‘Aseemanand confessed under pressure’
Aseemanand`s lawyer says that his client’s confessional statement was made under `pressure’.
Panchkula: In a significant turn of event, the lawyer of Swami Aseemanand, who had earlier confessed to his role in several blasts, claimed that his client’s confessional statement that was recorded before the metropolitan magistrate of Tis Hazari court in Delhi on December 18, 2010, was made under ‘extreme pressure’.
As per reports published on Monday, Manvir Rathi, who represents Aseemanand in the Samjhauta blasts case, claims that on January 3, when his client was produced before special NIA court in Panchkula, he told him that his statement which was recorded by the CBI in a Delhi court was not voluntary.
The development has brought a major twist in the Samjhauta blasts case after it was earlier reported that Swami Aseemanand confessed that he and several right-wing activists among others were involved in bombings at Muslim religious places since they wanted to answer every Islamist terror act with "a bomb for bomb" policy.
In his confessional statement, Aseemanand also claimed that there was no pressure on him and that he was not tortured or forced by anyone to confess to his role in several blasts cases.
When Rathi was asked why Aseemanand failed to inform NIA court that his statement in Delhi court was obtained under pressure, the lawyer reportedly said, ``As defence counsel, it was my duty to counter only those allegations which NIA will raise during court hearing or produce something in written before court. Until now, NIA has not produced any such statement by Aseemanand before the court.``
Rathi was quoted as saying that he went on to clear the doubts on Aseemanand’s confession after media projected him as a conspirator of the blast cases.
The twists in the story comes days after a weekly news magazine Tehelka and a private TV news channel published parts of Aseemanand`s confession before a magistrate about the Malegaon, Samjhauta Express train, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid bombings, which unravelled the "inner workings of the Hindutva terror network".
The channel and the magazine also claimed to have got access to Aseemanand`s 42-page signed confessional statement about the role he and several right-wing members played in various blasts targeting Muslims and their religious places.
The December 18 statement made under Clause 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is a legally admissible evidence that makes it crucial for the investigators probing the terror bombings targeting Muslims at religious and other places.
In his confessional statement, Aseemanand, who heads the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat`s Dangs district, told the magistrate that in a 2006 meeting with other Hindu radicals, including murdered RSS leader Sunil Joshi and Thakur Pragya Singh, it was he who propagated the policy of “bomb for a bomb.”
"I told everybody that we should answer bombs with bombs," said Aseemanand, in the statement made in Hindi. The swami, whose real name is Jatin Chatterjee, hails from Hooghly district in West Bengal and is a post-graduate in Botany.
"I suggested that 80% of the people of Malegaon were Muslims and we should explode the first bomb in Malegaon itself."
He said that he suggested Hyderabad, Ajmer Sharif shrine and the Aligarh Muslim University as other potential terror targets. Joshi, Aseemanand said, suggested an attack on the Samjhauta train as it was basically Pakistanis who travel on it and "therefore, we should attack the train as well".
Joshi, alleged to be the key conspirator of 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, according to Rajasthan Police.
Aseemanand said that it was not just a rump Hindu radical group that engineered the blasts but RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar was also involved in carrying out the terror plots.
"Indreshji met me at Shabri Dham (Aseemanand`s ashram in Gujarat) sometime in 2005. He was accompanied by many top RSS functionaries. He had deputed Sunil Joshi for this job (terror attacks)."
“He told me that making a bomb is not my job. I have been instructed by the RSS to work with the tribals. He said Sunil Joshi had been given the task of bombs. He said whatever help Sunil needs, we will provide," Aseemanand was quoted as telling to the CBI in the report published by Tehelka.
"I had also got to know that Sunil Joshi and Bharatbhai had met Indreshji in Nagpur and Indreshji had given a sum of Rs 50,000 to Sunil in Bharatbhai`s presence. Col Purohit had once told me that Indreshji was an ISI agent and that he had all documents to prove his point. But he never showed me those documents," he said.
Aseemanand, arrested last year, also confessed how he had motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out the terror strikes to target Muslims.
Aseemanand`s confession is the first direct evidence of the involvement of Hindutva extremists in the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blast even though there were accusations of their involvement in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts.