Days after Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian dropped a bombshell that she had been pressurised by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go “soft” in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, it now emerges that as many as 14 key witnesses in Ajmer Dargah blasts have turned hostile.
According to a report in Indian Express, all of these witnesses- Randhir Singh, Rohit Kumar Jha, Bhanu Singh, Sonu Pandey, Vishnu Patidar, Swapnil Joshi, Ishan Chawla, Vinod Kumar Shav, Parimal Pal, Gautam Pal, Vimal Pal, Sugandhi Devi, Govardhan Singh and Hari Narayan — are either active RSS workers or sympathise with the Sangh ideologies in some wAy or the other.
The paper also informs that one of these witnesses, Randhir Singh, an RSS loyalist, is now a minister in Jharkhand’s BJP government.
Some of these witnesses had even recorded their testimonies before a magistrate under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in 2010. Others did so before Anti Terrorist Squad.
Public Prosecutor Ashwini Sharma was quoted as saying, “These 14 witnesses who have turned hostile since the hearings in June 2014 were all key witnesses who had recorded their statements before the magistrate under Section 164 (of the Code of Criminal Procedure).”
Sahrma added that the testimonies of those who have turned hostile would now considerably weaken the case.
In October 2007, a bomb blast in the holy Ajmer Dargah had killed three and wounded more than a dozen. The case was handed to the NIA, which chargesheeted 12 people who were both present and former members of the RSS Sangh sympathisers.
The Ajmer blast investigation became controversial ever since the chargesheet had named Indresh Kumar, National Executive Council member of the RSS, as a part of the conspiracy. The latest spate of witnesses turning hostile is only likely to give credence to what Rohini Salian said last week and trigger more controversy around ‘saffron terror.’