A jailed leader of India's extremist Hindu organization "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS)" Jatin Chatterjee alias Swami Assemanand has confessed that he and several RSS activists have a direct role in several terror attacks on Muslims across India during the last three years.
His 42-page confession was recorded under Section 164 of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code before Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Dabas at Tees Hazari courts for his alleged involvement in the Ajmer, Hyderabad, Mecca Masjid, Melagaon, and Samjhota Express blasts.
Tellingly, during the last several years dozens of Muslim youth have been picked up, detained, tortured, charged for these blasts -- apparently with clearly no evidence, except for custodial confessions.
Why targets were chosen?
According to an independent Indian weekly, Tehelka, Swami Assemanand explained why these targets were chosen. He said, "Since Hindus throng to the Ajmer Sharif dargah, we thought a bomb blast in Ajmer would deter Hindus from going there."
In October 2007, two people were killed and 17 injured in a bomb blast near the scared shrine, which houses the tomb of a 13th-century Sufi saint. On October 11, 2007 the Indian Home Ministry claimed that the Ajmer shrine blast was the handiwork of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which was opposed to Sufi Islam, whose prime symbol was the Ajmer Sharif dargah.
About the bombing of Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad he said that it was chosen because the Nizam (Ruler) of Hyderabad had wanted to opt for Pakistan during Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. The attack on the Mecca Masjid mosque, which is in Hyderabad's old city, left 14 people dead in May 2007 -" with five apparently killed by police firing on a furious mob after the incident.
And Samjhauta Express was chosen because it was mostly used by Pakistanis. In February 2007, two firebombs exploded on the train commonly known as the 'Friendship Express' which travels across the Indo-Pakistani border. Most of the 68 victims and 50 injured were of Pakistani nationals. Three further unexploded suitcase bombs were later found on the train.
Swami Assemanand suggested that 80 percent of the people of Malegaon city were Muslims and we should explode the first bomb in Malegaon itself. In September 2008, three bomb blasts killed 37 people in the city of Malegaon, situated about 160 miles north-east of Maharashtra's state capital, Mumbai. Muslims had been attending prayers when the bombs exploded in a sacred burial ground, also injuring more than 125 people. Tellingly Lt. Colonel Prasad Srikant Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army, was arrested in November 2008 for allegedly procuring RDX explosives for Melagaon blast. According to Indian Express his bail plea was rejected by a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court in December 2010.
According to the British newspaper, Independent, police in India have suspected for some time that Hindus may have been responsible for the attacks carried out between 2006 and 2008, and in November of that year several arrests were made, including that of a serving military officer. But the confession of Swami Aseemanand, obtained by an Indian news magazine, is perhaps the most damning evidence yet that Hindu extremists were responsible. It also suggests those involved were senior members of a religious group that is the parent organization of India's main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The revelations in Tehelka magazine, bear added significance following the comments of Rahul Gandhi, widely expected to be a future prime minister, in which he said he believed the growth of Hindu extremists presented a greater threat to India than Muslim militants. According to a cable obtained by WikiLeaks, last year Mr Gandhi told the US ambassador to Delhi, Timothy Roemer: "Although there was evidence of some support for Laskar-e-Taiba among certain elements in India's indigenous Muslim community, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community."
Swami propagated the policy of "bomb for a bomb"
A leading Indian newspaper, The Hindu, pointed out that Swami Aseemanand's statement is legally admissible evidence that makes it crucial for the investigators probing the terror bombings targeting Muslims at religious and other places.
Swami Aseemanand told the metropolitan magistrate that in a 2006 meeting with other Hindu radicals, including murdered RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi and Thakur Pragya Singh, it was he who propagated the policy of "bomb for a bomb". Sunil Joshi, alleged to be the key conspirator in the Ajmer dargah blast, was shot dead in Madhya Pradesh in 2007. He is suspected to have been killed by his own men to cover up the terror act, Rajasthan Police has claimed.
Swami Aseemanand also confessed how he had motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out the terror strikes to target Muslims.
The Hindu pointed out that Swami Aseemanand's confession is the first direct evidence of the involvement of Hindutva extremists in the Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blast even though there have been accusations of their involvement in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts.