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With bail in two cases and acquittal in one, Aseemanand set to walk out of jail soon

A file photo of Swami Aseemanand.

A file photo of Swami Aseemanand.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Aseemanand, acquitted recently in Ajmer dargah blast case on March 8, was granted bail in Mecca Masjid blast case on Thursday. He got bail in Samjhauta Express blast case in 2014.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist Aseemanand, accused of planning terror attacks, will walk a free man in a couple of days after a Hyderabad court granted him bail in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case on Thursday.

A senior National Investigation Agency (NIA) official said that it opposed the bail to Aseemanand in the special NIA court and would examine the bail order to see if it could be challenged in a higher court.

“We objected to his bail petition in court, however, court deemed it appropriate to grant him bail. We will take a call on challenging the bail when we get a certified copy of the order this week,” said a senior NIA official. The official said that Aseemanand moved the bail plea after he was acquitted in Ajmer Dargah blast earlier this month.

Nine persons were killed and 58 injured when an explosion occurred inside the Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad during Friday prayers on May 18, 2007. Seven persons including Aseemanand have been chargesheeted in the case by NIA. There are 304 witnesses in the case and 166 have been examined so far. An official said that 26 witnesses have turned hostile.

Soon after Aseeemanand got bail, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav tweeted that he was a free man now. “Swami Aseemanandji secured bail in Hyderabad case also. Of the three cases, he was acquitted in one, secured bail in two others. He is a free man now,” Mr. Madhav posted on Twitter.

Aseemanand was first arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Mecca Masjid case in 2010. BJP has often said that charges against Aseemanand and other right-wing leaders like Sadhvi Pragya were an outcome of the then UPA government's "political prejudice" as it coined 'Hindutva terror' and 'saffron terror' for vote bank politics.

Earlier this month, Aseemanand was acquitted of all terror charges in the Ajmer Dargah blast case of 2007 where three people were killed. NIA is yet to firm up its decision to challenge Aseemanand’s acquittal in this case. Two other RSS workers- Bhavesh Patel and Devendra Gupta were convicted.

He is facing trial in another case- the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast. A powerful explosion took place in two coaches of Samjhauta Express on February 19, 2007 where 68 people, mostly Pakistanis were killed when the train was on way to Lahore from Delhi. Aseemanand and five others have been chargesheeted by the NIA, he was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High court in August 2014, months after the NDA government came to power.

The NIA did not challenge the bail within the stipulated 90-day period in the Supreme Court but he continued to be in jail as he was wanted in two more cases.

An NIA official said that with Thursday’s bail order, he would soon walk free of Hyderabad prison, where he is currently lodged.

“The acquittal of Swami Aseemanand in Ajmer Dargah blast case will also impact the outcome in other two terror cases. He is only accused of conspiring the bomb blasts and not executing them. Since, he has been acquitted in Ajmer case where court did not take cognisance of a confessional statement given by him, the charges will not hold in Samjhauta and Mecca Masjid case as the investigating agency is also dependent on confessional statements here,” said Manbir Rathi, Aseemanand’s lawyer on phone from Panchkula.

From 2006-08, extreme right-wing groups were accused of explosions in at least six cases. Blasts were carried out by a group led by Swami Aseemanand, with an intention to give a befitting reply to the perceived persecution of Hindus by the Muslim “terrorists” and they propounded a ‘bomb ka badla (revenge) bomb’ theory.”

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 2:03:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/with-bail-in-mecca-masjid-blast-case-aseemanand-to-walk-out-of-jail-soon/article17612186.ece

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