–India court says suspects free to go as investigation agency failed to prove charges
–Pakistan summons Indian HC, lodges strong protest over acquittal of suspects
An India special court on Wednesday acquitted four suspects, including Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, on the basis of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) failure to produce evidence to prove their role in the train bombing that had left 68 people dead, including 42 Pakistani citizens.
The decision to release the suspect didn’t go down well with Pakistan, which summoned Indian high commissioner in Islamabad to record its protest against the decision.
Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said over 42 Pakistani nationals were martyred in the terrorist attack”. Justice should be served in the case to the families of the victims seeking closure, he urged.
FOUR GO SCOT-FREE:
At least 68 people – 42 of them Pakistani passengers – were killed in the attack on the bi-weekly train, connecting Delhi and Attari at India-Pakistan border in Punjab, on the night of 18 February 2007.
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. Two unexploded suitcase bombs were found in other compartments of the train.
According to the Indian Express report, the court however concluded that the investigating agency failed to prove the conspiracy charge and the accused ‘deserved a benefit of doubt’.
The NIA, which had taken over the probe in 2011 along with six other cases where Hindu extremists were alleged to be involved, had accused eight people of involvement in the Samjhauta blasts. Investigators had then said a former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, who was accused to have plotted the attack, was shot dead by his associates in December 2007.
Swami Aseemanand has already been cleared by courts of terror charges in these cases over the last two years.
The Samjhauta blast case was the only pending case against the 67-year-old preacher who had once been accused by the federal anti-terror probe agency, NIA, of conspiracy in 2007 bombings at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and Rajasthan’s Ajmer Dargah.
The Indian court had reserved its order on the case and adjourned the hearing following the plea of a Pakistani woman to have her statement recorded.
Rahila Vakeel, a resident of Hafizabad and the daughter of Muhammad Vakeel who had gone missing during the incident, in her petition claimed that she had evidence relevant to the case, the Times of India (TOI) reported. However, Rahila said that she has not yet received a visa nor a call or a summon.
The final arguments in the case were concluded on March 6 and the judgement was reserved for March 11.
In February 2007, alleged Hindu extremists had bombed the Samjhota Express killing 68 people, 42 of whom were Pakistanis. The train was near Panipat and was heading towards Lahore from New Delhi when it was attacked.
The NIA in its charge sheet had named eight people as accused. Sunil Joshi, the alleged mastermind of the attack, was killed in December 2007.