The National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court here on Wednesday acquitted self-proclaimed monk and former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist Swami Aseemanand and six others, while convicting three persons in the sensational Ajmer dargah blast case.
The explosion in the 13th century dargah of Sufi mystic Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti on October 11, 2007, during Ramzan, had left three persons dead and 17 injured. The dargah was packed with about 5,000 devotees when the blast occurred at the time of ‘iftaar’ (breaking of fast).
Those found guilty were Bhavesh Patel, Devendra Gupta and Sunil Joshi.
Three accused at large
There were a total of 13 accused in the case, three of whom are absconding, while former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi was murdered in December 2007.
The court imposed a fine of ₹1 lakh each on Patel and Gupta. The sentences of the convicts will be pronounced on March 16.
Swami Aseemanand and Sunil Joshi were also accused of being involved in the Malegaon and Samjhauta Express blast cases.
In his judgment running into 500 pages, special judge Dinesh Gupta said there was insufficient evidence against the accused who were let off.
The court analysed the testimony of 149 witnesses and the contents of 451 documents submitted to it, while about a dozen witnesses turned hostile in cross-examination during the trial.
The Ajmer dargah blast was the first instance in which the investigating agencies had found involvement of right-wing Hindutva organisations, including Abhinav Bharat, which were later suspected to be linked to several other blast cases.
Aseemanand’s confession before a metropolitan magistrate at the Tis Hazari courts in Delhi had made headlines in December 2010.
He had stated that he and other activists were involved in bombings at various places of worship across the country, such as Ajmer Sharif and Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, and in Malegaon and on Samjhauta Express for taking revenge against the “terror acts of Muslims.”
Investigation into the case was transferred in 2011 from the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) to the NIA, which filed three supplementary charge sheets in the court. The case was fast-tracked after the change of government at the Centre in 2014.
In one of the charge-sheets, the name of RSS leader Indresh Kumar appeared as a suspect, though he was not formally named an accused.
The charge sheet claimed that Mr. Kumar had addressed a secret meeting of activists in Jaipur’s Gujarati Samaj guest house and asked them to work by associating themselves with some religious groups so as to avoid suspicion.
Besides Bhavesh Patel, Devendra Gupta and Sunil Joshi, other accused in the case were Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Chandrashekhar Leve, Harshad Solanki, Mehul Kumar, Mukesh Vasani and Bharat Bhai. While eight were in judicial custody, Chandrashe- khar Leve was on bail.