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Terror probe: NIA given custody of Swami Aseemanand

December 24, 2010 14:14 IST
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A local court in Panchkula, Haryana, on Friday remanded Swami Aseemanand, member of the right-wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat and accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case, to custody of the National Investigation Agency till January 3.

The NIA had brought Aseemanand, also accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, from Hyderabad and produced him in the Panchkula court on Thursday, which remanded him to one-day custody of the NIA as the judge of the designated court was on leave.

After expiry of his one-day custody, he was produced in the court of NIA Special Judge Ritu Garg who further remanded him to the agency's custody till January 3.

The hearing in the case took place in-camera, as NIA had already moved an application in this regard keeping in view the 'sensitivity' of the case.

In the court on Friday, the NIA sought further remand of the Swami to extensively question his role in the Samjhauta train blasts. Those providing legal

assistance to Assemanand told media persons outside the court that the Swami is prepared to extend full cooperation to police in its interrogation even as he denied his role in the blast.

The February 2007 blast in the Samjhauta Express in Haryana's Panipat district left 68 people dead. The CBI arrested Aseemanand on November 19 for his alleged involvement in the Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad in which nine persons were killed. He was earlier living under a fake identity in Haridwar and had also procured fake identity cards.

A post-graduate in Botany, Aseemanand, whose real name is Jatin Chatterjee, is a resident of Hooghly in West Bengal and came to the tribal-dominated Dangs district in south Gujarat in the late 1990s.

His name had also come up during the probe in the 2008 Malegaon blast when the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad recovered the number of the Swami's driver from Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, another Abhinav Bharat member and an accused arrested in that case.

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