New Delhi: Jailed RSS leader Swami Aseemanand has 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.
Aseemanand`s confession before a magistrate about the Malegaon, Samjhauta Express train, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid bombings has unravelled the "inner workings of the Hindutva terror network", according to a report published by weekly Tehelka magazine and a private TV news channel that claimed to have obtained his 42-page signed confessional statement.
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.
As per the reports, 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.
The reported confession has triggered a war of words between the Congress and the saffron parties including the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said the confession was shocking and demanded that the "terror links of the Hindu extremists need to be probed deeply".
The RSS accused the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that is probing the blasts of deliberately leaking the confession obtained under "duress". "This confirms that the interest of agencies is not to probe but malign the reputation of the organisations... Once again the CBI has proved that it is the Congress Bureau of Investigation," RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said.
The BJP accused the UPA of using the CBI as a tool to malign the image of the Sangh Parivar. "This is their agenda and they are using the CBI for that," BJP`s Prakash Javadekar said.
Aseemanand in his confession said 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 for the first time got in touch with Joshi and Pragya Singh Thakur in 2003. And finally it was the terror attack on the Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi 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 quizzed by the CBI.
More than 68 people were killed in the Samjhauta Express, a India-Pakistan peace train, bombing in 2007, seven people were killed in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, while three people were killed in the 2007 bombing at the Ajmer Dargah Sharif.