Aseemanand takes back all he said, was ‘coerced’

The prime accused in the string of terror cases involving alleged Hindu extremists, Swami Aseemanand, has told the Ajmer Chief Judicial Magistrate that his confession to the CBI was under coercion from investigation agencies. And so was his letter allegedly suggesting he wanted to turn approver.

Aseemanand told the court he has no desire to turn approver in the cases including the Samjhauta Express, Ajmer, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Aseemanand and three other accused in the Ajmer blast probe, including Harshad Solanki, Bharat Rateshwar and Mukesh Vasani, were produced in the Ajmer court yesterday where Aseemanand handed his application. A senior advocate present during the proceedings said Aseemanand alleged he was physically and mentally tortured during interrogations.

However, the Rajasthan ATS declined to comment. A senior official said: "The investigation is genuine and we do not want to comment about Aseemanand's application to the court."

Sources said Aseemanand had, on February 15, submitted a letter to the CJM that he wished to make a statement to the court in private. Senior advocates suspected the letter contained Aseemanand's intention to turn approver but the latter denied it.

Senior advocates said that Aseemanand told the court that the CBI and NIA put pressure on him — including threatening his family — to confess to his role in the Samjhauta blasts. And threatened to "fix" him in false cases and put his "family in jail."

It was Aseemanand's confession to the CBI that laid bare the inner workings of the people and groups responsible for a series of blasts including Malegaon, Ajmer, the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad.

Following his retraction, a Tis Hazari court today reserved its order on the alleged leak of his confession. Appearing for petitioner Devendra Gupta, Anupam Sharma told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Bansal that Aseemanand had claimed that the Investigative Officer was present outside the courtroom of Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Dabbas in Delhi when he was recording his statement. Bansal had asked the CBI to file a report explaining under what circumstances the confession was leaked to the press.

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