Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pakistan seeks report on Samjhauta blasts probe

Pakistan on Monday officially asked India for a progress report on investigations into the Samjhauta Express blasts, in which 42 Pakistanis were among those killed. The report was sought in the wake of news reports in the Indian media about jailed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader, Swami Aseemanand, admitting to his role in the 2007 blasts.
The Acting Deputy High Commissioner of India, G.V. Srinivas, was called to the Foreign Office by Director-General (South Asia) Afrasiab and told that a response from New Delhi should be conveyed at the earliest.
According to a statement put out by the Foreign Office, Pakistan drew the Indian diplomat's attention to reports on the investigations into the blasts. “It was reiterated to him that the government of Pakistan was awaiting the progress made by the government of India in the investigations.”
Of late, Pakistan has been using the investigations into the blasts to counter criticism of delay on Islamabad's front in the Mumbai terror attack case. Peeved at India making the dialogue process hostage to the Mumbai terror case, Pakistan has time again accused New Delhi of raising a hue and cry on terrorism, while ignoring its own responsibilities.

ATS to legally examine Aseemanand's confession

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is set to legally examine Swami Aseemanand's confessional statement with regard to the 2008 Malegaon blast case, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said in a press conference here on Friday.
Swami Aseemanand, a Hindutva leader, had admitted in his confession statement dated November 18, 2010, to have planned terror attacks on Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and the Samjhauta Express.
“His name figures in the charge-sheet of 2008 Malegaon blast, but he was not shown as wanted. We have asked for a certified copy of his confessional statement. We will then legally examine it,” Mr. Maria said.
He refused to comment on whether the investigating agency would ask for his custody, but said that they were in regular touch with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) about the matter.
“There is co-ordination between us and we will share the information,” he said.
The ATS team had recently gone to Haryana and talked to the investigating officers, he said.
After Swami Aseemanand's confession statement, the Central Bureau of Investigation has also decided to reinvestigate the 2006 Malegaon blast case.
The ATS chief said that there was no confirmation of the killing of alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Riyaz Bhatkal in Karachi.
“We are trying to confirm through our sources, but there is no confirmation as yet,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said that the ATS had arrested four persons here, two of whom are from Bangladesh, in a fake currency racket and had seized fake Indian currency worth Rs. 10,07,000.
He said that the accused had already visited Mumbai and Ahmedabad four times in the past few months and had pumped in around Rs. 20 lakh fake currency in both the cities.
“The fake currency is of a very high quality. We will speak to the Reserve Bank of India authorities to take their assistance,” Mr. Maria said.
This is the third such seizure by the ATS in the past few months. Previously, the ATS had seized fake currency twice worth Rs. Thirteen lakh fifty thousand and Rs. Ten lakh respectively. Bangladeshi operatives were involved in those handlings too.

BJP starts soft defence of RSS on Hindutva terror

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is set to legally examine Swami Aseemanand's confessional statement with regard to the 2008 Malegaon blast case, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said in a press conference here on Friday.
Swami Aseemanand, a Hindutva leader, had admitted in his confession statement dated November 18, 2010, to have planned terror attacks on Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and the Samjhauta Express.
“His name figures in the charge-sheet of 2008 Malegaon blast, but he was not shown as wanted. We have asked for a certified copy of his confessional statement. We will then legally examine it,” Mr. Maria said.
He refused to comment on whether the investigating agency would ask for his custody, but said that they were in regular touch with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) about the matter.
“There is co-ordination between us and we will share the information,” he said.
The ATS team had recently gone to Haryana and talked to the investigating officers, he said.
After Swami Aseemanand's confession statement, the Central Bureau of Investigation has also decided to reinvestigate the 2006 Malegaon blast case.
The ATS chief said that there was no confirmation of the killing of alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Riyaz Bhatkal in Karachi.
“We are trying to confirm through our sources, but there is no confirmation as yet,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said that the ATS had arrested four persons here, two of whom are from Bangladesh, in a fake currency racket and had seized fake Indian currency worth Rs. 10,07,000.
He said that the accused had already visited Mumbai and Ahmedabad four times in the past few months and had pumped in around Rs. 20 lakh fake currency in both the cities.
“The fake currency is of a very high quality. We will speak to the Reserve Bank of India authorities to take their assistance,” Mr. Maria said.
This is the third such seizure by the ATS in the past few months. Previously, the ATS had seized fake currency twice worth Rs. Thirteen lakh fifty thousand and Rs. Ten lakh respectively. Bangladeshi operatives were involved in those handlings too.

