Kamarpukar, Hooghly district, West Bengal, India
|Other names||Jiten Chatterjee, Omkarnath|
|Parent(s)||Bibhutibhushan Sarkar (Father), Pramila Sarkar (Mother)|
Swami Aseemanand is a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist from India who is accused of planning terror attacks on Ajmer Sharif and Mecca Masjid as well as the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Aseemanand on 19 November 2010 for his involvement in the Mecca Masjid bombing. On 24 December 2010, he was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Aseemanand confessed to the acts before the Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Dabas at Tis Hazari courts on 18 December 2010. He stated that he and other Hindu activists were involved in bombings at various Muslim religious places as they wanted to answer every Islamist terrorist act with “a bomb for bomb’’ policy. His confession, recorded in Hindi, has been reported in Tehelka news magazine issue dated 15 January 2011, “In the Words of a Zealot.’’ However, in late March 2011, Aseemanand stated that he had been pressurised by the investigating agencies to confess that he was behind these blasts.
In February 2014, a controversy erupted over interviews given by Swami Aseemanand to a magazine called The Caravan, in which he alleged that some of the worst terror attacks in India were sanctioned by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, and its then General Secretary Mohan Bhagwat. Although Aseemanand subsequently denied making such allegations, the magazine released audio tapes of the interviews which included the Swami's stunning allegations.
Aseemanand (Naba Kumar aka Jiten Chatterjee aka Omkarnath) was born in Kamarpukar located in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. His father was Bibhutibhushan Sarkar a noted freedom fighter and his mother is Pramila Sarkar. He is one of six brothers. His early life was influenced by Ramakrishna Paramhansa and his world renowned disciple Swami Vivekanand. As a student he was inducted into the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). A graduate in physics, he did his post-graduation from the University of Burdwan, at which time his association with the RSS got stronger. He went on to work for the RSS full-time as a pracharak in 1977 with the Sangh Parivar organisation Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), which works for tribal welfare. His name Aseemanand was courtesy his guru, Swami Parmanand, in whose ashram in Bangram village of Burdwan Aseemanand stayed till 1988.
Life with tribals
Aseemanand moved in 1988 to the Andaman and Nicobar islands to work with the local office of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. Sources[who?] confirmed that Swami Aseemanand had constructed a few hut-type temples and, in some remote areas, installed the idols of ‘Lord Hanuman’. “One such temple still could be seen in a village near Miletilek of South Andaman,” said a person who knew Swami Aseemanand very closely in Andamans.
In 1993, he came to the headquarters of VKA in Jaspurnagar in the Chhattisgarh state. After two years, Aseemanand was sent to Dangs district of Gujarat to work with tribals in the area. Local tribals told him that the Ramayana era mythological character 'Shabari' used to live in those forests which influenced Aseemanand to build a Shabari temple there.
Allegations and arrest
Rajasthan's anti-terrorist squad (ATS) arrested Devendra Gupta on April 29 in connection with 2007 Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast. During the course of his interrogation, Gupta mentioned that it was Aseemanand and Sunil Joshi who had brought him into their fold and persuaded him to carry out the attacks on Ajmer Sharif and Mecca Masjid. Rajasthan ATS was led to track Aseemanand and he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 19 November 2010 from an ashram in Haridwar in Uttarakhand for his alleged involvement in the Ajmer Sharief, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express blasts. He was indicted on June 20, 2011 for planning the blast.
Confession and aftermath
Tehelka political magazine claimed on 16 December that Aseemanand requested the magistrate to record his confession about his involvement in a string of terror attacks. He stated that he was making the confession without any fear, force, coercion or inducement. In accordance with the law, the magistrate asked Aseemanand to reflect over his decision and sent him to judicial custody for two days — away from any police interference or influence. On 18 December, Aseemanand returned. “I know I can be sentenced to the death penalty but I still want to make the confession,” he said. Reportedly, in the jail, he got acquainted with a Muslim boy called Kaleem who was being held for the same crimes that he was. Kaleem was very helpful to him, which aroused his conscience and inspired him to confess to the crimes.
Over the next five hours, Aseemanand explained to the magistrate about the "involvement of a few Hindutva leaders, including himself, in planning and executing a series of terror attacks". A letter written by Aseemanand on December 20, 2010, two days after his confession to the CBI, was presented as evidence in January 2011 to show that the confession he gave was voluntary. In the letter, Aseemanand has explained his change of heart after meeting a Muslim boy who was falsely implicated in Malegaon blasts.
However on 12 May 2011 Aseemanand claimed that his confessional statements were obtained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) "under pressure". On June 2011 The NIA charged Swami Aseemanand in the Samjhauta Express train blast case, and the 2007 Ajmer dargah blasts case.
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