Summary of Aseemanand’s Interview
(Based on a Press Release issued by The Caravan magazine, February 5, 2014)
Swami Aseemanand, incarcerated in Ambala Central Jail for abetting terrorist attacks on various targets between 2006 and 2008—Samjhauta Express (February 2007), Hyderabad Mecca Masjid (May 2007), Ajmer Dargah (October 2007) and two attacks in Malegaon (September 2006 and September 2008)—which together took the lives of 119 people, has made a revelation toThe Caravan which has been published in the latest issue of the magazine. In the course of over two years, Aseemanand granted four exclusive interviews to The Caravan journalist Leena Gita Reghunath inside Ambala jail, the total duration of which ran into 09 hours and 26 minutes. In the last two interviews, Aseemanand repeated 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. 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.”
Extract from the 11,200-word-long The Caravan article:
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.Aseemanand told me that Bhagwat said of the violence, “It’s very important that it be done. But you should not link it to the Sangh.”
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—a two-hour drive. In a tent pitched by a river several kilometres away from the temple, Bhagwat and Kumar met with Aseemanand and his accomplice Sunil Joshi. 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.”
Aseemanand continued, “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.’”
Chargesheets filed by the investigative agencies allege that Kumar provided moral and material support to the conspirators, but they don’t implicate anyone as senior as Bhagwat. Although Kumar was interrogated once by the CBI, the case was later taken over by the NIA, which has not pursued the conspiracy past the level of Aseemanand and Pragya Singh. (Joshi, who was allegedly the connecting thread between several different parts of the conspiracy—including those who assembled and those who planted the bombs—was killed under mysterious circumstances in December 2007.)
Sixty-three-year-old Aseemanand dedicated almost his entire adult life to the tribal arm of the RSS, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA). At the time he planned the terrorist attacks, he had been the national head of the VKA’s religious wing, the Shraddha Jagran Vibhag—a position created especially for him—for a decade. In honour of Aseemanand’s service to the Sangh, in December 2005, he was awarded a special Guruji Samman on the occasion of the birth centenary of MS Golwalkar. The award came with a one-lakh-rupee cash prize and the veteran BJP leader and former party president Murli Manohar Joshi gave the ceremony’s keynote address. Not only have the RSS and the BJP never disowned Aseemanand for his roles in the terrorist attacks, or taken back the awards, Aseemanand confessed to The Caravan that RSS-affiliated lawyers are providing his legal aid.
Knowing the national relevance of the sensitive information that Aseemanand revealed to The Caravan journalist, in an interview which was conducted with the full consent of Aseemanand, we place these facts in front of the public, along with a tape recording and transcript of parts of the conversation that mention Mohan Bhagwat. The full story is atcaravanmagazine.in/reportage/believer – See more at: http://caravanmagazine.in/print/4150#sthash.Weap2Mpb.dpuf
Aseemanand also states that his confession to involvement in blasts, recorded in front of a magistrate, was not done under torture:
“They brought me to Delhi. Then the judge asked me “Kya bata rahein hain aap? Yeh sab sahi hain kya? Main likh ke rakh raha hun yahan — ki aapko phaansi ho sakta hain, yeh aap ko pata hain? Yeh main aapse pooch raha hoon, aap kya jawab denge? So I said, haan main taiyyar hoon. (What are you saying? Is this the truth? I am writing this down here – that I have asked you this, whether you understand that you could be hanged for this. What is your answer to that? I said, I am ready for the consequences.) Then the Sangh’s lawyers told me, aapko hum ab bacha nahin payenge. (We can’t save you now.) Then they said that I should give a statement that I was tortured. I said write whatever you want, and I will sign it. But sahi mein torture nahin hua hain. (But in truth they didn’t torture me.)”
Aseemanand’s words on his work in Gujarat during the 2002 genocide is also significant:
“Gujarat mein, main Hindutva ka kaam ke liye gaya. Aur aap ko kya main bataoon, 2002 mein jo Godhra aaya, Gujarat ke us adivasi area mein jo Mussalmano ka safaya kiya, usmein bhi main bahut active raha. Usme par main samne nahi aaya tha, isi liye me choot gaya. Adivasi area mein jo kaam kiya hain, woh direct adivasi ne hi kiya. Hum saamne nahi aaye. Abhi tak wahaan koi waapas nahi aaya. Baki sab jagah jo gaye woh waapas aaye. Yahaan pe aa hi nahin saktein. Dang mein nahi tha: par Panchmahal se leke uttar tak.
(I went to Gujarat for the work of Hindutva. Let me tell you this, in 2002, when Godhra happened, the cleansing of Muslims from the adivasi areas, I was very active in that. I didn’t reveal myself at the time, so I went free. The work done in adivasi areas was done directly by the adivasis. I did not come forward. And no one [no Muslim] has returned there so far. They’ve returned to all the other places. Here they cannot return. They weren’t in Dang, but from Panchmahal to the north.)”