, reported that there was point in Dr. Pravin Togadia’s claim that the attack on the Sangh headquarter was fake. Among the points it marshaled in support of the suspicion was the equal number of rounds fired from both the sides while there were 11 policemen versus 3 terrorists. If all had fired intensely for over 20 minutes, the ultimate tally of rounds should have been far exceeded that of terrorists. The same paper on June 7 titles its story on the front page “the Show of Attack on the Sangh headquarters had the forthcoming elections in the five states”. It raised some more points against its plausibility such as that the terrorists on such an important mission even did not know the roads to their target. Next day (June 8), it again front pages its story written by Ujwala Tupsundare with a title, “Great Benefit to RSS from the Terrorist Attack”. Notwithstanding the lack of analytical rigour of the story, it cannot be denied that the main beneficiary of such acts has been the RSS.
The reporter gives details of many acts of indiscipline of the eleven police personals and wonders how and on what basis they were selected for Special Squad to handle such an important assignment in the RSS headquarter. Navbharat Mahanagar of June 4 seemed to corroborate partially this Mahanayak comment when it wrote that “There were some policemen whom Yadav considered useless (zeros) but now they have become heroes.”
The Mahal area of Nagpur in which the RSS headquarter is situated is a part of the old city and is very congested with small lanes and old houses. The Aditwar Darwaza lane where this incident took place has similarly many houses. Although it took place in the wee hours of the night, the loud sound of firing hardly a few feet away woke up many of their inmates who variously watched the incident. We tried to meet some of them and were lucky to get members of Daudkhanis to talk to us.
At the spot, we met Nitin Daudkhani, a younger son of Mr. S. D. Daudkhani, who said he practiced priesthood and homeopathy. Nitin was quite cooperative and did not hesitate telling us what he saw. This was his version of the incident: At around 4 am he was woken up by the big thud. He was sleeping on the first floor and when he woke up he could clearly see through the window that some people in police uniform pushing aside the barricade that had fallen flat. He surmised that the thud sound was of the fall of the barricade. After making way, one white Ambassador, with a red beacon crossed it and stopped. One fellow in the police uniform got down from the car and ran behind. He could not see him thereafter but then a volley of bullets followed in the direction of the car. There was a pause and again the firing had started. He said that there was no firing from the car. He confirmed that the car was clearly seen from his window and he saw nothing happening there. Initially, he thought that it was a police drill that they saw just a fortnight ago at the same stop. We repeatedly asked Nitin to confirm that there was no firing from the car and he variously confirmed it. His explanation was that the police firing was so dense that the two people seating in the rear might have died before they could do anything. On asking who else had witnessed it, Nitin answered that his parents also had seen it. His mother had opened the door but a policeman promptly signaled her to shut it. The firing, according to Nitin lasted for some 15 minutes. He said that two terrorists who were seating on the back seat had fallen out dead from the rear doors. His explanation was that the hinges of the car might have been broken because of the firing and they opened up and the dead men fell out. He showed us actual spot where the bodies were found and the position of the car. There were blood spot marking these positions that could be clearly seen. The position of the bodies indeed was very close to the rear doors of the car.
We met with Nitin’s parents inside their house. Mr. Suresh Dattatraya Daudkhani is a retired Government servant. The family was extremely hospitable. He told us that he was sleeping on ground floor and was woken up by some big thud. He went up to see what happened. What he described approximately matched with Nitin’s version. Even Mrs. Charulata Daudkhani, Nitin’s mother reinforced her husband while he was speaking to us. As Nitin told us she confirmed that she had opened the door to see what was happening but was signaled by a policeman to go inside. She said that she and her husband saw the firing. They were not sure whether there was firing from the car. If at all, they said, it might have been very little. The firing on the car was so thick that the terrorists might have been killed in the first shower of bullets. On asking whether they saw a man coming out from the car and running with a grenade in hand. Senior Daudkhanis replied that they had not seen him. They thought that it might have happened before they reached upstairs. They also told us that initially they too had thought that it was a police drill, quite like they had seen a fortnight ago at the same spot.
In the next house, which lay little ahead of the spot where the car stood, we met with Mr. Daftari, an old man inside his house. He narrated his version but interspersed it by saying that parts of it he had heard from others. He was also woken up due to the thud as testified by the Daudkhanis. However, taking into account the position of house he could not have clearly seen the things as clearly as Daudkhanis. Mr Daftari however appeared to confirm that he had not seen any terrorists near the car and if at all they might have fired from inside. After the firing had stopped he also had seen two bodies lying on the road close to the rear doors of the car at the spot Nitin had shown us. If according to some versions, another police party had approached the spot from the other side; they would be just in front of the house of Mr. Daftari. Therefore we wanted to make sure about whether there was firing on the car from its front side. Mr. Daftari and a small boy (who may have been his grandson) who supplemented him confirmed that the firing happened only from behind the car.
We could not meet other people.
We spotted a Maruti omni van parked in the courtyard near Daudkhanis’ house as shown in the photograph (Annexure 3). We enquired with Nitin whether the van was parked there at the time of the incident. Nitin confirmed that it was parked at the very spot. We inspected it and saw no bullet mark or any scratch on it. Nitin also confirmed that it ‘miraculously’ escaped from being damaged.
