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Samjhauta Express bombing case: NIA court in Panchkula acquits all four key accused, cites lack of sufficient evidence

All four accused persons in the 2007 Samjhauta train bombing case, Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary, were acquitted Wednesday by a special NIA Court in Panchkula.

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

This development came shortly after the court dismissed an application seeking permission for deposition of Pakistani witnesses in the Samjhauta blast case. The application was filed by a Pakistan resident Rahila Wakil on 11 March through advocate Momin Malik, The Indian Express reported.

 Samjhauta Express bombing case: NIA court in Panchkula acquits all four key accused, cites lack of sufficient evidence

File image of Samjhauta Express after the blasts. Reuters

The blast in Samjhauta Express occurred near Panipat in Haryana on 18 February, 2007, when the train was on its way to Attari in Amritsar, the last railway station on the Indian side. The blast had ripped apart two coaches of the cross-border train, killing 68, mostly Pakistani nationals.

The Haryana police had registered a case, but the probe was handed over to the NIA in July 2010. After its probe, the NIA filed a charge sheet in the case in June 2011 against eight persons for their alleged roles in the terror attack. The four aforementioned appeared before the court.

Meanwhile, the mastermind of the attack, Sunil Joshi, was shot dead near his home in Madhya Pradesh's Dewas district in December 2007, while three other accused — Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange and Amit — could never be apprehended and were declared proclaimed offenders.

The NIA had charged the accused with murder and criminal conspiracy, besides other relevant provisions of the Explosive Substances Act and the Railways Act.

In its probe, the NIA had concluded that the accused were upset with the terror attacks on Hindu temples — Akshardham (Gujarat), Raghunath Mandir (Jammu) and Sankat Mochan Mandir (Varanasi). They had conspired together to trigger the blast in the Pakistan-bound train, largely carrying nationals of the neighbouring country, to avenge the spate of terror attacks in various temples of the country, it contended.

In its chargesheet, the NIA had also said that the accused had conspired and propounded a theory of "bomb ka badla bomb". As per the NIA probe, the accused were given training in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana for making bombs and using pistols.

The NIA chargesheet had dubbed Sunil Joshi as the mastermind of the blast with the active help of the other accused, including Aseemanand. Explosives were stuffed in suitcases, which were planted in the train by Lokesh, Rajinder, Kamal and Amit, as per the NIA charge sheet.

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Updated Date: Mar 20, 2019 18:27:45 IST

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