Three blasts in 2007 put saffron groups firmly on the terror map: the Samjhauta Express blasts in February which 68 people died, Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid blast in May, which killed 14 and the blast in Ajmer’s dargah sharif in October, which killed three.
Initially, the Ajmer blast was suspected to be the handiwork of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba. But a semi-destroyed cellphone sim card found at the site by the NIA and Anti Terror Squad revealed links to the Hindu group Abhinav Bharat. Till then a shadowy outfit headed by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, it was later found to be behind both Samjhauta and Mecca Masjid blasts.
The first of the 14 arrests in the Ajmer blast case were made in May 2010. Subsequent arrests revealed more names — RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, his close aide Indresh Kumar and BJP parliamentarian Aditya Nath Jogi.
But the NIA’s version now faces serious challenge.
Bhavesh Patel, arrested in March this year, has accused Congress leaders Sushil Kumar Shinde, Digvijaya Singh, RPN Singh and Sriprakash Jaiswal of forcing him to name Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar as co-conspirators. Another accused — Bharatbhai Rateshwar from Gujarat’s Valsad — who allegedly funded the blast, had accused Aditya Nath Jogi of funding and planning terror attacks on Muslim establishments.
He, however, backtracked from the statement, claiming in court that it was extracted by force.
The NIA filed three chargesheets in the case — the last one on September 24, 2013, in which seven persons were accused of murder, including key accused Aseemanand, who allegedly directed the entire operation.