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NAGPUR

Terror is stopped within striking distance of RSS headquarters

Friday 2 June 2006, by DESHPANDE*Vivek

NAGPUR, JUNE 1 : In a pre-dawn encounter today, the Nagpur police shot dead three heavily-armed militants trying to storm the RSS headquarters in the Mahal area of the old city.

Arms and ammunition have been recovered in huge numbers. The militants, who were wearing police uniform, came in a white Ambassador car with a red light on top. It was intercepted barely 100 metres away from the RSS building.

Barring Sangh national executive member Indresh Kumar, no RSS leader was present in the building at the time of the incident. RSS chief K S Sudarshan was in Kolkata and general secretary Mohan Bhagwat was out on a tour.

The police have not yet disclosed the identity of the militants though there’s talk of the police looking at the links of the trio to the Lashkar-e-Toiba. They also said they had information that the three men had been in Patna before coming to Nagpur. A shoe recovered from them was apparently purchased at a shop in Patna.

Nagpur police commissioner S P S Yadav’s only remark was “They were fidayeen.”

Around 3.45 am, the three militants, who were wearing Maharashtra Police uniform, came in a white Ambassador car-the registration number MH-20B-8979 turned out to be that of a two-wheeler registered in Aurangabad-from Gandhibagh, a locality near Mahal.

A vigilance squad, trained exclusively for the security of the RSS headquarters, was on a routine patrol when it spotted the car. The policemen became suspicious that though the car had a red light, there was no escort vehicle.

Since the policemen were in unmarked vehicles - a Toyota Qualis and a Tata Sumo- they did not arouse suspicion in the militants. They followed the car and when it neared the barricade, they shouted at the Ambassador driver to stop.

One of the militants hurled a grenade which didn’t explode while the others opened fire. The policemen returned fire and managed to kill all three.

“The whole incident lasted for 10-12 minutes. Our men were wearing bullet-proof jackets, so they were saved,” Yadav told reporters. The police, he said, fired 63 rounds.

A lot of ammunition, including a 5.6 kg ready-to-use improvised explosive device (IED), a diary, 12 hand grenades, 3 AKM-47 rifles, nine magazines and some belt straps were recovered from the spot.

“The police had been expecting an attack on the RSS headquarters ever since last year. But on May 29, there was a specific threat perception report. We had given our men special training to foil such attacks,” Yadav said.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh to the Nagpur police for the successful operation.

Yadav rejected reports that there were more militants and some in police custody. He declined to divulge details about the identity of the militants or their organisation. “I can’t share anything about it with you at this stage,” he said, adding “no linkage has been established so far to the arms seizures in Aurangabad and Malegaon.”

Asked about VHP leader Pravin Togadia questioning the encounter, Yadav said, “I don’t feel like reacting to such allegations. My men have done this by putting their lives in danger.”

PM for calm, Advani says UPA soft on terror

• Prime Minister condemns attack, appeals for calm and communal peace

• Vajpayee says remain alert, Advani slams UPA for going “soft” on terror

• RSS chief Sudarshan: attempt part of series of attacks on establishments and religious places

• Modi announces Rs 10 lakh reward for Nagpur policemen, wants PM to convene meeting of CMs on fight against terror

See online : The Indian Express

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