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NIA court acquits Assemanand, 3 others in 2007 Samjhauta blast case

All accused - Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary have been acquitted in the case. 

NIA court acquits Assemanand, 3 others in 2007 Samjhauta blast case
ANI photo

New Delhi: A Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Panchkula on Wednesday acquitted all four accused — Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary in the 2007 Samjhauta blast case. 

The Special NIA court was to deliver its verdict on the 2007 Samjhauta Blast case on March 11. However, it deferred its judgement after a Pakistani national filed an application for directions for examining of the blast eyewitnesses from Pakistan. The court listed the application of Pakistani woman Rahila Wakeel for hearing on March 14.

Wakeel is the daughter of blast victim Muhammad Wakeel of Dhingrawali village in Hafizabad district of Pakistan. She filed the application through her Indian counsel Momin Malik, who told the court that he received his client's application through e-mail.

The woman sought examination of the blast eyewitnesses from her country, contending that her co-nationals either did not receive proper summonses from the court or were denied visas by authorities to appear before it. "The eyewitnesses/Pakistani witnesses do not have any knowledge about the ongoing stage of the trial because no proper summons were served to them,? she said in her plea, filed after lunch break. She pleaded that all eyewitnesses to the case from her country were ready to appear before the court for their depositions and they should be examined in the interest of justice.

Special Judge Singh asked petitioner's counsel why the plea was made at the fag end of the trial, reminding him that several chances were given to all the 13 Pakistani witnesses to record their statements before the court.

Wakeel's counsel Malik, however, reiterated the stand of his client.

The blast in Samjhauta Express occurred near Panipat in Haryana on February 18, 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 Samjhauta Express.

The NIA filed a chargesheet in the case in June 2011 and indicted eight persons for their alleged roles in the terror attack. Of the eight persons, Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary appeared before the court and faced trial.

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

Aseemanand is out on bail while three others are still in judicial custody.

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). The chargesheet said that the accused had conspired together to trigger the blast in the Pak-bound train, largely carrying Pakistani nationals, to avenge the spate of terror attacks in various temples of the country, it contended.

(With PTI inputs)