Aseemanand denies pointing finger at RSS chief

Magazine stands by interview despite legal action threat

Aseemanand denies pointing finger at RSS chief

Samjhauta Express blast accused Swami Aseemanand has denied saying that the terror attacks had the sanction of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its chief Mohan Bhagwat in a handwritten letter that surfaced on Friday.

Assemanand was earlier quoted leveling charges against the RSS in an interview to a news magazine Caravan from the jail. Threatening legal action, Aseemanand who has been in jail since 2010 calls the magazine report “fabricated.”

Although he admitted to having met the magazine’s reporter, he denied the interview. “On January 9, 2014, the reporter came to meet me in the jail. I saw her several times as a reporter in the Panchkula court. But on 9th January she came as an advocate and wanted to help me. I refused her proposal...Then she requested me to discuss social work,” Assemanand said.

The magazine on Thursday quoted Aseemanand as saying that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had sanctioned the 2007 Samjhauta Express, Hyderabad Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Dargah blasts. He is an accused in all these blasts.

Aseemanand was arrested in 2010 for his role in terror strikes between 2006 and 2008, including the bombing of the Samjhauta Express in 2007 on the peace train from Delhi to Lahore. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has framed charges against him and others in a Panchkula court near here.

The accused in the letter has denied saying anything about RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat or Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. “The story mentioned in the article is totally false and fabricated. I will take legal action,” he said.

However, the magazine says it stands by the story. Caravan’s executive editor Vinod Jose said, “I understand the pressure that Aseemanand is under. Our journalist introduced herself as a journalist. Aseemanand was elated that a journalist wanted to tell his story. He himself wanted these interviews.” 

The magazine says its reporter interviewed Aseemanand in the Ambala Jail in Haryana four times over two years. The BJP and the RSS have rubbished both the claim and the story.  

Jose also expressed readiness for a forensic examination of audio tapes of the interview. He said the reporter Leena Gita Reghunath met Aseemanand first in Panchkula district court on December 20, 2011 when he agreed to be interviewd inside the Ambala jail.

The first interview took place on January 10, 2012 followed by June 22, 2013. The last two interviews were conducted on January nine and January 17 this year. “Why is government and investigating agencies shying away from questioning Aseemanand?,” Jose said to Deccan Herald.

In a statement, the NIA said there have been varying reports in media on NIA’s position on Aseemanand’s interview. “NIA clarifies that these reports are mere speculation and do not in any manner reflect the official position of NIA,” it said.

Senior CPM leader Basudev Achariya has demanded a CBI probe into the claims made by Aseemanand. He said the government should move forward and get all the issue examined thoroughly.

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