Bhavesh Patel appears before NIA; repeats allegations

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Bavesh Patel

JAIPUR, September 27: Ajmer dargah blast accused Bhavesh Patel, who sparked off a controversy earlier this week by accusing Congress leaders, including Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, of pressuring him to name RSS functionaries in the case, appeared in a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court here on Thursday and reiterated his allegations, even as Mr. Shinde called his allegations “baseless”.

Patel said he was forced to state that he had engineered the blast on the instructions of RSS leaders.

Patel had earlier sent a handwritten letter to the court alleging that he was made to meet Mr. Shinde, the Home Minister’s deputy R.P.N. Singh, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh who put pressure on him to implicate RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and another top functionary Indresh Kumar in the case.

Patel is accused of having provided logistics support to those who carried out an explosion inside the famous 13th century shrine during Ramzan on October 11, 2007.

The NIA court took Bhavesh’s letter on record and asked the premier investigating agency to file its reply to his allegations.

Mr. Shinde and Mr. R.P.N. Singh have denied having ever met the accused. Mr. Shinde said in New Delhi on Wednesday that he did not know any Bhavesh Patel. “If someone takes my name, what can I do?” he said.

The court posted the case for further hearing on October 3 and gave directions to the NIA and jail authorities to lodge Patel in the Jaipur Central Jail till then. Patel was earlier shifted to the Alwar jail, after which went on a hunger strike and had to be admitted to Sawai Man Singh Hospital here, from where he sent the five-page letter to the court.

Bhavesh’s counsel B. S. Chauhan said he was produced in the court on the direction of the judge, who had earlier read his letter – submitted in a sealed cover – and found it necessary to summon him in order to confirm that he understood the contents and had indeed made the “serious allegations”.

The court has framed charges against seven accused, including Swami Aseemanand who is considered a key figure in the Hindutva terror network, while holding them responsible for the deaths of three persons and injuries caused to 17 others in the blast.

The charges against Patel and two others are yet to be framed.

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