Swami Aseemanand gets bail yet again; Whither Indian justice system?

Swami Aseemanand, the associate of RSS, emerged as the key figure in many a blast cases, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Dargah and Samjhauta Express

Swami Aseemanand gets bail yet again; Whither Indian justice system?

Dr Ram Puniyani

Seeing the pattern of justice delivery system of India currently it seems getting justice, punishing the guilty is not easy. The judgments come as an outcome of the evidence produced by the executive, police in front of the magistrates. The attitude of the ruling dispensation matters a lot in matters of the crimes related to the ideology being propounded and defended by the ruling party. Sometimes the assertion and strength of the ideologies, which are dominant but not in power also influence the delivery of justice. Times and over again this cruel fact has been staring at our face. In Mumbai violence of 1992-93 nearly one thousand persons was done to death, not too many convictions took place related to the heinous crimes committed during this carnage. In the aftermath of this carnage the bomb blasts took place, orchestrated by the underworld in collaboration with ISI of Pakistan. In these blasts nearly two hundred people died. In these cases some have been hanged to death for the crime, many have got life imprisonment and many others got other punishments. This is what should happen in a democracy. The most glaring case has been the contrast between Rubina Memon who is in prison for life for being the formal owner of the car which was used In Mumbai blasts, while Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, whose motor cycle was used for Malegaon blast got the bail.

All this comes to one’s mind yet again when the NIA Court has granted bail to Swami Aseemanand in case of Samjhauta Express blast in which 68 people (43 of them from Pakistan) died. Incidentally Swami was granted bail in the Mecca Masjid blast case earlier and the factors influencing justice delivery became obvious as the main file, a key document containing the disclosure by Aseemanand, went missing from the Court’s custody.

Swami Aseemanand, the associate of RSS, was a key figure in organising the Shabri Kumbh in Dangs. He also emerged as the key figure in many a blast cases, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Dargah and Samjhauta Express. All these took place in 2006-2008. The whole series came to a stop when Maharashtra ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, while investigating these cases came across the fact that the motor cycle used in Malegaon Blast cases belonged to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, and ex ABVP worker. The trail of investigation led to the role of many a followers of Hindutva ideology, influenced by or close to RSS related organisations. When these facts started coming out Karakare was criticized and attacked by the Hindu nationalists. Shiv Sena mouth Piece Saamna wrote that ‘we spit on the face of Karkare’, while the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi called him Deshdrohi (Anti national). Though Karkare was investigating with full professional integrity, such criticisms from political circles did shake him and he shared his anxiety with his senior and upright police officer Julio Rebiero. Later as NIA started maligning Karkare, Reibero stood by him and gave him the strongest testimony of professional integrity.

The involvement of elements like Pragya Thakur, Assemanand and company was a big revelation and some from then UPA Government used the word ‘Hindu terrorism’ or ‘saffron terrorism’ for these cases. This was a faulty word anyway. It came up on the lines of the prevalent term Islamic terrorism which has been in vogue since quite some time. Hemant Karkare was killed in 26/11 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. Many of those calling him anti-National now declared him as martyr! Later Rajasthan ATS further carried the investigation and many from RSS related stable were found to be accomplices in the acts of terror. Subhash Gatade’s book Godse’s Children chronicles it well.

The investigation changed the track with the coming of NDA II in power in center in 2014. Rohini Salian the public prosecutor from Mumbai, who was dealing with these cases was told to go soft on these cases. Now a decade later Hemant Karkare’s investigation has been totally bypassed. Counter allegations against Karkare are floating around. At the same time doubts about the legal system and its role in punishing the guilty is coming to surface yet again.

In case of Swami Aseemanand, after his arrest he had given a confession in front of a magistrate. This confession was not in police custody; this was after two days of judicial custody. In his confession, which is legally valid, he gave the details of his central role and planning the blasts which took place during 2007-2008. He also indicated that even top level RSS leadership was also in the know of the goings on. In a long interviews spanning over two years, given to Caravan Magazine journalist Leena Raghunath (Believer,Caravan) he stated the things similar to what he told the magistrate. Later he withdrew the statement given in front of magistrate saying that the confession was given under pressure.

After this bail, it is clear yet again that the justice system is so much dependent on the executive, the way police presents the case to the Magistrate examining the case. In the aftermath of this bail, Vikash Naraan Rai, who was Chief of SIT, investigating into Samjhauta blast, questions the handling of case by NIA. He asks "It is for the NIA to answer that why the witnesses resiled (back-traced) in this case. As they have turned hostile in the court even after giving statements under 164 of CrPC, the investigating agency should press perjury charges on them. The general perception is that NIA had gone soft in this case. One can further comment once the complete judgment comes."

With this bail, the question comes up who is responsible for the death of those 68 people? As usual it seems nobody did the blast leading to Samjhauta express tragedy! What we are witnessing is a sustained effort to undermine the process of justice in pursuit of sectarian nationalism.

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