Swami Aseemanand, jailed in connection with alleged Hindutva terror plots including the Samjhauta Express attack of 2007, has threatened to launch legal action against a journalist of The Caravan for an article which said he named RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and key functionary Indreshji in relation to the case.
Since the controversy of his statements erupted, he has called the magazine article based on interviews ‘totally false and fabricated’.
The magazine has, in its defence, published extracts of four interviews it said it had conducted. A tape recording and transcript of parts of the conversation that mention Mohan Bhagwat were also released to the media by The Caravan.
In a hand-written letter, Aseemanand claimed that the journalist came to meet him in Ambala jail on January 9.
“I saw her several times as a reporter in the Panchkula court. But on January 9, she came as an advocate and wanted to help me. As I did not know her properly and I have my own counsel, I refused. Then she requested to discuss about the social works I did...”
Aseemanand also said: “I did not discuss any thing except my social works”. He had no recollection of the journalist meeting him in December 2011 at Ambala. On January 11, 2014, she again met him in Ambala Jail and wanted to discuss his case, he said, but did not encourage her.
The magazine has strongly defended the 11,200-word-long article, stating that the interviews were conducted over a period of two years and that it was based on revelations made by Aseemanand.
“In the course of over two years, Aseemanand granted four exclusive interviews to The Caravan journalist Leena Gita Reghunath inside Ambala jail, the total duration of which ran into 09 hours and 26 minutes. In the last two interviews, Aseemanand repeated that his terrorist acts were sanctioned by the highest levels of the RSS,” the magazine said.
“Knowing the national relevance of the sensitive information that Aseemanand revealed to The Caravan journalist, in an interview which was conducted with the full consent of Aseemanand, we place these facts in front of the public,” it added.