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Who is Swami Aseemanand?

Thursday, 28 August 2014 - 7:15pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case, was on Thursday granted bail by Punjab and Haryana High Court. However, he is unlikely to come out of jail as he is facing trial in two other blast cases.  

Aseemanand, whose real name is Jitendranath Chatterjee, was born in Kamarpukur, located in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. From the very beginning, he was attracted to the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, and later Eknath Ranade's hardline interpretation of Vivekananda. Slowly, he got more inclined to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and joined the organisation’s tribal wing Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA). He worked for several years in the Andaman and Nicobar and other tribal areas trying to spread Hinduism. In honour of Aseemanand’s service to the Sangh, in December 2005, he was awarded a special Guruji Samman on the occasion of the birth centenary of MS Golwalkar. 

His name first cropped up in connection with “Hindu terror” when Devendra Gupta, arrested in connection with the Ajmer Dargah​ blast, said that Aseemanand was one of the key conspirators behind the slew of blasts. Aseemanand was finally arrested by the CBI in November 2010 for his alleged role in the Ajmer, Hyderabad and the Samjhauta Express blast case. In total, his name has cropped up in the blast cases of the Samjhauta Express (February 2007), Hyderabad Mecca Masjid (May 2007), Ajmer Dargah (October 2007) and two attacks in Malegaon (September 2006 and September 2008)—which together took the lives of 119 people.

Newspaper reports suggested that shortly after being nabbed by the CBI, Aseemanand gave a detailed confession to a magistrate confessing to his crime and how he and other Hindutva leaders carried out a series of blasts. However, within five months, on May 2011, Aseemanand said that his testimonial was coerced by the NIA under pressure. 

Aseemanand again hit headlines in February this year when an article by The Caravan suggested that the entire brass of the RSS, including current Sarasanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat, gave tacit approval to his terror plots. He later denied such allegations though the news magazine published audio transcripts of the interview. 

The NIA has till now not given credence to the theory that top leaders of the RSS were in any way involved in the bomb blasts. But rumours and speculation continue to float about the exact nature of support that the likes of Aseemanand or Sadhvi Pragya received from different Hindu organisations.

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