2007 Ajmer Dargah blasts case: Life imprisonment to two convicts
The National Investigation Agency Special Court in Jaipur pronounced the quantum of sentence in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah bomb blast case. It awarded lifetime imprisonment to two convicts, Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel, in the case. In the past, Gupta and Patel owed allegiance to Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). It is the first terror case in which the RSS cadre was convicted and sentenced.
On 11 October 2007, there was a powerful bomb blast inside the compound of the famous Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer. The attack that took place in the evening during the Roza Iftaar claimed three lives and injured 15. It was allegedly launched to stir communal disharmony, insult religious feelings, and incite riots during Islam's holiest month of Ramzan.
The case was handed over to the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), which filed a charge sheet accusing three persons before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Ajmer in October 2010. However, the investigation was taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on 1 April 2011. Later, the case was re-registered with the NIA police station in New Delhi on 6 April 2011.
The charge sheet said a section of radicalized Hindus, associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, conducted the Ajmer Dargah blasts and Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blasts in retaliation for the 2002 Amarnath Yatra attacks and Jammu's Raghunath Temple attack allegedly launched by Muslim outfits.
NIA filed another charge sheet against Swami Aseemanand, whose confession helped it open other similar blast cases. He claimed that he suggested the attacks on Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Dargah in 2007 and in the Muslim-majority city of Malegaon in 2008. The attack on Samjhauta Express -the 'Friendship Express' that travels across Indo-Pak border- in 2007 was also under scrutiny after his confession.
Swami Aseemanand said, "I told everybody that we should answer bombs with bombs. I said that since Hindus also throng Ajmer we should also explode a bomb in Ajmer which would deter the Hindus from going there."
Out of a total of 13 accused persons in the Ajmer blast case, Swami Aseemanand and six others were acquitted by the NIA court in Jaipur. Aseemanand was accused of masterminding the blast. The court convicted Devendra Gupta, Bhavesh Patel, and Sunil Joshi. Joshi was mysteriously murdered in Godhra in December 2007; three accused persons are still on the run.
The conviction was made under IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 3/4 of Explosive Substances Act, and Sections 16 and 18 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). As many as 149 witnesses and 451 documents were examined, and three supplementary charge sheets were filed by NIA.