NIA court acquits Swami Aseemanand, six others in Ajmer blast case while three were convicted. Those convicted are Sunil Joshi, whose name has figured in other cases, Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel. Of these, Joshi died much before the trial began in June 2014. He was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, on December 29, 2007. Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who was accused of his murder was acquitted along with seven others by a local court in the murder case of Sunil Joshi for lack of evidence. This year, NIA has acquitted all those saffron organization members arrested in various blasts. Tehelka magazine claimed that Aseemanand requested the magistrate to record his confession about his involvement in a string of terror attacks. He stated that he was making the confession without any fear, force, coercion or inducement. In accordance with the law, the magistrate asked Aseemanand to reflect over his decision and sent him to judicial custody for two days — away from any police interference or influence. “I know I can be sentenced to the death penalty but I still want to make the confession,” he said.
Reportedly, in the jail, he got acquainted with a Muslim boy called Kaleem who was being held for the same crimes, he had committed. Kaleem was very helpful to him, which aroused his conscience and inspired him to confess to the crimes. It is pretty surprising that Aseemanand has been acquitted though he had accepted his crime in his confessional statement. He was jailed in 2010 after admitting to his involvement in the terror attack on the train. He later said, he had been tortured and made to give a false statement. He has been named in five major terror attacks between 2006 and 2008 in different cities, many of them described controversially as “Hindutva terror” on account of the alleged involvement of right-wing extremists. The judgement is biased? Or he confessed his crime under pressure? Or he confessed crime due to lack of proofs to prove his guilt? Or simply it’s beginning of his #AchcheDin?
Swami Aseemanand has not been found guilty of any link to a bombing at the famous Ajmer Dargah. He was accused of masterminding the attack by the National Investigation Agency which handles terror cases. The charges against Aseemanand included murder and spreading communal hatred. Born Naba Sarkar, the 65-year-old maintained a stony silence as the special court in Jaipur. The court held three people guilty for the bombing which killed three people and injured at least 15 at the hugely-popular shrine for Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer.
According to the NIA, Aseemanand was the man who helped with funding and was the ideologue in the case. He also reportedly took part in meetings of extreme right wing groups who felt they must strike back with acts of terror in answer to a spate of attacks on shrines. Aseemanand is an accused in several other cases of bombing including at Malegaon in Maharashtra in 2006 in which nearly 40 people were killed, Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid in 2007 and the explosion in the same year on the Samjhauta Express in which nearly 70 passengers were killed on the train running between India and Pakistan.
Aseemanand created political swells when after his arrest in 2010, he confessed in court his role in the conspiracy, which involved not just the Dargah blast but also the bombing in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, the Samjhauta Express and Malegaon. A close associate of Sunil Joshi, Devendra Gupta, has been convicted. He was a zilla pracharak with the RSS in Jamtada in Jharkhand.
The third person held guilty is Bhavesh Patel. He has no recorded RSS links, but is known to be close to the key accused. Bhavesh Patel had planted the bombs at the dargah. Rajasthan’s anti-terrorist squad (ATS) arrested Devendra Gupta. During the course of his interrogation, Gupta mentioned that it was Aseemanand and Sunil Joshi who had brought him into their fold and persuaded him to carry out the attacks on Ajmer Sharif and Mecca Masjid. Rajasthan ATS was led to track Aseemanand and he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from an ashram in Haridwar in Uttarakhand for his involvement in the Ajmer Dargah blasts, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express blasts. He was charged on June 20, 2011 for planning the blast. He was conditionally granted Bail in 2015 in the blast case.
However, on 12 May 2011 Aseemanand claimed that his confessional statements were obtained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) “under pressure.” On June 2011, the NIA charged Swami Aseemanand in the Samjhauta Express train blast case, and the 2007 Ajmer dargah blasts case. Investigations initially circled around the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba, based in Pakistan and later focused on the involvement of Hindutva organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its groups behind the blast. The bomb had been concealed in a Tiffin carrier, which workers typically used to store their lunch. Though, the target was to kill maximum Muslims who came to Dargah for offering Namaz but blast killed three people and injured 17. Remnants of a mobile phone were retrieved from the site. The court will award the sentence on March 16, to the convicted accused.
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