Jaipur: Swami Aseemanand has been found not guilty of any link to a bombing at the famous Ajmer Dargah near Jaipur in 2007. He was accused of masterminding the attack by the National Investigation Agency which handles terror cases. The charges against Aseemanand included murder and spreading communal hatred.
Born Naba Sarkar, the 65-year-old maintained a stony silence as the special court in Jaipur acquitted him and seven others today. But the court held three people guilty for the bombing which killed three people and injured at least 15 at the hugely-popular shrine for Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer.
According to the NIA, Aseemanand was the man who helped with funding and was the ideologue in the case. He also reportedly took part in meetings of extreme right wing groups who felt they must strike back with acts of terror in answer to a spate of attacks on shrines.
Aseemanand is an accused in several other cases of bombing including at Malegaon in Maharashtra in 2006 in which nearly 40 people were killed, Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid in 2007 and the explosion in the same year on the Samjhauta Express in which nearly 70 passengers were killed on the train running between India and Pakistan.
He was jailed in 2010 after allegedly admitting to his involvement in the terror attack on the train. He later said he had been tortured and made to give a false statement. He has been named in five major terror attacks between 2006 and 2008 in different cities, many of them described controversially as "Hindutva terror" on account of the alleged involvement of right-wing extremists.
The blasts in Ajmer Dargah 10 years ago have definite links to the saffron fold. Sunil Joshi, believed to be the key executor and conspirator of the dargah blasts, was a Zila Pracharak of the RSS in Madhya Pradesh. Two months after the blast at the Ajmer dargah, he died in mysterious circumstances.
A close associate of Sunil Joshi, Devendra Gupta, has been convicted. He was a zila pracharak with the RSS in Jamtada in Jharkhand. The third person held guilty is Bhavesh Patel. He has no recorded RSS links, but is known to be close to the key accused. Bhavesh Patel had planted the bombs at the dargah.
Aseemand created political ripples when after his arrest in 2010, he confessed in court his role in the conspiracy, which involved not just the Dargah blast but also the bombing in Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid, the Samjhauta Express and Malegaon. He later retracted, but not before creating a huge political controversy.
The court will hand out the sentence on March 16.