On 13 December, Yashwant Shinde, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member, argued before a trial court in Nanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation created “confusion” in their investigation into the 2006 Nanded blasts by ignoring the real mastermind and claiming that an unidentified “prof Dev,” who they could not trace, was the main conspirator. If Shinde’s allegations are true, this takes attention away from senior members of the Sangh whose names also came up in the investigation. Shinde, who has filed an affidavit with the court requesting to be added as a witness to the trial, claimed that Milind Parande, the VHP’s current secretary general, was the “main conspirator” of the blasts. In his latest submission, he claimed that “prof Dev” might be a Pune based teacher with whom the CBI deliberately tried to conflate the identity of Ravi Dev, who also went by the alias Mithun Chakraborty. Shinde claimed that Ravi Dev, and not “prof Dev,” was the man who trained him—along with some accused in the Nanded blast case—in making bombs.
The CBI was forced to share a few key documents with Shinde after he sought their access from the court to argue his case. One of the documents is a closure report filed by the CBI on 31 December 2020. The closure report—a copy of which is with The Caravan—reveals several lapses in the CBI’s investigation of the case. These include the CBI apparently taking on face value the denials of suspects named by a key accused in the case, a seeming failure to interrogate senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders whose names frequently showed up during the course of the investigation, and what appears to be a wilful overlooking of evidence gathered by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, which previously investigated the case.
At the center of the closure report is the CBI’s focus on identifying a person named “prof Dev,” who they claim made “available the finances and explosions for the training” that led to at least four blasts in the Marathwada region between 2003 and 2006. This is despite prof Dev’s name only showing up once in the course of their investigation—during the interrogation of Rakesh Dhawade, the key accused in all four blasts. Dhawade had also named Sharad Kunte, a senior member of the VHP, as having guided him to meet “prof Dev,” but the CBI has curiously decided to not investigate Kunte after he gave a simple denial. Even this focus seems to have brought the agency little in the way of results. In his affidavit, Shinde argued that “it appears that the CBI did not do efforts meticulously and honestly to identify Prof. Dev with the result it could not find out even the first name or initials of Prof. Dev and his location.”