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Naba Kumar Sarkar
|Other names||Jiten Chatterje, Omkarnath|
|Parent(s)||Bibhutibhushan Sarkar (Father), Pramila Sarkar (Mother)|
Swami Aseemanand is an Indian Monk who was accused and now acquitted in Ajmer dargah, Mecca Masjid, and the Samjhauta Express terrorist bombings. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) first arrested Aseemanand in November 2010 for his alleged involvement in the Mecca Masjid bombing and he was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in December 2010. After a prolonged trial Swami Assemanand was acquitted in Ajmer dargah, Mecca Masjid and Samjhautha express blast cases by NIA Special Courts in March 2017, April 2018 and March 2019 respectively.
His 'confession' while in police custody, recorded in front of a metropolitan magistrate of Tis Hazari Courts, was leaked to Tehelka news magazine in January 2011 and published in media. Subsequently, in late March 2011, Aseemanand stated that he had been pressurized by the investigating agencies to confess that he was behind these blasts. This was accepted by NIA courts which deemed the confessional statement of Aseemanad in police custody as involuntary and refused to admit it as evidence under Indian Evidence Act.
In February 2014, a controversy erupted over interviews given by Swami Aseemanand in 2012 to a reporter of The Caravan magazine who met him in Ambala Central Jail posing as a Advocate. According to the Caravan magazine, in these interviews Aseemanand 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. Aseemanand immediately denied making any such allegations in his interactions with the Caravan reporter while lodged in prison, after which the magazine released unverified audio tapes of the interviews, none of which have been submitted for forensic examination.
Aseemanand was born Naba Kumar Sarkar in Kamarpukar located in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. (Over time he also used the aliases Jiten Chatterjee and Omkarnath.) His father was Bibhutibhushan Sarkar a noted freedom fighter and his mother is Pramila Sarkar. He is one of seven brothers. His early life was influenced by Ramakrishna Paramhansa and his world-renowned disciple Swami Vivekananda. 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 (VKA). 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 the Andamans.
In 1993, he came to the headquarters of VKA in Jaspurnagar in Chhattisgarh. After two years, Aseemanand was sent to Dangs district of Gujarat to work with tribals in the area. Local tribals told him that Shabari, from the Ramayana, had lived in their forests which influenced Swami Aseemanand to build a Shabari temple there. He was quite popular among Dang tribals. When Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram shunted him out of Dang over some controversy, the tribals refused to cooperate and he had to be brought back to placate them.
Allegations, arrest and acquittal
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 allegedly 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 charged on June 2011 by NIA for planning the blast. He was conditionally granted Bail in 2015 in the blast case. After a prolonged trial Swami Assemanand was acquitted in Ajmer dargah and Mecca Masjid blast cases by NIA Special Courts in March 2017 and April 2018.
On 20 March 2019, a NIA Special court acquitted all four accused including Swami Aseemanand in Samjhauta Express Blast case. “The NIA Special Court has concluded that the investigating agency has failed to prove the conspiracy charge and ruled that accused deserve a benefit of doubt,” NIA Counsel RK Handa said.
- "Swami Aseemanand: Myth of the Monk Who Preached Terror". Text "http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/politics/swami-aseemanand-myth-of-the-monk-who-preached-terror" ignored (help)
- IANS (17 April 2018). "Acquitted in two cases, Aseemanand still faces Samjautha case trial". Chennai, India: The Newsminute. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- "In the words of a zealot". Tehelka. 15 January 2011. Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "Confessed involuntarily and under duress: Samjhauta blast accused Aseemanand - Times of India". The Times of India. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- "NIA court saw no merit in Aseemanand's 'confession'". The Hindu. 24 April 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "'Aseemanand's confession was not voluntary'". The Hindu. 21 April 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Totally False And Fabricated". Outlook India. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "What Aseemanand allegedly said about Narendra Modi, RSS and terror". NDTV. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- "Swami Aseemanand claims RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat knew about conspiracy to bomb civilian targets". The Caravan. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- Jaffrelot, Christophe (5 February 2011). "Paradigm Shifts by the RSS? Lessons from Aseemanand's Confession". Economic and Political Weekly. XLVI (6): 42–46.
- "My son has been framed, says Aseemananda's mother", The Indian Express, 27 November 2010, retrieved 3 November 2016
- "Samjhauta Express blast and accused Swami Aseemanand: All you need to know". OneIndia. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- "Terror has a new colour". The Asian Age. 16 January 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "Andaman Sheekha, the True Mirror of A & N Islands". Andamansheekha.com. Retrieved 19 November 2011.[dead link]
- "Terror probe: CBI arrests Aseemanand in Haridwar". Indian Express. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "Aseemanand confessed role in Samjhauta blast, claims probe". Indian Express. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "NIA fails to find killers of 68 Samjhauta Express passengers". TheIndependent.in.
- Arvind J. Bosmia (18 January 2011). "Swami Aseemanand, as I know him - Rediff.com India News". Rediff.com. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "Is Swami Aseemanand a Terrorist?". Breakingnewsonline.net. 19 January 2011. Archived from the original on 22 January 2011.