Maruti omni van parked was here vis-à-vis the spot
We were shown the bullet marks on the walls, which were circled by police. Although, it was difficult to infer the direction of the hit but certain marks were clear enough to have right angle hit which was inexplicable taking into account the relative positions of the terrorists and police at the narrow lane. A photograph of some bullet marks on the compound wall of the Bharat Mahila Vidyalaya is attached as Annexure 4. We tried to search the bullet marks in the direction of where police might have positioned themselves. If there had been a volley of fire through two AK-Ms from or near the car, one expected stray shots hitting the Daudkhani’s house, the Maruti omni and even farther objects. But barring a couple of marks above the door, we could not find any.
A photograph of some bullet marks on the compound wall of the Bharat Mahila Vidyalaya
While investigating at the spot, Mr. Balwantrao Patil, who identified as an officer in Intelligence Bureau along with two of his constables reached us and began talking to us. What he said to us in tit bits had this information: He said that the driver of the car had run towards the police with hand grenade but was gunned down there. On asking why the bodies had to be hurriedly removed from the spot, he said that they were alive and needed to be carried to the hospital. Some members showed him the bullet marks that showed right angle hit on the school wall and a couple of them on the walls of the house next to Daudkhanis’ and asked him where they could be fired from. Mr. Patil explained that the bullets fired onto the car could hit the road and change direction to have such marks. On probing his explanation further, he could not answer our questions. Mr. Patil confirmed in response to our question that there were two policemen posted at the barricade. Probing further about their role, he explained that they may not be at the spot as they might walk around in the vicinity.
We went to the open space in front of the RSS HQ building and spoke to a shopkeeper there. He said that he did not live there and could not throw any light on the matter. They advised us to talk to the people who lived close by and told us the names of Daudkhanis. They confirmed that there was a heavy police security around the RSS headquarters over the past many years and ordinarily nobody could approach the building. Recently there have been three layers of police security guarding the building. One of the plainclothes policemen, who identified himself as the IB person, came running to us and asked us our identities and whether we had taken permission to inquire. He appeared quite disturbed. When we explained to him our purpose and intention of meeting the high officials of police, he went away. However, as we were leaving the place he came running again and scribbled down some of the names of the committee members.
We then went to Medical College Hospital to interview the Doctors who performed postmortem on the bodies. Unfortunately, we could not meet them as it was holiday. We accidentally saw Dr. B. G. Dhawane in the corridor and chatted with him for 10 to 15 minutes. Dr. Dhawane revealed the names of the Doctors who performed postmortem, ages of the terrorists, their colour, etc. but declined to reveal significant information without his senior’s permission. What he told us was: He was one of the four doctors who performed post mortem on the bodies. Other doctors were: Dr. P. G. Dixit, Dr. M. S. Vyavahare, Dr. Manish Shirigiriwar. The dead people were in their twenties and were fair in colour and could belong to North. They were not typical Kashmiris.
We then came to Kotwali to see Mr. Ajinkya Bobade, the Dy. Commissioner of Police, who was investigating the case. We had twice contacted him on phone to seek his appointment but he said he was entangled in a court case and he would meet us after he was free. Expecting that he could come any time (since by then it was evening), we reached Kotwali and met with the police PSI in charge. He gave us information on the case details from the register. We wanted to inspect the Ambassador car as well as the police vehicle. The car was completely covered with blue plastic sheet and police declined to open it up for us without their senior’s permission. We could however see a Tata Sumo, which was parked there without any cover. Sumo’s glasses were smashed. There were two bullet marks near the hinges of the left door at approximately 6 inches apart and a mark at the inside of the right hand door at the level of chest of the driver. There were few bullet marks at even the front near the head light. Mr. Balwantrao Patil, who had by then returned to Kotwali tried to explain the shots but on our probing questions got seemingly confused. Apparently, the mark near the driver’s seat could not be explained because if the terrorists had opened fire, the occupants could not have got down from the vehicle, particularly nine of them had occupied it. The bullet should have pierced the bodies of more than one front-seaters before hitting the driver. Moreover the bullet marks right at the front and then on the left side of Sumo makes it quizzical to imagine its position vis-à-vis the terrorists’ car. Our discussions with Mr. Patil at least could not solve this riddle.
Next day we located the painter who was reported to have had painted the number plate of the car and subsequently identified one of the dead bodies and gave description of his companion who had come to his shop. The painter Ramlal has a small shop where mostly spray painting jobs are undertaken. There was evidence by way of a display board that it undertook painting of vehicle number plates on production of the original registration papers. We tried to talk to Ramlal with the mediation of a shop owner in the same lane but he flatly refused saying that he does not know anything. He was visibly disturbed. We talked to a couple of people in his neighborhood and they told us that he would not talk because he was under pressure of the local police. Ramlal is an important link in the episode inasmuch as it establishes that one of the slain persons had come to get the number plate painted and there was someone else with him. But Ramlal would not speak to us! It will stay as mystery how the police discovered him. One of the versions has it that he himself went to police but seeing him it appears unbelievable. We talked to people on the lane and they also opined similarly. They could not explain how he got entangled in this matter.