ONE MORNING IN FEBRUARY LAST YEAR, I noticed that I had missed a call from Vishal Garg, the investigating officer in the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings case. I returned the call promptly, but no one answered. That evening, I received a text message: “Hello Leenaji this is Vishal Garg from NIA.” Garg went on to ask, over text, whether I could meet him at his office with the tapes from my interviews with Swami Aseemanand, the key accused in the Samjhauta case.
Excerpts and transcriptions of these audio recordings had just gone live on the Caravan website, following the publication of my profile of Aseemanand earlier that month. The tapes included his statements that Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, as well as Indresh Kumar, who is now a member of the organisation’s powerful all-India executive council, had given their blessings to carry out the multiple bomb attacks of which Aseemanand stood accused. I had interviewed Garg in the course of reporting the story.
My editors and I consulted the magazine’s lawyers, then sent Garg a reply saying that we would be happy to pass on a copy of the tapes to him. We also sent a registered letter to him at the National Investigation Agency office, adding that we would be more than willing to assist in their investigation in any way that they needed. We received no response; no one ever came to pick up the tapes.