A special National Investigation Agency court on Wednesday awarded life sentences to two convicts in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blasts case – Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel. Gupta and Patel, along with late right-wing activist Sunil Joshi, were convicted on March 8 for conspiracy, planting bombs and inciting religious sentiments.
Patel and Gupta had earlier been fined Rs 1 lakh each. Joshi was shot dead by two motorbike-borne men on December 29, 2007, in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.
The court had acquitted former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist Swami Aseemanand and six others at the same time. Aseemanand was the key accused in the case. Three of the 13 accused in the case are absconding.
On October 11, 2007, a timed-bomb had ripped through the dargah of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. The explosion, in which 17 were injured besides those killed, had taken place in the month of Ramzan during iftaar when around 5,000 devotees were gathered at the dargah to break their fast. Investigations had found that Hindu groups were behind the blast.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had arrested Aseemanand in November 2010, three years after the blast, and handed him over to the NIA the next month. He had confessed to being involved in bombings at a number of Muslim places of worship along with other Hindu activists, but later said he had been under pressure from investigative agencies to make the statement.
The former RSS activist is an accused in the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and 2006 Malegaon blast cases, as well.