Tamil History: Swami Asimananda.

 

The Muslim boy Kaleem pierced my conscience. I understood that love between two human beings is more powerful than the hatred between two communities’

Swami Asimananda did not just confess his terror conspiracy before a magistrate. He wrote to the President of India and the President of Pakistan, admitting his crimes and seeking penance. ASHISH KHETAN scoops the astonishing documents

BEENA SARWAR  Editor, Special Projects, Jang Group, Pakistan

Surprise reform Copies of the two letters Asimananda wrote to the President of India and the President of Pakistan

PHOTO: INDIAN EXPRESS ARCHIVES

ON 16 DECEMBER, when Swami Asimananda first appeared before a Delhi Metropolitan Magistrate at Tis Hazari with a request to record his confession, the magistrate was a bit incredulous. He asked the Swami if the CBIwas threatening or coercing him into giving a confession. The Swami smiled back and replied, “You really think these cops could force me into doing something I don’t want to do? When even Atal and Advani could never dare to put pressure on me, then what chance in the world do these poor fellows have.”

‘Who are Atal and Advani?’ asked the magistrate. For a moment, he was disoriented by the names uttered with such easy, almost scornful, familiarity by this elderly, shabbily dressed man produced before him as a terror suspect.

“The former prime minister and deputy prime minister,” the Swami replied in the same measured tone.

This conversation, which TEHELKA has learned from highly placed sources, provides a rare insight into the man who was once a formidable and doctrinaire ideologue of the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh and inspired both fear and awe even among senior BJP functionaries.

‘Before the criminal legal system hangs me, I want an opportunity to transform Hafiz Saeed, Mullah Omar and other jihadi terrorists,’ wrote Asimananda

In 2006, when the Swami organised the Shabri Kumbh Mela at his ashram in Dangs, Gujarat, the who’s who of the BJP and the RSS congregated to mark their presence. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and then RSS chief KS Sudarshan were part of the jamboree.

The Swami had devoted his life to the cause of ‘Hindutva.’ After setting up the Shabri Dham Ashram in 1997, he worked zealously at reconverting tribal Christians into Hinduism. He regularly mobilised violent mobs, attacked Christian missionaries and captured their churches. According to reports, Asimananda had forcibly occupied over two dozen churches in Dangs. At one point he had even refused to listen to the pleas of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had reportedly asked him to refrain from violence and coercion while carrying out the anti-conversion work.

But in a curious twist of fate — and in a development that no investigative agency could ever have anticipated or imagined — this intractable zealot was profoundly transformed by a chance encounter in prison with a courteous young Muslim man, wrongly arrested and tortured for the Mecca Masjid blast — a blast, which in truth, the Swami and his co-conspirators had committed. (See TEHELKA story In the Words of a Zealot, 15 January).

Intensely moved and gripped by a desire for penance, Swami Asimananda apparently requested a confession before a magistrate. “I know I may be served a death sentence for this, but I still want to confess,” he told the magistrate. Published by TEHELKA last week, this confession, which is the first legal evidence to show the involvement of RSS pracharaks in the Malegaon 2006 and Samjhauta Express blasts, has had wideranging political and diplomatic impact. But this was not all.

IN AN astonishing gesture, apart from his confession before the magistrate, Swami Asimananda also wrote to the President of India and the President of Pakistan, admitting to his crimes and detailing the encounter with the Muslim boy that changed his heart. “Abdul Kaleem pierced my conscience,” he wrote. “After all, he had been made to suffer for my wrong work. I understood that love between two human beings is more powerful than the hatred between two communities.”

In a development no investigative agency could ever have anticipated, this intractable zealot was transformed by an encounter with a courteous Muslim man in prison

In these two letters, written in his own handwriting — copies of which are in exclusive possession of TEHELKA—the Swami then goes on to express a desire to meet Lashkar-e- Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Taliban leader Mullah Omar and other jihadi terrorists and urges the two presidents to help him get an “opportunity” to transform the jihadis as he himself has been transformed.

