New Delhi: With the many aliases and a saffron identity, self-confessed monk Assemanand was acquitted from the 2007 Samjhauta train bombing case on Wednesday by a special court in Panchkula, Haryana. This 67-year-old bespectacled, saffron-clad man who was out on bail, has also emerged unscathed from all the three terror incidents in 2007.
Here is all you need to know about the saffron-clad Aseemanand:
1) Aseemanand was born in Naba Kumar Sarkar of Kamaarpukar village in West Bengal’s Hooghly district. He has many aliases including Jatin Chatterjee and Omkarnath.
2) On the intervening night of February 17-18, 2007, a bomb blast on the Samjhauta Express killed 68 people. Samjhauta Express is the only train link between India and Pakistan. On May 18, 2007, a bomb blast in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid killed nine people. In October 2017, a blast in Ajmer’s famed Khwaja Chishti shrine claimed three lives. Aseemanand was allegedly linked in a series of three bombings that ripped the nation in 2007.
3) Three years after his alleged involvement in the series of three explosions in 2007, the CBI arrested Aseemanand on November 20, 2010, from an ashram in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. He had been staying there for weeks with forged identification papers. Sleuths who arrested him found a passport issued by the RPO Kolkata, a ration card and an election card issued by the Haridwar authorities.
4) In March 2017, he was absolved in the Ajmer case, in April 2018, he was acquitted in the Mecca Masjid case and in 2010, the CBI arrested Aseemanand for his alleged role in the Mecca Masjid blast.
5) This self-claimed monk had completed his graduation in science in 1971. However, influenced by the rightwing groups at school, Aseemanand went on to work full time with Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Purulia and Bankura districts in the state. At the Ashram, Naba Kumar Sarkar was christened Swami Aseemanand in 1981, according to investigators.
6) In 2002, 30 devotees were allegedly killed by terrorist suicide bombers at the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar. Aseemanand claimed that he wanted to avenge the deaths. He spoke of his association with others accused in the terror-related cases but retracted the statement later.
7) In the late 1990s, Aseemanand started a tribal welfare organisation called Shabri Dham, a Hindu rightwing organisation. He settled down in Gujarat’s Dangs district. He was soon known for his anti-minority speeches and his relentless campaign against Christian missionaries.
8) The rightwing preacher, also gave a graphic account of his alleged involvement in two other cases of terrorism in Maharashtra’s Malegaon town on September 8, 2006, when 37 people were killed and on September 29, 2008, when six people were killed.
Aseemanand was once the most wanted man in India. He had disguised himself as a religious preacher, science student and terror accused.
(With PTI inputs)