Published On: Thu, Mar 21st, 2019
Published in Category: International

Samjhauta Express bombing case: RSS activist Swami Aseemanand, three others acquitted

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NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in India’s Haryana state on Wednesday acquitted all four accused including prime accused Swami Aseemanand, in the Samjhauta Express bombing case.

At least 68 people, 42 of whom were Pakistani passengers, were killed in the attack on Samjhauta Express on February 18, 2007. The train was on its way to Lahore from New Delhi.

Investigators had concluded that terrorists had used improved explosive devices and inflammable substances for the blasts and the fire in two coaches of the train near Panipat in Haryana, according to the “Hindustan Times”. Two unexploded suitcase bombs were found in other compartments of the train.

Swami Aseemanand, a self-proclaimed monk and a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist, is known to have worked to convert people to Hinduism.

According to “The Hindu”, Aseemanand had confessed to his involvement in bombings at various worship places across the country, such as Ajmer Sharif and Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, and in Malegaon for taking revenge against the “terror acts of Muslims.”

However, he later told a court investigating the 2007 Samjhauta train blast case that the Indian investigation agency “tortured” and “put pressure on him to give wrong statements.”

In addition, an application filed on March 11 by Pakistani resident, Rahila Wakil, was dismissed by the court. The application had sought permission for out-of-court testimonies of Pakistani witnesses in the case.

“The NIA Special Court has concluded that the investigating agency has failed to prove the conspiracy charge and ruled that [the] accused deserve a benefit of

[the]

doubt,” “The Indian Express” quoted NIA Counsel RK Handa as saying.

According to “NDTV”, Haryana police had registered a case, but the probe was handed over to the National Investigation Agency in July 2010, which then filed a charge sheet in June 2011 after conducting a probe, indicting eight individuals.

NIA’s probe came to the conclusion that the accused were upset with previous attacks on Hindu temples — Gujarat’s Akshardham, Jammu’s Raghunath Mandir, and Varanasi’s Sankat Mochan Mandir — and had conspired to target the Pakistan-bound train as revenge, according to “NDTV”.

“The accused had conspired and propounded a theory of ‘bomb ka badla bomb’ (a bomb for a bomb),” “NDTV” quoted the NIA as stating in the charge sheet.

The accused include Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, and Rajinder Chaudhary, all of whom appeared before the court.

Sunil Joshi, the alleged mastermind of the attack, was killed in December 2007, according to “The Indian Express” and “Times of India”.

The remaining three accused, namely Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange, and Amit, continue to be at large and have been declared as proclaimed offenders, “The Indian Express” reported.

The trial first began in 2010 at the Panchkula NIA court and over the course of the proceedings, around 224 witnesses of the total 299 have all testified before the court, the publication further stated.

The Samjhota Express, also known as the Attari Express, runs between Delhi and Attari in India and Delhi and Lahore in Pakistan, on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Meanwhile the Acting Foreign Secretary summoned the Indian High Commissioner on Wednesday to lodge Pakistan’s strong protest and condemnations against the acquittal of all four accused, including Swami Aseemanand, (the main perpetrator, activist of the Hindu terrorist organization RSS) in the Samjhauta Terror Attacks by the Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court.

The Acting Foreign Secretary stressed that Pakistan had consistently raised the lack of progress and the subsequent, concerted attempts by India to exonerate the perpetrators of this heinous terrorist act in which 44 innocent Pakistanis lost their lives. The issue was raised repeatedly, including at the sidelines of the Senior Officials, Heart of Asia Meeting in 2016. Formal demarches were also lodged regularly with India on the lack of progress and acquittal of the accused in other cases.

The acquittal of the accused on Wednesday, 11 years after the heinous Samjhauta Terror Attacks makes a travesty of justice and exposes the sham credibility of the Indian Courts. It also belies the rampant Indian duplicity and hypocrisy where India reflexively levels allegations of terrorism against Pakistan, while protecting with impunity, terrorists who had publicly confessed to their odious crimes.

The Acting Foreign Secretary emphasized that the systemic Indian decision to gradually exonerate and finally acquit the perpetrators, is not only a gross reflection of India’s callous insensitivity to the plight of the 44 families of the deceased Pakistanis, who hoped that India would but also reflective of the Indian state policy of promoting and protecting Hindu terrorists. He called upon India to explore judicial remedies to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.


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