The Swami says he had taken to terrorism in retaliation to Islamist terror attacks on temples, but having realised the futility of mindless violence, he would now like to persuade terrorists like Hafiz Saeed to renounce this path as well. He requests “the good office” of the President of India to help him go to Pakistan to do this.

After TEHELKA published Asimananda’s confession last week, several Hindutva apologists asserted the confession was coerced out of him. His counsel also belatedly asserted — 20 days after the event had taken place — that the confession was false and would be retracted. But the letters to the Presidents of India and Pakistan give the lie to all that. Swami Asimananda wrote them two days after he made the confession under Section 164 of CRPC. He had given these letters on a jail visit to his brother to post. TEHELKA procured them from him. The tone and tenor of these letters exactly match his confession. However, his lawyer did not mention them last week as part of the CBI’s alleged coercion.

These letters present a fresh challenge to those who would deny all that Swami Asimananda has confessed to. TEHELKA wrote to the office of the President of India seeking a confirmation that they had received the letter. At the time of going to press, the President’s office had yet not responded.

Terror, it seems, has finally fallen prey to something mightier than it: the power of human conscience.

 

To
THE PRESIDENT,
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi – 110001,
Dec 20,2010

Madam President,

1. I am Swami Asimananda. I am the one who had organised and motivated persons to blast Samjhauta Express and other places because I was angry about jihadi attacks on Hindu temples.

2. After my arrest, when I was in jail, one Muslim boy Kaleem was very kind to me in Hyderabad. After some time, I asked him why he was inside here in jail, and he told me that he was earlier wrongly arrested and tortured by Hyderabad Police in connection with Mecca Masjid bomb blast. This pierced my conscience. It transformed me. The man who had every reason to hate me, showed me love. After all, he had been made to suffer for my wrong work. I understood that love between two human beings is more powerful than the hatred between two communities. I decided on prayaschith, and told this to CBI, when they took me in their custody. They told me that we cannot do anything about prayaschith, only court can, and so I told them to take me to the court in that case. After that, I told the judge the truth.

3. I have also addressed a letter to the Pakistan President telling him about myself and requested him to grant me an opportunity to transform or reform jihadi terrorist leaders and other jihadi footsoldiers in Pakistan (copy enclosed).

4. I request you to use your good office to help me to go there and meet these jihadi leaders and transform them or you can ask the Pakistan President to send them to me in jail.

Thank You.
Swami Asimananda
Yours truly
Chanchalaguda Central Jail
WSurprise reform
Hyderabad

Download this letter (PDF, 4.14MB)

 

The President,
Islamabad,
Pakistan
Dec 20,2010

SUB Request for chance to reform Hafiz Saeed and other terrorists in Pakistan — re,

Dear Sir,

1. I am Swami Asimananda. I am the one who had organised and motivated persons to blast Samjhauta Express and other places because I was angry about jihadi attacks on Hindu temples.

2. After my arrest, when I was in jail, one Muslim boy Kaleem was very kind to me in Hyderabad. After some time, I asked him why he was inside jail, and he told me that he was earlier wrongly arrested and tortured by Hyderabad Police in connection with Mecca Masjid Bomb blast. This pierced my conscience. It transformed me. The man who has very reason to hate me, showed me love. After all, he had been made to suffer for my work. I understood that love between two human beings is more powerful than the hatred between two communities. I decided on prayaschith and told this to the CBI when they took me in their custody. They told me that we cannot do anything about prayaschith, only court can. So, I told them to take me to the court in that case. After that, I told the judge the truth.

3. Before the criminal legal system hangs me, I want an opportunity to transform/reform Hafiz Saeed, Mullah Omar and other jihadi terrorist leaders and jihadi terrorist in Pakistan. Either you can send them to me, or you can ask the Indian government to send me to you.

Yours truly
Swami Asimananda
Chanchalaguda Jail
Hyderabad

Download this letter (PDF, 4.73MB)


ashish.khetan@tehelka.com

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