Who is Swami Aseemanand?

April 16, 2018 01:56 pm | Updated 04:36 pm IST

A file photo of Swami Aseemanand.

A file photo of Swami Aseemanand.

An National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court on Monday acquitted Swami Aseemanand in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case . He was one of the 10 people accused of carrying out the IED explosion on the historic mosque that took the lives of nine people and injured over 50. The May 18, 2007 bomb blast was the first major incident executed by a Hindu right-wing in Hyderabad.

Swami Aseemanand, a self-proclaimed monk and a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist, was first arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Mecca Masjid case in 2010.

Aseemanand, whose real name is Naba Kumar Sarkar, hails from Hooghly district in West Bengal and is a post-graduate in Botany. He is also known by aliases Jiten Chatterjee and Omkarnath. He started working whole time for “Adivasi Kalyan Ashram” of RSS in Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia districts of West Bengal from 1977.

He 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.

Besides the Mecca Masjid blasts case, he was accused of being involved in the Ajmer, Malegaon and Samjhauta Express blast cases. An NIA special court, in March 2017, acquitted him in the 2007 Ajmer blast case.

During a confession before a metropolitan magistrate at the Tis Hazari courts in Delhi in 2010, Aseemanand 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.”

In the 42-page confession, recorded in Hindi, Aseemanand said he joined hands with several radical Hindu activists, including senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, slain Sangh pracharak Sunil Joshi, and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, to answer every Islamist terror act with “a bomb for bomb’’ policy. He further the trigger for their conspiracy was the terror strikes on Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi and Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar carried out by Islamist outfits.

In his confession, Aseemanand had said Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad was chosen because the Nizam of Hyderabad had wanted to opt for Pakistan during Partition. However, he later told an NIA court probing the 2007 Samjhauta train blast case that the elite investigation agency "tortured" and "put pressure on him to give wrong statements."

With acquittals in two cases, Aseemanand is facing trial only in the Samjhauta Express blast case. The case pertains to the powerful explosion that took place in two coaches of Samjhauta Express on February 19, 2007 killing 68 people, mostly Pakistanis who were on their way to Lahore from New Delhi. The Punjab and Haryana High Court granted bail to him in 2014.

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