The law moves on a case by case basis. This has tended to obscure the meaning of “Hindu terrorism”, a recent coinage involving individuals from outfits that owe allegiance to the idea of Hindu nationalism as distinct from Indian nationalism. Hindu nationalists believe in the idea of Hindus having a superior place in the country in relation to those of other faiths, India’s constitutional principles notwithstanding. This is not dissimilar from the thinking of, say, white supremacists in the US who have come to the fore with the rise of Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, Swami Aseemanand, a self-proclaimed monk and RSS “pracharak” of long standing, was acquitted in the 2007 Ajmer blast case by a special court.
Whether the National Investigation Agency will file an appeal will be watched with interest as Aseemanand has been linked to several high-profile terror cases in which the lives of Muslims were lost, including the Samjhauta Express case and Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid case. The man had earlier accepted several allegations against him related to “Hindu terror”, but has since recanted. His discharge in the Ajmer dargah case has apparently come as many prosecution witnesses turned hostile. This has coincided with the BJP assuming power at the Centre.
These developments should be seen in the backdrop of a senior Mumbai lawyer, Rohini Salian, who was the NIA prosecutor in the Malegaon blast case, alleging in strong media statements in 2015 that she had been asked by a NIA officer in New Delhi “to go soft” on the accused in this case. An accused who drew considerable attention in the Malegaon case was Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who was, incidentally, discharged last month in the case of the murder of Sunil Joshi, a fellow accused in the same case. The man, also an old RSS hand, was killed as it was thought he was about to spill the beans on the string of cases in which the targets were Muslims. He was alleged to have been involved in a number of them, some along with Aseemanand.
The use of the executive, using various methods, has been spoken of in the context of influencing criminal cases. Whether the existence of the present government at the Centre, in which the RSS has strong influence, has anything to do with the fortunate turn of events for Aseemanand and Sadhvi Pragya is a moot point. There is no proof whatsoever of this. It is noteworthy, however, that there was a spurt of cases in which terrorist blasts occurred in areas inhabited by the Muslim community and the accused had long associations with outfits of the Hindu Right. This too is a challenge to be tackled by a democratic India.