Special Reports

India Frees Top Hindu Terror Suspects

Rudabah Simrah
New Delhi: Rights activists and Muslims in India are outraged as the country’s National Investigating Agency (NIA) has decided not to oppose the bail application of a Hindu terror suspect, who confessed being a member of a Hindu gang that targeted Muslims in several fatal bomb attacks.

Modi with Aseemanand

“This is going to help some people accused of serious terrorism-related crimes walk out of jail,” Muslim parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi told OnIslam.net

Member of right wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), former Hindu monk, Swami Aseemanand has confessed that his Hindu group, which is known as the mentor of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had sponsored the terror attacks.

In 2007, two terror bomb attacks on India-Pakistan friendship train Samjhauta Express and Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid killed 84 Muslims.

In a letter to Muslim parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi, India’s junior home minister Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said that after examining the case, NIA decided that there was no ground to challenge the bail granted by a state high court to Aseemanand, an accused in the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid cases.

NIA will also not oppose the bails granted to two co-accused of Aseemanand, RSS activists Devendra Gupta and Lokesh Sharma, Chaudhary added in his letter.

“This letter exposes the BJP’s hollow claims of zero tolerance to terrorism,” Owaisi told OnIslam.net.

“It is a deliberate attempt to help people from a particular ideological group escape conviction in serious crimes. '

“By deciding not to challenge these bail orders, the government shows that it is lenient to them,” he added.

History of Attacks

Between 2006 and 2008, more than half a dozen bomb attacks took place in which Muslim civilians were targeted by the terrorists in different parts of India.

In 2006, two simultaneous explosions killed at least 37 Muslims at a burial ground in the town of Malegaon in western Maharashtra state.

In February 2007, bomb attack on Samjhauta Express took lives of 68 Musl;ims from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Three months later, a bomb exploded during Friday prayer at Mecca Masjid killing 16 Muslims.

In October 2007, a hidden bomb exploded at a Muslim shrine in western city of Ajmer killing 3 people.

In September 2008, another blast in Malegaon in a Muslim neighborhood killed 8 Muslims.

Although mostly Muslims were targeted in these attacks, police picked up only Muslim men as terror suspects in all of the cases.

The Muslim terror suspects were forced to third-degree torture in many cases, several media reports said.

In the case of Mecca Masjid attacks almost all of the 22 suspects were physically tortured in gruesome ways, a fact finding team that visited them in jail, found.

But, when in November 2008, anti terror officials arrested nine Hindus, including one army Lieutenant Colonel and a Hindu nun, the Hindu terror network was exposed stunning the whole nation.

After the anti terror agencies charge-sheeted the Hindu activists for the terror attacks, dozens of Muslims suspects- who had been detained in jail as accused in the cases before-  came out of jail.

As investigators worked further, one or two dozen more Hindus were arrested as suspects for attacks on Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid, Malegaon, Ajmer shrine and a few other bombings.

Confessions: While arresting the Hindu suspects, the anti-terror agencies said that on the basis of their investigations they were dead sure that they had engineered the terror attacks on the Muslim targets.

Although all other suspects denied their involvement in the cases, Aseemanand confessed before a court that he had been involved in several attacks targeted at Muslims.

In 2011, Indian investigative magazine, Tehelka, revealed in a report how Aseemanand made his sensational confession revealing the Hindu terror plots and how his change of heart was triggered by a Muslim boy he met in jail who had been falsely implicated in the Mecca Masjid (mosque) blast.

In his confessional statement he said that he had suggested that idea of bombing Muslim targets to RSS and Indresh Kumar, a top functionary of RSS.

“(Kumar) said he had deputed (another RSS activist) Sunil Joshi for this job (terror attacks) and he would extend Joshi whatever help was required,” Aseemanand said in his statement. Kumar provided fund and also men to carry out the terror attacks, he said.

Aseemanand also confessed to his own role in the terror plots and how he had motivated a group of Hindu activists to carry out bomb attacks on Muslim targets. Aseemanand also wrote two letters to the Presidents of India and Pakistan from the jail, admitting his crimes and seeking his penance.

