Vol. XLIII No. 25 June 23, 2019
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Shameful Verdict on Hindutva Terror

THE acquittal of Aseemanand (real name Naba Kumar Sarkar) and three others in the Samjhauta train blast case is a shameful reminder that the criminal justice system in India is incapable of bringing terrorists of the extremist Hindutva variety to justice for their crimes.

Between 2006 and 2008, there were six terrorist incidents perpetrated by a network of extreme Hindutva groups.  Aseemanand, Pragya Thakur and Lt. Colonel Shrikant Purohit were the prominent conspirators amongst them.

Aseemanand, an RSS-VHP activist who was earlier acquitted in the Mecca Masjid blast and the Ajmer Dargah blast cases is considered to be the main organizer of the terrorist attacks which targeted Muslim places of worship. Both these cases were investigated by the National Investigation Agency(NIA). Under the Modi regime, the NIA has the dubious record of undermining all the terrorist cases related to the Hindutva extremist groups. In the Mecca Masjid blast in which nine people were killed in 2017 all the accused including Aseemanand were acquitted.

In the Ajmer Dargah blast case, prosecuted by the NIA, Aseemanand and six others were acquitted. It was only in this case that two RSS pracharaks were convicted and sentenced to life; however their sentences were stayed by the High Court.  In the case concerning the Malegaon blast of 2008, the NIA dropped charges against Pragya Thakur under the MCOCA. But the special court reinstated the case against her under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

That the NIA was trying to exonerate both Pragya Thakur and Srikant Purohit in this case was exposed when the public prosecutor Rohini Salian complained that the NIA was pressurizing her to go soft on the case.  The NIA did not oppose bail being granted to Pragya Thakur and Purohit.

The Samjhauta train blast was one of the most gruesome terrorist incidents that occurred. With this judicial verdict, the message has gone that no one is responsible for this terrorist event, when in fact there was sufficient evidence linking the blast to persons linked to the outfits affiliated to the RSS. When the case was initially investigated by the special investigation team of the Haryana police, they had traced various parts of an unexploded bomb in the train, to persons who had purchased them in Indore. Even the suitcase which held the bomb was traced to a shop in the city and the two men who bought it were identified by the shop assistants.

The pattern in all the cases are the same - shoddy prosecution, witnesses turning hostile and a lack of conviction on the part of the NIA in pursuing the cases. The NIA did not go in appeal against the court verdict acquitting Aseemanand in Mecca Masjid case, or, the Ajmer Dargah case.

In the Samjhauta train blast case in which 68 people were killed including 43 Pakistan nationals, the Union Home Minster, Rajnath Singh, himself has stated that no appeal will be made in the higher court. This shows the political bias of the BJP government. It provided the opportunity for the Pakistan government to lodge a protest against what it called “a travesty of justice”.

What the Samjhauta, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sherif blast cases have revealed is that the Modi government will not recognize or accept that there were terrorist attacks planned and executed by extremist Hindu elements. For the Modi government, terrorism can only be perpetrated by Muslim extremists and not by Hindu extremists. The criminal justice system is being subverted to convey this chilling message.     

(March 27, 2019)