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NIA Court Defers Verdict in Samjhauta Express Blast Case After Pak Woman Files Petition

The plea claims that most of the eyewitnesses of the blast were Pakistani nationals but were not summoned by the court and not granted visas to testify in the case.

Updated:March 12, 2019, 12:32 PM IST
New Delhi: A National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Panchkula, which was set to pronounce the Samjhauta Express blast verdict, has pushed the hearing to March 14.

The verdict was deferred after a Pakistani woman approached the court and filed a petition, seeking to present new evidence in the 12-year-old case. Earlier, the court had reserved its verdict for March 11 after the cross examination in the matter on March 6.

The Pakistani petitioner told the court that her father was among those killed in the blast. The plea claims that most of the eyewitnesses of the blast were Pakistani nationals but were not summoned by the court.

It further stated that the witnesses were ready to appear before the court but were not granted visas to testify. “… without the evidence, the victims will suffer an irreparable loss,” reads the petition.

On February 18, 2007, explosion in two coaches of Samjhauta blast killed 68 people on its way to Pakistan. The blast happened as it was passing from Diwani village near Panipat in Haryana. Reports suggest that most of the deceased were from Pakistan.

The NIA in its chargesheet said the act was committed using IEDs and inflammable substances, which caused blasts and fire in two coaches of the train in Haryana on the night of February 18, 2007. Two unexploded suitcase bombs were found in other compartments of the train.

In its charge sheet, the NIA has named eight persons as the accused. Only four — Naba Kumar Sarkar, or Swami Aseemanand (out on bail), Lokesh Sharma (in judicial custody), Kamal Chauhan (in judicial custody) and Rajinder Chaudhary (in judicial custody) — appeared before the court on Monday when the verdict was supposed to be pronounced.

The case was initially probed by a special investigation team, but was later taken over by the NIA in July 2010. The agency had named five individuals in chargesheet filed on June 20, 2011, namely Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange, Ramachandra Kalasangra and Sunil Joshi. They had been charged under sections of Indian Penal Code related to murder, attempted murder and criminal conspiracy, Explosive Substances Act, and Railways Act. Sunil Joshi was murdered in December 2007.

Aseemanand, who has been out on bail since December 2016, had allegedly confessed in 2010 that he and other right-wing activists were behind explosions at several places of worship. But he withdrew his confession, claiming that he gave the statement under duress.

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