The Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Panchkula acquitted four accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case which had claimed the lives of around 68 people. Among four accused who have been acquitted by the court today are Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, and Rajinder Chaudhary.
Samjhauta Blast Case: All four accused -Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary have been acquitted by Special NIA Court in Panchkula pic.twitter.com/9urDpWm87r
— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2019
The Special NIA court also dismissed the petition filed by a Pakistani National Rahila Wakil to be summoned as a witness in the case. NIA special judge Jagdeep Singh stated that the Pakistani woman’s petition was devoid of any merit.
#SamjhautaBlast case | “The NIA Special Court has concluded that the investigating agency has failed to prove the conspiracy charge and ruled that accused deserve a benefit of doubt,” NIA Counsel RK Handa said. pic.twitter.com/nlmZuCb6sy
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) March 20, 2019
The court said that the agency failed to prove the conspiracy and therefore the accused deserve a benefit of doubt.
Petitioner Wakil is the daughter Mohammad Wakil who was a victim of the blast. She had filed the application through her Indian counsel Momin Malik.
“The eyewitnesses/Pakistani witnesses do not have any knowledge about the ongoing stage of the trial because no proper summons was served to them”, she had reportedly contended in her plea. The NIA Special Judge Jagdeep Singh questioned the petitioner as to why the plea was made at almost the end of the trial while several opportunities were given to all the 13 Pakistani witnesses to record their statements before the court.
One of the accused Sunil Joshi was killed in December 2007. Around 224 witnesses have deposed before the court in the case which has been going on since 2010.
Samjhauta Express was started between India and Pakistan on July 22, 1976, after the Shimla agreement. In 2007, a blast occurred in the Samjhauta Express near Panipat, Haryana which blew up two coaches of the train and killed 68 people in which 43 were Pakistani nationals.
It is notable here that Swami Aseemanand, Rajendra Choudhary, and Lokesh Sharma were also accused by the CBI and subsequently NIA in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case. They were acquitted by an NIA court in Hyderabad last year.
Even in the Samjhauta Express blast case, though LeT was initially blamed and a Pakistani national Asif Qasmani was named as the main accused, the proceedings of the case took a surprising turn when RSS activists Swami Aseemanand and others were blamed. After an expose by Times Now claimed that the UPA government might have let the Pakistani suspects go and pinned the blame on RSS, the BJP had stated that it was another attempt by the then UPA government to further their Hindu-terror agenda.