The confessional statement of arrested Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member Swami Aseemanand, linked to various blasts, has created a stir, even as the investigating agencies claim it will help their investigation.
Swami Aseemanand, who hails from Hooghly district in West Bengal, originally goes by the name Jatin Chatterjee and was also known as Swami Onkarnath in his circles.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, during Aseemanand's interrogation, found that his mindset changed as he felt there were too many atrocities being carried out against Hindus by Pakistan-based terror groups, which he felt should be retaliated.
The CBI now links Aseemanand to the Malegaon, Ajmer, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta blasts cases.
His confession, recorded by the magistrate -- and in which the godman explains in detail the modus operandi behind these operations -- is what the CBI has pinned its hopes on.
While a confessional statement is admissible as evidence in a court of law, the job of the investigating agency does not end there and they will still have to prove their case.
In addition, various courts are seeing arguments over whether an accused can retract a confessional statement given before a magistrate.
Aseemanand, in his confession, says that it was the attack on Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad which changed his mind and it was also precisely the time when a lot of people came together and decided that the moment had come to retaliate.
"During my various meetings with people I expressed my anger against the attacks on temples and it was in 2003 that for the first time I came in contact with Sunil Joshi and Pragya Singh Thakur (other accused)," Assemanand has mentioned in his confession.
"We discussed many times about the manner in which Islamic terrorists carried out attacks on temples and people. It was only in 2006, when the Sankatmochan temple (in Varanasi) was attacked, that Joshi decided that the time had come to hit back," he added.
Investigations so far have shown that Joshi was given Rs 25,000 by Aseemanand to carry out an attack.
"In June 2006, Sadhvi, Joshi and I met at a house in Valsad (Gujarat) and chalked out the plan. During the meeting four others -- Dange, Lokesh, Kalsanghra and Amit -- came along with Joshi. During the meeting we decided on the targets and I had told all of them that a bombing should be retaliated with another bombing. We then decided to target Malegaon which had a strong Muslim population. In addition to this, we also decided that we would carry out attacks at Mecca Masjid since many people in Hyderabad subscribed to the views of Pakistan. Then we also planned the Ajmer blasts as we felt that many Hindus visited this place and a bombing would prevent them from going there in future," he told interrogators.
"While I suggested these targets, it was Joshi who came up with the plan of carrying out a blast on the Samjhauta Express. His view was that many Pakistanis travel by that train and it would be the best way to take revenge against Pakistan and hence an attack should be carried out. There was a consensus at that meeting and we decided to go ahead," he added.
"Following this meeting three teams were formed to execute these attacks. One of the teams was designated the task of arranging finances while the other two were asked to execute the attack and also make arrangements for the explosives. In so far as the Samjhauta blasts were concerned, it was Dange who made these arrangements," Assemanand confessed.
Investigating agencies say the role played by these persons in the Malegaon, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts is quite clear. However, the details are not too forthcoming with the Samjhauta case which is presently being investigated by the National Investigative Agency.
It was godman Dayananand Pandey who for the first time spilt the beans on this case and said it was the same people who had carried out the Samjautha blasts.
In addition to this, the Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad too had claimed that Colonel Purohit had procured 60 kg of RDX for these blasts, but till date no investigating agency has been able to prove the fact.
Aseemanand went on to say that in February 2007, he met Joshi at a temple in Balpur. "At that meeting he (Joshi) told me that some important news would break out in the next couple of days. A few days later I read in the newspapers that the Samjhauta blasts had taken place and later Joshi told me that it was his men who carried out the attack. Later on, I gave Joshi some money for the Mecca Masjid blasts and this too was executed as was planned," Aseemanand said.
The CBI's investigation of Aseemanand may have revealed a lot of facts, but it continues to remain unclear as to how Colonel Purohit was involved in this case. It is now up to the NIA to investigate this aspect and they would question both Aseemanand and Purohit in this regard.
Aseemanand told the CBI that he first came in contact with Purohit, who was part of Abhinav Bharat, four years back and during the various meetings with him they discussed carrying out terror strikes.
The NIA now has its task cut out. Sources say that apart from investigating the Aseemanand angle to the Samjhauta blasts, it would also look into a possible role that he could have played even in the Goa blasts.