In what could lead to a major embarrassment for the Centre, investigations into the much-hyped Hindu terror cases are likely to hit a dead end. The cases, including blasts at Modasa, Malegaon I and II, Ajmer, Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid, in which Swami Aseemanand has been made the main conspirator, lack corroborative evidence. The investigators feel the cases may fall flat during trial.
More than five years since investigations started, the probe agencies — CBI, NIA and State police — are still clueless about those named by Aseemanand. All these co-accused are still absconding. The chargesheets in these cases have been filed on the basis of Aseemanand’s confessional statement, which he has subsequently denied.
The NIA needs to gather concrete material evidence to substantiate the alleged conspiracy and corroborate his statements. Sources said the chargesheets were filed mainly to prevent Aseemanand getting bail.
Sources said the NIA, which has been struggling to collect evidence in the 2006 Malegaon blast case, is likely to quiz some of the Maharashtra ATS officials who had probed the case. In the light of a confession by Swami Aseemanand before a magistrate, the nine youths arrested by the Anti-Terror Squad in 2006 were released on bail recently by the court as the NIA did not oppose the same due to lack of evidence against them.
The NIA now plans to examine the role of officials of Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad, which had chargesheeted the nine youths in the case, and re-visit their investigations into the case, official sources said. The key
conspirator and the alleged conspiracy may be there but the co-conspirators of these cases are still at large and the confessional statement under Section 164 of the CrPC does not hold any value unless corroborated with material evidence, an investigator said.
The official says that Aseemanand’s confessional statements do not hold evidentiary value as he has subsequently denied them and claimed that the same were extracted under duress. Notwithstanding the chargesheets filed in the cases, the investigation continues to be open till evidences to corroborate the allegations are gathered.
So far, the NIA has gathered materials to prove that similar explosives were used in these blasts and were packed into pipes procured from a shop in Indore. The probe agencies are also basing their cases on procurement of 21 SIM cards from Faridabad by the accused. The SIM cards have a common series of mobile numbers.
Concern has already been expressed at the highest levels in the security and intelligence establishment over the failure of the agencies in cracking the blasts cases. NIA officials admitted that tracing the is a challenge as they hold key to corroboration of the allegations made and materials gathered.
Agency officials blamed the failure in gathering evidence inter-State rivalries in cases where the links stretched to more than one State and loss of crucial time before the federal agency took up the cases for investigation.
The NIA is still investigating the Modasa mosque blast even as the case was registered by the June 29, 2010. The allegations include bomb explosions by terrorists at a mosque in the Gujarat town in Sabarkantha district at 9.25 PM on September 29, 2008. The Gujarat Police had registered the case on September 30, 2008. The case was registered under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (grievous injury) of the Indian Penal Code and under relevant sections of Explosives Substances Act and Bombay Police Act. The agency is yet to file a charge sheet.
The Samjhauta Express train blasts case that occurred on February 19, 2007 is being investigated by NIA vide its case number 09/10 and a chargesheet has been filed against accused. But little headway has been made as key accused Amit, alias Ashok, alias Prince, alias Sunny, alias Ashwini, alias Ashwini Chauhan, is yet to be arrested. The charges include seditious activity by causing explosions in Samjhauta Express train at Panipat in Haryana. The case was initially registered by GRP, Karnal on February 19, 2007 and the NIA later took it up on July 29, 2010.
The chargesheet has been filed against five accused persons under Sections 120-B, 302, 307, 324, 326 of the IPC and under relevant Sections of the Explosive Substances Act and Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act and under certain provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
But the NIA is further probing the matter as per the provisions of the Section 173 (8) of the CrPC with a view to file a supplementary chargesheet detailing corroborative evidence. However, the accused persons are still at large and the only material is Aseemanand’s statement recorded before a magistrate and commonality of modus operandi, use of explosives and SIM cards of a certain series of mobile phone numbers in the so-called Hindu terror cases.
In the Mecca Masjid blasts case, a chargesheet was filed by the CBI, and the NIA later on filed a supplementary charge sheet but without much evidence on record. Likewise, the NIA is yet to trace the accused or gather any substantive material in the Malegaon I and II blasts case besides the Ajmer blasts case. Chargesheets have been filed but the cases are yet to move further for want of corroborative evidence.
Key absconders include Ram Chandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange, Suresh Nair, Bhavesh Patel, Amit, Mehul and Jauyanti Bhai Gohil. NIA has named Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi (now dead), Sandeep Dange, Ramchandra Kalsangra, Suresh Nair, Bhavesh, Mehul as the key accused in Samjhauta, Ajmer, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts cases in which it has filed chargesheets.