No Hindu Terrorists Ever in History? PM’s Claim Isn’t Really True
The Samjhauta Express blast case acquittal was probably not the best example to prove the prime minister’s claim.
Addressing a rally in Maharasthra's Wardha on Monday, 1 April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that the Congress had coined the term "Hindu terror", and that no Hindu had ever been involved in acts of terrorism, referring to the recent acquittal of all those accused in the Samjhauta Express blast case.
PM Modi said, "The Congress tries to tarnish crores of people of the country by using the term ‘Hindu terror’. Tell me, weren't you deeply hurt when you heard the term ‘Hindu Terror’? Is there a single incident in history of Hindus engaging in terrorism?"
However, the Samjhauta Express case acquittal might not be the best example to say "no Hindu has ever indulged in terror activity", simply because the circumstances under which the acquittal was delivered have been discounted by the prime minister.
Reason For Acquittal – Lack of Evidence
On 20 March 2019, after a special NIA court delivered the verdict in the Samjhauta Express blast case, acquitting all four accused, including Swami Aseemanand, the judge who delivered the verdict said he was doing so with "deep pain and anguish" because a "dastardly instance of violence was going unpunished."
According to The Indian Express, the NIA judge Jagdeep Singh came down heavily on the agency for 'withholding' the best evidence and not cross-examining witnesses who did not toe their line.
In fact, the judge, in his 160-page order, had reportedly said: "There are gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism has remained unsolved. Terrorism has no religion because no religion in the world preaches violence. A court of law is not supposed to proceed on popular or predominant public perception or the political discourse of the day, and ultimately, it has to appreciate the evidence on record and arrive at final conclusion on the basis of relevant statutory provisions and settled law applicable thereto.”
The order had further stated that there was "no evidence regarding any meeting of minds of accused to commit the crime." This comes despite a 2011 charge sheet filed by the NIA itself against Swami Aseemanand in the Samjhauta bombing case, citing a meeting that took place between him and Sunil Joshi, another accused in the case, who died in 2007.
According to the a Times of India report on the charge sheet, a meeting had taken place in March 2006 after the Sankatmochan temple blasts in Varanasi.
At the meeting, Aseemanand had expressed his “desire for vengeance for the attacks on Hindu religious sites, which would be taken by attacking Islamist shrines.”
The meeting effectively set in motion the series of blasts between 2007 and 2008 which saw several mosques, including the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Dargah Sharif being targeted. Over the trials in each of these cases and the 2008 Malegaon blast case, several Hindu activists were pulled up as accused, with the Ajmer Dargah bombing case culminating in the 'first-ever conviction and sentencing of RSS cadre in a terror case.'
On 18 December 2010, Swami Aseemanand confessed before a metropolitan magistrate in New Delhi's Tis Hazari court that he and other Hindu activists "were involved in bombing at Muslim religious shrines because they wanted to avenge the terror acts with a 'bomb for bomb' policy."
According to The Hindu, Aseemanand admitted to having planned terror attacks on Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and the Samjhauta Express. Over the course of the 42-page confession, Aseemanand named several RSS pracharaks, including Sadhvi Pragya.
In his confession, he also stated that the trigger for these blasts were the “Islamist terror strikes” on Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar and the Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi.
However, Aseemanand retracted his statement later, and the ‘confession’ was among the documents which went missing from the Tis Hazari court in March 2018, enabling Aseemanand's acquittal in the Mecca Masjid blasts case as well.
Meanwhile, the CIA, in the latest edition of its World Factbook has categorised Hindu right-wing outfits – Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad – as ‘religious militant organisations.’
The World Factbook is a publication that, though primarily developed by the CIA, has inputs from other governments as well.
Who Coined the Term ‘Hindu Terror’?
Meanwhile, PM Modi had also alleged that the Congress had coined the term 'Hindu terror', "tarnishing the image of crores of people by doing so."
PM Modi was referring to former Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's remark in 2013, when he had alleged that the BJP and RSS were “promoting ‘Hindu terrorism’ through their training camps." Shinde had alleged that 'investigations' had revealed that the BJP and RSS were using their 'training camps' to spread terror.
However, the prime minister appears to have missed out on the fact that it was current Power minister RK Singh, who backed Shinde's statement, even after the Congress party had distanced itself from the comment.
Then the Union Home Secretary, RK Singh had backed Shinde's statement, stating that at least 10 people involved in the Samjhauta Express blasts, the Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer Dargah Sharif blasts were RSS associates, adding that there was "concrete evidence" against them.
After joining the BJP, Singh clarified that he had made the statement solely on the basis of information provided by the NIA, which was probing the cases.
Incidentally, Singh is also known as the bureaucrat who stopped LK Advani's rath yatra in 1990 and arrested him.
(With inputs from The Hindu, Times of India, The Indian Express and NDTV.)
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