Swami Aseemanand, accused in the blasts in the Samjhauta Express (February 2007), Hyderabad Mecca Masjid (May 2007) and Ajmer Dargah (October 2007), has claimed that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had “sanctioned” the attacks.
A report in The Caravan magazine quoted Aseemanand as saying that Bhagwat, then RSS general secretary, told him that the blasts should not be linked to the Sangh. “Aseemanand told The Caravan that Bhagwat said of the violence, ‘It is very important that it be done. But you should not link it to the Sangh’,” said a press release issued by the magazine on Wednesday.
The RSS, however, denied the charge and questioned the veracity of the interview with Aseemanand, who is currently in Ambala Central Jail. “It is a rubbish and concocted interview,” said the RSS’s all-India publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya.
“Aseemanand’s lawyer has issued a statement categorically stating that the contents of the article are false, baseless and concocted. He has also said that his client denies having given any such interview,” claimed RSS leader Ram Madhav. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “All the allegations are baseless. Even the authenticity of the interview is questionable. We do not want to comment on an interview, the veracity of which itself is questionable.”
The magazine has claimed that Aseemanand gave the interviews over a series of interactions — the audio tapes and transcripts were made public by the publication on Wednesday. “Over the course of our conversations, Aseemanand’s description of the plot in which he was involved became increasingly detailed. In our third and fourth interviews, he told me that his terrorist acts were sanctioned by the highest levels of the RSS — all the way up to Mohan Bhagwat, the current RSS chief, who was the organisation’s general secretary at the time,” said the report.
“Aseemanand told me about a meeting that allegedly took place in July 2005. After an RSS conclave in Surat, senior Sangh leaders including Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar, who is now on the organisation’s powerful seven-member national executive council, travelled to a temple in the Dangs, Gujarat, where Aseemanand was living… In a tent pitched by a river several kilometres away from the temple, Bhagwat and Kumar met with Aseemanand and his accomplice Sunil Joshi (who was killed in December 2007). Joshi informed Bhagwat of a plan to bomb several Muslim targets around India.
According to Aseemanand, both RSS leaders approved, and Bhagwat told him, ‘You can work on this with Sunil. We will not be involved, but if you are doing this, you can consider us to be with you’,” it said.
The report said Bhagwat granted his “blessings” for the attacks, and requested Aseemanand to “please do this”. The report quoted Aseemanand as saying, “Then they told me, ‘Swamiji, if you do this we will be at ease with it. Nothing wrong will happen then. Criminalisation nahin hoga (It will not be criminalised). If you do it, then people won’t say that we did a crime for the sake of committing a crime. It will be connected to the ideology. This is very important for Hindus. Please do this. You have our blessings’.”
BJP leaders Prabhat Jha, Shahnawaz Hussain and Krishnapal Gujar also addressed a number of rallies.