RSS outfit comes to Indresh Kumar's defence

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) outfit, Rashtriya Muslim Manch (RMM), mentored by RSS central committee member Indresh Kumar who figures in the charge-sheet related to the Ajmer Sharief dargah terror blast of 2007, has come out, expectedly, in his defence.
TERRORIST INDRESH KUMAR

Some members of the RMM, an organisation working in Jammu and Kashmir over the last eight years, held a press conference here on Wednesday to say “Mr. Indresh Kumar is a committed nationalist” who has been “working ceaselessly for the uplift of Muslims” and “bringing Hindus and Muslims together”.

ASEEMANAND'S CONFESSION

Sources in the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party indicated that the support has come at this juncture for it was felt that after the arrest of Aseemanand, a ‘swami' working in the tribal Dangs area of Gujarat, Mr. Kumar's interrogation and arrest were imminent. His name already figures in the October 2010 charge-sheet.
The charge-sheet of the Rajasthan police Anti-Terrorism Squad said Mr. Kumar attended a secret meeting in Jaipur's Gujarati guest house in 2005 under a false name. This meeting, among others, was where the terrorist conspiracy was hatched.
After Swami Aseemanand's arrest and confession to a judicial magistrate, the view in some sections of the BJP was that Mr. Kumar could be taken in by the police any time.

CONNECTED TO MINORITY MORCHA

Those on the podium at Wednesday's press conference — all self-proclaimed members of the RMM — were also all closely connected to the BJP's Minority Morcha. In fact, Tanweer Ahmed, who currently heads the Morcha, was apparently given this position on the recommendation of Mr. Kumar, BJP sources indicated. Other members of the RMM who were present at Wednesday's ‘Support Indresh Kumar' press conference included Dr. Bilkis Bano, who has also been active in the Minority Morcha of the BJP.

Swami Aseemanand's confession reveals Hindutva terror activities

Swami Aseemanand, a key figure in the Hindutva terror network, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from Haridwar in November, has admitted to having planned terror attacks on Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and the Samjhauta Express.
In his confession, recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Dabas at Tis Hazari courts on December 18, the arrested Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader confessed that he and other Hindu activists were involved in bombings at Muslim religious places because they wanted to answer every Islamist terror act with “a bomb for bomb’’ policy.

His 42-page confession, recorded in Hindi, has been reported in Tehelka news magazine’s latest cover story “In the Words of a Zealot.’’ He has named senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, the murdered RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and senior RSS pracharaks Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra, among others, as being key conspirators in the terror blast.
According to him, Indresh Kumar, who was recently questioned by the CBI, had financed several of the blasts, while Sunil Joshi and his team executed many of them. He said the terror conspiracy was hatched over several meetings at which he was present along with these Hindutva leaders. According to him, the trigger for their conspiracy was the Islamist terror strikes on Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi and Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar.
He said in his statement, “I told everybody that bomb ka jawab bomb se dena chahiye (we should reply to bomb blasts with bombs) I told everyone since 80 per cent of Malegaon are Muslims, we should explode the bomb in Malegaon.’’ He also said, “Since Hindus throng to the Ajmer Sharif dargah, we thought a bomb blast in Ajmer would deter Hindus from going there.’’
Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad was chosen because the Nizam of Hyderabad had wanted to opt for Pakistan during Partition. And Samjhauta Express was chosen because it was mostly used by Pakistanis, according to Tehelka magazine which has also uploaded the statement on its website. The statement made is legally admissible evidence that makes it crucial for the investigators probing the terror bombings targeting Muslims at religious and other places.
The magazine says that Swami Aseemanand, of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat's Dangs district, told the metropolitan magistrate that in a 2006 meeting with other Hindu radicals, including murdered RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi and Thakur Pragya Singh, it was he who propagated the policy of “bomb for a bomb”. Sunil Joshi, alleged to be the key conspirator in 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, Rajasthan Police has claimed.
The Swami, whose real name is Jatin Chatterjee, hails from Hooghly district in West Bengal and is a post-graduate in Botany. He started working whole time for “Adivasi Kalyan Ashram” of RSS in Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia districts of West Bengal from 1977.
Swami Aseemanand also confessed how he had motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out the terror strikes to target Muslims.
TERRORIST ASEEMANAND

