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Aseemanand’s journey from ‘hero of Dangs’ to terror attacks accused

Nabh Kumar Sarkar, better known as Swami Aseemanand, was active as a key coordinator of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, an RSS affiliate, in Gujarat.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2018 07:38 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mecca masjid blast verdict,Swami Aseemanand,BJP
File photo of Mecca Masjid blast accused Swami Aseemanand who was acquitted by a special NIA court in Hyderabad on Monday. (PTI photo)

He was once described by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mouthpiece ‘Organiser’ as the ‘hero of Dangs’, the tribal belt of Gujarat where Nabh Kumar Sarkar, better known as Swami Aseemanand, was active as a key coordinator of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, an RSS affiliate.

Aseemanand was born on November 19, 1951 in Kamaarpukar village of Bengal’s Hooghly district. A post-graduate in science, he started working with the Ashram in 1977 first in Bengal and then the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In 1997, he settled in the Dangs to work among the tribals there.

But by 2010, Aseemanand became the target of a manhunt launched by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for his alleged involvement in the Mecca Masjid blast. Investigators alleged the Aseemanand had disappeared from his home after the probe began. He was arrested by the agency in November of same year.

After his arrest, Aseemanand made confessions before a magistrate in Delhi under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), laying out a purported conspiracy by alleged Hindu extremists.

First CBI, and later the National Investigation Agency (NIA), relied upon this statement of his, which is admissible as evidence unlike a statement given before a police officer, to chargesheet him in three cases – blasts in Samjhauta Express train (February, 2007), Mecca Masjid of Hyderabad (May, 2007) and Dargah Ajmer Sharif (October, 2007).

But a review of the Ajmer case judgment showed that the trial judge found several procedural loopholes in Aseemanand’s statement recorded before the magistrate.

The prosecution could not establish that Aseemanand was on the run after his name started figuring in investigations. These led to his acquittal. But the trial court convicted two of the other accused – Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel.

NIA officials say they have decided not challenge the Ajmer case verdict, giving finality to Aseemanad’s acquittal in the case.

He is still facing trial and is currently out on bail in the Samjhauta blast case which is also nearing completion.

First Published: Apr 17, 2018 07:01 IST