Charge-sheet mentions him as the Ajmer blast mastermind
The arrest of Swami Asimanand by the Central Bureau of Investigation in Haridwar over the weekend for his alleged involvement in Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid blast is likely to give a boost to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Rajasthan Police in their probe into the Ajmer dargah blast of October 2007 in which three persons were killed.
The ATS charge-sheet filed in a court in Ajmer last month which mentioned senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Indresh Kumar as having addressed a secret meeting of the perpetrators of the crime has also named Asimanand, 59, as the dargah blast's mastermind, who allegedly formed a “terrorist group” to carry out blasts at various places of worship.
According to official sources here on Saturday, the ATS will formally seek Asimanand's custody for interrogation after the CBI is through with its questioning. The ATS had been searching for Asimanand ever since the accused in the dargah blast case revealed his identity as the key conspirator.
The Rajasthan ATS first learnt about Asimanand's alleged role while interrogating the Malegaon blast accused Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit and Swami Dayanand Pandey in Mumbai last year. All the captured accused had reportedly named Asimanand and Sunil Joshi, since murdered, as the main conspirators who mobilised manpower and resources for taking “revenge” against the bomb explosions at temples.
The ATS launched a massive search for the man who was impersonating as a seer after two accused – Harshad Bhai Solanki and Mukesh Vasani – arrested from Gujarat recently also revealed his identity as their leader. Asimanand is considered an ideologue of Abhinav Bharat, an outfit believed to be behind the 2008 Malegaon blasts in Maharashtra.
The charge-sheet states that Asimanand led and guided the strategy for the dargah blast as well as other terror attacks, while the responsibility for executing the Ajmer blast was entrusted to Sunil Joshi. It was Asimanand who purportedly suggested that Abhinav Bharat and Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur's Jai Vandeu Mataram join hands to achieve their “common objective”.
“From the investigation so far, including statements of witnesses and available documents, it is proved that Hindu fundamentalists under the leadership of Swami Asimanand, the Sanchalak of Shabri Mata Mandir, Ahava, district Dangs (Gujarat), formed a terrorist group to take revenge and retaliate against the bomb explosions carried out by Muslim terrorist organisations at various places…” says Paragraph 5.49 of the charge-sheet.
According to the ATS, Asimanand was on the run since the first arrest of Devendra Gupta was made in the dargah blast case on May 1 this year. Earlier, he is alleged to have presided over meetings of the “terrorist group” in Ujjain, Indore, Shabri Dham and Mihijam in Jharkhand since as early as May 2004 to rally support for his cause and hatch the “criminal conspiracy” for blasts at the Ajmer dargah and elsewhere.
Sunil Joshi, a key suspect in the Ajmer, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blast cases – who was murdered in Madhya Pradesh in December 2007 – is believed to have plotted the terror attacks under Asimanand's guidance. He even stayed in Asimanand's ‘ashram' (hermitage) in Dangs prior to the dargah blast and again took shelter there after the attack.
According to the ATS charge-sheet, all radicals such as Lt. Col. Purohit and Sadhvi Pragnya, who are both prime accused in the Malegaon blasts, and Sunil Joshi, Sandeep Dange, Ramji Kalsangra, Dayanand Pandey, Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma and Chandrashekhar Lave, who allegedly carried out blasts at Ajmer dargah and Mecca Masjid, were brought together by Asimanand.
The Rajasthan ATS expects to make the much-awaited headway in the dargah blast investigation with the arrest of Asimanand, especially in the wake of a political storm created over the reference made to Indresh Kumar in its charge-sheet.