However, in an interesting turn of events, Aseemanand and almost all other detained terror suspects belonging to RSS and other right-wing Hindu groups are on their way out of jail.

There are scores of witnesses who in the past years testified before the court in support of the Hindu suspects’ involvements in the terror attacks making many believe that they will be convicted.

BJP in Power: Coming to the top chair in India, many say that India’s BJP-ruled government has been instrumental to get Hindu suspects rid of any taint or charge of terrorism and take them out of jail. 

“Right from day one the Modi-led government has had a clear agenda: to get off the hook all the terrorists and criminals related to the Hindutva groups,” Zafarul-Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, a New Delhi-based umbrella body of Indian Muslims organizations, told OnIslam.net.

“The decision not to appeal against the bail of Aseemanand- who filed two legal affidavits in front of judges accepting his guilt and that of his colleagues- is a proof of what we are saying.”

In Gujarat Riots, which took place in 2002, around 1,100 people, mostly Muslims, lost their lives.

Several right wing Hindu leaders were accused of leading Hindu rioters and they were convicted by courts for their crime.

Between 2002 and 2006 at least 22 encounter deaths took place in Gujarat. Rights activists have long alleged that most of them were fake encounters. According to India’s National Human Rights Commission, at least four of those encounters were staged or fake.

Khan said that the Narendra Modi-led government has also been in effort to get the convicted “criminals” of the Gujarat Riots and the police officers, who “engineered the fake encounters” in Gujarat, out of jail.

D G Vanzara, a former head of snit terrorism unit in Gujarat, who was in jail since 2007 on charges of leading a series of extra-judicial killings or fake encounters, came out on bail in February this year.

In 2012, former RSS activist Maya Kodnani, a minister in Gujarat, was handed out a jail sentence for 28 years after she was found guilty in her role of leading Hindu rioters and killing 97 Muslims, including 36 women and 35 children.

Last year Kodnani’s sentence was suspended by a higher court and since then she has been out of jail.

Pressures: After the home ministry noted that Aseemanand’s bail application would not be opposed by NIA, noted social activist Harsh Mander accused that the premier investigating agency was going soft on the terror suspects linked to BJP, RSS and other Hindutva outfits.

In a public interest litigation (PIL) filed to India’s Supreme Court last week Mr Mander alleged that  NIA had pressured an erstwhile special public prosecutor to go soft in the terror cases involving the Hindutva groups “presumably” under instructions from their “political masters”.

In June in an interview with Indian Express, special public prosecutor Rohini Salian, said that the “new Government in Power” had asked her to “go soft” in the cases of Malegaon blasts. Last week Indian media reported that Ashwini Sharma, a public prosecutor in the Ajmer blast case, was under similar pressure to desist from opposing Aseemanand’s bail application.

Mr Mander said to Mumbai Mirror newspaper that in terror case investigations security agencies have been found biased in favour of the Hindu accused.

“While there has always been some kind of bias, I’m worried about the brazenness that has been on display over the past year. It reflects in the workings of official agencies, probe agencies, prosecuting agencies, and sadly, some segments of the judiciary too are comfortable with it. This double standard I wish to challenge,” Mr Mander said after filing the PIL.

Online activist Mohammad Zim Nawaz said that he is not surprised at NIA’s decision not to oppose the bail of Aseemanand.

“We know that all the terror and riot accused who were linked to RSS and other Hindutva groups are in the process to walk out of jail. Even the convicts in the cases will get their jail sentences suspended- as it happened in the case of Maya Kodnani. In fact those who led the Hindu rioters in Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar and other communal pogroms and those who engineered the terror attacks on Muslim targets are running the country now,” Mr Nawaz said to OnIslam.

“Social media is awash with pictures of Mr Modi participating in religious functions at Aseemanand’s ashram. Now Mr Modi is the prime minister of the country. How can Aseemanand be made to rot in jail?” (onislam.net)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 september 2015 on page no. 13

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