Interview/ Sharad Kumar, NIA director-general
Was your recent US visit meant to gather evidence against the alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba financier Arif Qasmani, charged by US authorities of funding the Samjhauta Express blasts?
We had sent an MLAT [Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty] request to the US and I had gone particularly to pursue all the pending MLATs and letters rogatory. This was one of the issues.
Don’t you think Qasmani’s alleged role in the blasts, as documented by US authorities, should have been studied by Indian agencies long ago?
Yes, it should have been. We had earlier approached Interpol, but got no reply. Neither the MHA [ministry of home affairs] nor the MEA [ministry of external affairs] pursued the matter with the US.
Is the Samjhauta case watertight?
There are some hostile witnesses—17-18 of them. But we are trying to cover them up in cross-examination. Not everything the witness says is hostile. So, by declaring some [witnesses] as ‘part hostile’, we can proceed. Whatever a witness says against us, we can neutralise it by getting other witnesses.
You recently gave a clean chit to Lt Col Prasad Srikant Purohit in the Samjhauta Express case. Did the ATS not share any information linking Purohit to the blasts?
I only said Lt Col Purohit is not involved in the Samjhauta case. And that is a fact. I am not giving anyone a clean chit. My statements are being misinterpreted.
Is it true that no agency gave information to the NIA on whether it was Purohit who planted RDX in Samjhauta Express?
No agency gave the NIA any information linking Purohit to Samjhauta blasts.
Was RDX used in the blasts?
Both RDX and ammonium nitrate were used.
Does your investigation show who planted RDX?
No, it does not.
Won’t that leave a loophole in the case?
We can’t probe each and every thing. We are trying to do the maximum we can. These cases were given to us three to four years after the incident had occurred. That is a lot of time.
The home ministry has asked the NIA’s response regarding Purohit’s letter to the national security adviser.
We have been getting written representations from Purohit, but there are no specific facts mentioned in it. He has given no specific defence. So we have replied to all these letters saying investigation is under way and whatever he has claimed is being probed.
Do you think the NIA has enough evidence to establish Purohit’s role in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case?
The investigation is still going on and the officers are writing their comments. Once the file reaches me, let me evaluate the evidence against each of the accused. Only then can I take a call on whether Lt Col Purohit is involved. It will take a month or so.
Radical Hindu outfits like Abhinav Bharat have been under the scanner for their alleged involvement in terror cases. Has the NIA sought a ban on any of these organisations?
Abhinav Bharat has been named only in one case. We have never gone into the aspect of banning it. We have not explored the issue from that point of view. Also, there have been no activities of the outfit in the past.
I can say there have been no continuing activities that have come to our notice since 2008.
How big is the threat of Hindu extremism in the country?
I don’t see any threat. There are no [Hindu extremist] activities, so there is no question of any threat.