Hindutva convicts granted, Kashmiri denied bail

Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case, has been given bail in the case. He furnished a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh and two surety bonds of same amount in a National Investigating Agency (NIA) court, which was accepted by the court on 16 September, 2016. Aseemanand’s bail orders were earlier issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. However, he will remain in Ambala Central Jail in connection with the Ajmer blast case.

Aseemanand had earlier on two occasions confessed, in front of a magistrate, of his role in terror cases. His detailed confessions were also published in Caravan magazine in February 2014.

Aseemanand, a mentor of the right-wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat, is also named as an accused in the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Dargah blast cases of 2007.

On 26 December, 2010, Aseemanand was arrested by CBI from his hideout in Haridwar for his role in the Mecca Masjid blast in which 14 persons were killed.

In another case, Pravin Takkalki, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast, got bail from an special NIA court after spending five and a half years in jail. He had earlier confessed his involvement in the Malegaon blast but NIA chargesheet said that there is insufficient evidence against him.

Takkalki was arrested in 2011 on charges of impersonation. He used the name of “Pradeep Patil” to stay in a hotel. During the investigation, he had confessed that he had been sent by members of Sri Ram Sene to meet Lt Col Srikant Purohit, co-accused in the case.

The NIA filed a supplementary chargesheet this year and told the court that they did not have any evidence against accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and others, including Takkalki. NIA also asked for lifting of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), which had earlier been applied in the case when the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism squad (ATS) was investigating it.

Takkalki is the fifth person in the case to be granted bail so far. The same court had earlier rejected Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s bail application and is currently hearing Purohit’s bail application. Sadhvi has now filed an application for bail in the Bombay High Court.

No Muslim in such cases has ever been granted bail. Even the bail applications of an 85-year-old Muslim (Dr Habib Ahmad Khan) have been repeatedly rejected and he is languishing in Jaipur jail despite the fact that he is accused of only acting as a conduit for passing a few thousand rupees to an alleged terrorist.

In another such case, the Supreme Court declined the plea to reconsider life imprisonment of Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Qasim, a Kashmiri separatist scholar and thinker who is the Kashmir Valley’s longest-serving prisoner and has already spent nearly 23 years in Srinagar central jail in connection with the murder of a Kashmiri Pandit. Kashmir’s high court had given Faktoo life sentence in 2003 according to Code (Ranbir Code). According to the Kashmir law, life imprisonment means only 14 years of jail. Referring to Supreme Court judgments and a new interpretation, Kashmir high court in 2012 extended Faktoo’s life-term until death.

Faktoo completed his PhD in Islamic studies from Kashmir University while in detention. More than 125 prisoners have completed their bachelors’ preparatory programme, graduation and post-graduation under his guidance.

Hasan Rizvi

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2016 on page no. 11

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