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Caravan gets 'threat calls' over Aseemanand story

india Updated: Feb 07, 2014 16:14 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times

The Caravan magazine on Friday said it received threat calls from unidentified people for running an explosive cover story in which incarcerated terror accused Swami Aseemanand claimed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a prominent Hindu nationalist organisation, knew about his terror plans.

Both the RSS and lawyers claiming to represent Aseemanand have rejected the Caravan's 11,200-word-long story on alleged terror activities of a little-known right-wing outfit, Abhinav Bharat, of which Aseemanand was allegedly a linchpin. The incendiary story has created a political storm ahead of the 2014 general elections.

Read: Magazine stands by Aseemanand report on terror plots

The Caravan's executive editor, Vinod K Jose, tweeted in the morning about threat calls made to the magazine's offices in Mumbai and New Delhi. "There were calls made to our offices, asking us to be prepared and face consequences. 'We are coming,' the caller said. The first call was made around 10am in Mumbai," he told HT.

By afternoon, the magazine's offices in New Delhi and Mumbai faced protests. A senior editor said over 100 protesters gathered outside its offices in the national capital and staffers were facing disruptions. A police team also arrived at Caravan's Delhi offices following the incident. The police were making inquiries at the time of filing this report.

Read: Aseemanand claims RSS chief knew about 'Hindu terror conspiracy'

Jose said the journal would lodge an official criminal complaint. "We are trying to make sense of the situation and would not like to make any further comments," he added.

In an interview to the HT on Thursday, the Caravan magazine had defended its story. "We have over nine hours of taped interviews with Aseemanand as proof," Jose had said.

"This was neither a sting nor an entrapment. We conducted the interviews inside jail with the accused's full consent." Jose added the writer of the story had first met Aseemanand in court.

Read: 'No mention of Mohan Bhagwat in statement'

On micro-blogging site Twitter, some users have reacted abrasively to the story and the alleged threat calls. "You deserve this, propagandist," wrote @SardaarKhan.

In a signed press release after the magazine ran the story, the Caravan's editor and director Anant Nath and Jose had stated: "Knowing the national relevance of the sensitive information that Aseemanand revealed to The Caravan journalist in an interview which was conducted with the full consent of Aseemanand, we place these facts in front of the public, along with a tape recording and transcript of parts of the conversation that mention Mohan Bhagwat." Bhagwat is the RSS chief.

Read: Now, RSS accuses Cong of trying to malign Sangh family

Aseemanand, a Hindu monk, is accused of conspiring and carrying out explosions in 2007 on the Samjhauta Express, the Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif, a Sufi shrine, ostensibly to target Muslims.

The RSS, however, has defended Bhagwat, saying the magazine report was the Congress' ploy to malign the saffron organisation and the Bharatiya Janata Party, its political offshoot, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Timeline of terror
* Feb 19, 2007: 68 people died, 50 were injured when two bombs went off on the New Delhi-Wagah Samjhauta Express.

* Most of the dead were Pakistani citizens.

* Islamic terror groups suspected at first. Later, links to Hindu groups emerged.

* Dec 2010: NIA claims Swami Aseemanand was the mastermind.

* Jan 2011: Aseemanand says saffron outfits behind bombing.

* Later, retracts statement.

* RSS sends notice to CBI, says probe maligning organisation


No permission from court, so no evidence, says NIA

Audio clip shared by Caravan magazine in press release. Magazine conversation in the clip relates to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat:

Another Audio clip shared by Caravan magazine in press release.