Commendable job

Commendable job

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has done well to complete its investigation in the Samjhauta Express blast case in short time and file a chargesheet in a special court in Panchkula in Haryana against five accused. The blast, which occurred in the biweekly train between India and Pakistan at Panipat  in 2007, had resulted in the death of 68 passengers, including 43 Pakistani citizens. The chargesheet should help to counter the criticism that India was slow in investigating the terrorist act which was mainly directed at Pakistani citizens. It should also put pressure on Pakistan to ensure that the trial of those accused of plotting and planning the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, now going on in Pakistan, is expedited. The trial has not made any significant progress in that country. The issue is sure to come up at the foreign secretary-level talks between the two countries starting on Thursday.

The chargesheet has pointed out the links between members of the majority community and terrorist activities. In fact all those named as accused in the chargesheet, including the kingpin Swami Aseemanad and four others, are from the dominant community. It is likely that another Hindu activist, Sadhvi Pragya, will also be arrested soon. The chargesheet has claimed that Hindus, and not  Muslims, were behind the acts of terrorism at Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif, Hyderabad and Panipat.  Many members of the minority community had been arrested on the basis of suspicion for these attacks. The investigating agency deserves congratulations for preventing a miscarriage of justice and exposing the role of Hindu extremists in the attacks. The accused are members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which has disclaimed any responsibility for the attacks. But the charges against them cast a shadow over the organisation, because a number of its office-bearers are seen as advocating a bomb for bomb culture and resorting to violence. Not everybody will agree that they were all only individually responsible for their alleged actions of terrorism. In organisations where discipline is paramount, it is difficult to separate individual from collective responsibility.

Swami Aseemanand had confessed his role but the NIA needs to produce hard evidence to support its case. Among the accused one was killed under mysterious circumstances and two are absconding. The NIA took over the case in July last year.  While the investigation was expeditious, the prosecution has to be equally efficient.  The culprits should be brought to book earliest.

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