Swami Aseemanand, a key figure in the Hindutva terror network, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from Haridwar, Uttarakhand, in November last, has confessed to have strongly favoured tit-for-tat in cases of bomb blasts. He chose the Ajmer Sharif dargah as a target to deter Hindus from going there.
In his statement recorded before a magistrate in Delhi, he said: “I told everybody, bomb ka jawab bomb se dena chahiye ' [bombs should be answered with bombs]. I told everyone, since 80 per cent of Malegaons are Muslims, we should explode the bomb in Malegaon. Since Hindus throng the Ajmer Sharif dargah, we thought a bomb blast in Ajmer would deter Hindus from going there.”
The Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad was chosen because the Nizam of Hyderabad wanted to opt for Pakistan during the Partition. And Samjhauta Express was chosen because it was mostly used by Pakistanis, according to Tehelka news magazine, which has also uploaded the statement on its website.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader's statement is legally admissible evidence, crucial for the investigators probing the terror bombings targeting Muslims at religious and other places.
He also admitted to having planned terror attacks in Malegaon, on the Mecca Masjid and the Samjhauta Express.
In his confession, recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Dabas at the Tis Hazari Courts on December 18 last, the arrested RSS leader confessed that he and other Hindu activists were involved in bombings at Muslim religious places because they wanted to answer every Islamist terror act with a “bomb for bomb” policy.
Names key conspirators
His 42-page confession, recorded in Hindi, has been reported in Tehelka 's latest cover story, “In the Words of a Zealot.” He has named senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, the murdered RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and senior RSS pracharaks Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra, among others, as key conspirators in the terror blasts.
According to Swami Aseemanand, Mr. Kumar, who was recently questioned by the CBI, had financed several of the blasts, while Joshi and his team executed many of them. He said the terror conspiracy was hatched over several meetings at which he was present, with the Hindutva leaders. According to the Swami, the Islamist terror strikes on Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi and Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar triggered their conspiracy.
The magazine says that Aseemanand, of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat's Dang district, told the Metropolitan Magistrate that in a 2006 meeting with other Hindu radicals, including murdered RSS leader Sunil Joshi and Pragya Singh Thakur, it was he who propagated the policy of ‘bomb for bomb.' Joshi, alleged to be the key conspirator in the Ajmer dargah blast, was shot dead in Madhya Pradesh in 2007. He is suspected to have been killed by his own men to cover up the terror act, the Rajasthan Police has claimed.
The Swami, whose real name is Jatin Chatterjee, hails from Hooghly district in West Bengal and is a post-graduate in Botany. He started working full time from 1977 for Adivasi Kalyan Ashram of the RSS in Bankura, Purulia and Birbhum districts of West Bengal till 1981. He also worked from 1988 to 1993 at the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands before shifting to Chhattisgarh that year. In 1995, he was asked to go to the Dangs, which later became his permanent base.
Aseemanand also confessed to having motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out the terror strikes to target Muslims.
His confession is the first direct evidence of the involvement of Hindutva extremists in the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blasts even though there have been accusations of their involvement in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts.
Aseemanand admitted that they organised the terror acts as “the Muslim terrorists started attacking Hindu temples in 2002. This caused great concern and anger in me. I used to share my concerns about the growing menace of Islamic terrorism.”
He said he first got in touch with Joshi and Thakur in 2003. It was the terror attack on the Sankatmochan temple in March 2006 that became the real flashpoint for them.
“In March 2006, Pragya Thakur, Sunil Joshi, Bharat Riteshwar and I decided to give a befitting reply to the Sankatmochan blasts,” Aseemanand told the Magistrate. Aseemanand is known for having worked to reconvert people in tribal areas. He also ran the Shabari Dham Ashram and has a long list of followers, many of whom have been questioned by the CBI.
More than 68 people were killed in the Samjhauta Express bombing in 2007, seven were killed in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, while three were killed in the 2007 bombing at the Ajmer dargah.