Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Runaway swami's not so holy designs
Investigators probing the acts of terror allegedly carried out by right-wing groups at Malegaon, Ajmer and Hyderabad are now looking for Swami Aseemanand and his accomplice.
The police have been looking for Swami Aseemanand since the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in October 2009 in connection with the Malegaon blasts. The ATS had picked up incriminating intercepts of his conversation with the Sadhvi in which the duo planned the Malegaon blast. Currently, police teams from three states are trying to track down the runaway Swami.
According to sources, Swami Aseemanand runs the Shabaridham Ashram in The Dangs district in Gujarat. He worked in tribal areas and focused on reconverting Christian tribals to Hinduism. He had a lot of followers and when investigators quizzed some of them about his role in terror activities, they were visibly taken aback, said sources.
Swami Aseemanand, originally known as Jatin Chatterjee, hails from Hoogly district in Bengal. A post graduate in botany, he joined the Ramkrishna Mission for a short while before deciding to leave Bengal, disillusioned with the Left's rule over the state.
He moved to The Dangs in 2001. Concerned about the conversions taking place in tribal areas, he decided to work among the locals and encourage re-conversions. Like the Sadhvi and fellow Malegaon blast accused Colonel Srikant Purohit, he was angered by the terror strikes across India and decided to avenge them, said sources.
Swami Aseemanand met the Sadhvi on several occasions and the duo discussed the rising instances of terrorism in India, the sources said.
Following their meeting, the two decided to keep in touch and the plan to carry out retaliatory terror strikes was chalked out during their telephonic conversations, say sources.
Swami Aseemanand used his driver's mobile phone while taking to the Sadhvi and the ATS has managed to intercept their conversations. ATS officials also interrogated the driver Sunil Dhawde, but he did not divulge too much information.
A team of the Rajasthan ATS recently traveled to Aseemanand's ashram in The Dangs, but he had reportedly gone into hiding since the Mumbai ATS started looking for him in November 2008.
ATS sources believe that the Swami might have sought refuge with the local tribals.