Aseemanand acquitted, but still not 'free'

New Delhi, April 17: Nabakumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, acquitted by a NIA court on Monday in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, now faces trial only in the 2007 Samjhauta Express train blast case since he was earlier acquitted in the Ajmer Dargah blast case of the same year.

A resident of Gujarat and head of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Aseemanand was formerly associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The septuagenarian is currently on bail in the case pertaining to the blast on the Samjhauta Express train near Panipat in Haryana. 

On Monday, the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Hyderabad acquitted the Swami and four other Hindu right wing members in the Mecca Masjid blast case by saying that none of the charges framed against the accused were proved.

A powerful explosion killed nine people at the Mecca Masjid near Charminar in Hyderabad during the Friday prayers on May 18, 2007. Five more were killed in subsequent police firing on the crowd outside the mosque.

On March 8, 2017, another NIA court in Jaipur in Rajasthan had acquitted Aseemanand and six others in the Ajmer dargah blast case due to insufficient evidence, but convicted three persons -- Bhavesh Patel, Devendra Gupta and Sunil Joshi, who was murdered in December 2007.

On October 11, 2007, an explosion at the 13th century shrine of Sufi mystic Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer during Ramzan killed three persons. 

On February 18, 2007, a blast on the Samjhauta Express train between New Delhi and Lahore in Pakistan killed 68 people, most of them Pakistanis. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had granted bail to Aseemanand in the case in 2014.

Apart from these cases, Aseemanand's name also cropped up in the Malegaon blast cases of 2006 and 2008. 

On September 8, 2006, three blasts, including one in a mosque at Malegaon in Maharashtra, killed 37 people. On September 29, 2008, two bombs went off in Malegaon, killing seven persons.

However, the NIA in its 2013 charge-sheet in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case left out Aseemanand as the agency did not find any link. 

In 2010, Aseemanand had allegedly confessed that he and other right wing activists were involved in bombings at places of worship across the country to take revenge against the "terror acts of Muslims". 

He later retracted his statements, saying he was tortured and pressurised to give wrong statements.

The 2006 Malegaon blasts happened after the July 11, 2006, Mumbai train blasts that killed more than 200 people, and four days before the verdict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case on September 12, 2006. 



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