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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Ajmer blast: Two men who could have nailed Aseemanand not called in to testify

Lieutenant colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Sudhakar Dwivedi had named Swami Aseemanand as one of the conspirators of a larger ‘Hindu terror’ plot, court papers show.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2017 07:35 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Swami Aseemanand was acquitted in the 2007 Ajmer blast case after 26 witnesses turned hostile.
Swami Aseemanand was acquitted in the 2007 Ajmer blast case after 26 witnesses turned hostile.(HT file photo )

Two main accused in an another blast had named Swami Aseemanand as one of the conspirators of a larger “Hindu terror” plot but the NIA didn’t call them as witnesses in the Ajmer case in which the former RSS worker was let off last month.

Lieutenant colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, a serving army officer, and Sudhakar Dwivedi arrested and chargesheeted in the September 2008 Malegaon bomb case were the first to name Aseemanand, Ajmer blast case papers accessed by HT show.

Aseemanand and six others were acquitted in the 2007 blast by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, giving them benefit of doubt after 26 witnesses turned hostile.

Three persons were killed and 15 wounded in an explosion at the famous shrine of Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti in Rajasthan’s Ajmer on October 11, 2007.

As reported by HT on Wednesday, the court refused to accept Aseemanand’s confession due to procedural lapses. Aseemanand is also an accused in the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blasts.

The three blasts, within months of each other, came to be known as acts of Hindu terror -- a term that triggered a furious political debate --- because of the arrests of the members of the right-wing outfits.

Judge Dinesh Gupta acquitted seven people, including Aseemanand, and convicted two -- Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel - in the case.

Summing up the case against Aseemanand in his 579-page order, the judge said one of the investigation officers, Satyendra Ranawat, told the court that Aseemanand name cropped up during their questioning of Purohit and Dwivedi but none they were not called in as witnesses to share what they knew about him.

The prosecution said when Aseemanand’s name came up in the Malegaon probe, he ran away from his Shabridham residence in Gujarat and moved to Haridwar. He managed to get a ration card and enrolled as a voter under the name of Swami Omkaranand.

The prosecution argued that Aseemanand’s escape from Shabridham showed he was guilty. But the judge didn’t find merit in the argument as they were no witnesses or evidence to back the claim.

If the prosecution would have proved that Assemanand fled Shabridham, it could have been a strong circumstantial evidence against him. Another accused, Bhavesh Patel, was nailed on similar grounds.

Patel couldn’t be traced for more than two years and was only arrested in March 2013 and the judge accepted it as one of the evidences that went against him.

First Published: Apr 13, 2017 11:23 IST

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