Samjhauta blast: NIA court acquits Aseemanand

Last Updated 20 March 2019, 17:43 IST

After 12 years of intense probe and trial, the Samjhauta Express blast case finally fell flat on Wednesday after the special NIA court in Panchkula near here acquitted former RSS activist Swami Aseemanand and three others of all charges.

As many as 68 people, mostly Pakistani nationals, were killed in the blast at the Diwana railway station in Panipat in Haryana on February 18, 2007.

Defence counsel Mukesh Garg said the judge held that the “prosecution failed to prove its case, therefore all the accused are acquitted”.

Aseemanand and the other accused — Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder — were present in the courtroom on Wednesday. Aseemanand folded hands in gratitude to his well-wishers after the verdict.

He has been acquitted in the Mecca Masjid blast case and Ajmer Dargah blast case as well.

In 2007, two of the four IEDs planted in two compartments of the Samjhauta Express went off in Panipat after the train left from Delhi for Attari border. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), among other sections, had charged the accused with murder and criminal conspiracy, which could not be proved.

The order came after NIA judge Jagdeep Singh, earlier during the day, dismissed the petition of a Pakistani woman, Rahila Wakil, seeking to depose as a witness in the case after the trial had concluded.

NIA counsel R K Handa said the probe agency got into the act three years after the blast. “At that stage, it was a difficult investigation. Despite all that, we unearthed the conspiracy. But some of the link evidence did not support and turned hostile,” Handa said.

The first chargesheet was filed in the case in June 2011. The Haryana police had initially registered the FIR, but the Ministry of Home Affairs subsequently transferred the probe to the NIA in July 2010. Of the eight people named by the NIA, blast mastermind Sunil Joshi was killed in December 2007 while three other accused could not be arrested and were declared proclaimed offenders.

The probe agency had maintained that the accused were unhappy with the terror attacks on Hindu temples and offered a theory of “bomb ka badla bomb”. The accused were given training in Madhya Pradesh and Faridabad for making bombs and firing pistols, it was claimed.

(Published 20 March 2019, 12:37 IST)

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