Swami 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 have been accusations of their involvement in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts.
Swami 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 questioned by the CBI.
More than 68 people were killed in the Samjhauta Express 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.

Malegaon blast case: Court rejects bail pleas of three accused

A special court on Thursday rejected the bail pleas of three accused including Lt. Col Prasad Purohit, arrested in the September 2008 Malegaon blast case after accepting the prosecution’s argument that if released on bail the accused would indulge in unlawful activities.
Purohit and two other accused — Rakesh Dhawde and Ajay Rahirkar — had sought for bail stating that they have been falsely implicated and that since the chargesheet has been filed in the case their custody was not required further.
TERRORIST PROHITH

The trio and seven others including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur have been accused by state Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) for allegedly carrying out blasts at Malegaon on September 29, 2008 that left six dead and several others injured.
The prosecution had opposed the bail pleas stating that the accused floated a group Abhinav Bharat and indulged in criminal conspiracy and their main object was to threaten the unity and integrity of the nation.
TERRORIST PRAGIYA SINGH

“The accused wanted to overpower the Indian government and create a Hindu Rashtra for which they had indulged in terror activities. If they are released on bail they would continue such unlawful acts,” special public prosecutor Rohini Salian argued. The accused had conspired to do away with certain members of RSS as they were against the accused’s ideology.
“According to the accused, the so called Hindu political parties have betrayed the cause of Hindutva by using it as a political tool,” Mr. Salian said.
All the eleven accused have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Arms Act, Explosives Act and Explosive Substances Act.
The court is expected to hear Sadhvi’s bail plea on January 10. Sadhvi had sought to be released on bail on medical grounds.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Samjhauta blast: Aseemanand remanded in judicial custody

Swami Aseemanand, the main accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast, was on Thursday remanded to 14 days judicial custody by a court here. The Samjhauta blast in Haryana's Panipat district had left 68 people dead in February 2007.


The counsel for the right-wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat member said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the court that it do not require further custody of the accused as it has completed its investigation.

However, the NIA moved an application before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) for recording Aseemanand’s statement.

The NIA had last month brought Aseemanand, who is also an accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast, from Hyderabad and produced him in a court here on December 23 which first remanded him in one-day custody of NIA as the judge of the designated court was on leave that day.


After expiry of his one-day custody on December 24, he was produced in the\ court of NIA Special Judge Ritu Garg who had further remanded him in NIA’s custody till today.

The hearing in the case took place in-camera in the court as the NIA had earlier moved an application in this regard keeping in view the “sensitivity” of the case.

The NIA, which had recently sought production warrant of Aseemanand from a court here, had sought further remand of the Swami to extensively question him over his role in the train blast in Haryana’s Panipat district that left 68 people dead.


Aseemanand was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on November 19 for his alleged involvement in the Mecca Masjid blast that left nine people dead.

He was earlier living under a fake identity in Haridwar and had also procured fake identity cards.

A post-graduate in Botany, Aseemanand, whose real name is Jatin Chatterjee, hails from Hooghly district of West Bengal. He settled in the tribal-dominated Dangs area of south Gujarat in late 1990s.

His name had also come up during the probe in the Malegaon blast of 2008 when Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad recovered the number of the Swami’s driver from Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, another Abhinav Bharat member and an accused in the Malegaon blast case.