Ajmer blast case: 13 witnesses turned hostile in 6 months

Jaipur: In a major blow to the NIA’s Ajmer blast trial, 13 crucial prosecution witnesses in the 2007 Ajmer dargah blast case have now turned hostile and gone back on their testimonies.

A bomb blast in the Dargah of Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer in October 2007 killed three and wounded more than a dozen.

The Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) and afterward the NIA chargesheeted 12 people who were present and former members of the RSS, or belonging to radical groups.

This same group is accused of what came to be known as “Saffron Terror” bombings through 2007, setting off fatal explosions in Muslim-dominated areas like the Ajmer Dargah, the town of Malegaon and the Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad.

“The whole case of the prosecution depended upon these star witnesses,” said Ashwini Sharma, the assistant public prosecutor of the Ajmer blast case. “And all those who gave the statement, under Section 164 (of the Code of Criminal Procedure), in front of the magistrate, all turned hostile in court.”

Their statements were recorder in before a judicial magistrate to make sure there is no pressure from investigators.

Mr Sharma told NDTV that he “had asked every single witness if they had ever complained to the court that the ATS had pressurised them. They said that they had never got an opportunity to complain to anyone.”
Randheer Singh, RSS loyalist and now Jharkhand minister in BJP government, gone back on his statement.

“Originally Singh had said that the accused test-fired a revolver, but in court he denied making such a statement,” said Mr Kumar.

On May 6, 2015, Singh turned hostile in court: “ATS pressurised me. Met Devendra Gupta only at RSS baithaks. I do not know Mahendra and Manoj.”

All 13 witnesses were either RSS workers or functionaries, according to Mr Kumar, who examined them in court.

“The testimonies of those who have turned hostile would have made for a watertight case. Despite tough cross-questioning, they refused to admit in court what they had once told the ATS or the magistrate. This considerably shakes the ground of the case,” Sharma said.

Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian last month told that she had been under pressure from the NIA to go “soft” in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case from the time “the new government came to power”.