A Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Panchkula, today, acquitted all the accused including the 67-year-old former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member Swami Aseemanand in the 12-year-old Samjhauta Express train blast case.
In this incident, 68 people – 42 of them Pakistani passengers – were killed in the attack when the bi-weekly train, connecting Delhi and Attari at India-Pakistan border in Punjab, on the night of 18 February 2007.
The main accused in the case Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary were present in the court when the verdict was announced and they were acquitted.
Before pronouncing th 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.
Before giving verdict, NIA special judge Jagdeep Singh dismissed the plea filed by a Pakistani national Rahila Wakeel for recording her statement.
“All the four accused, Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary have been acquitted by the court. The court ruled that the plea of the Pakistani national Rahila Wakeel was devoid of any merit,” said NIA counsel Rajan Malhotra.
Mukesh Garg, counsel for Aseemanand said that court has acquitted all the accused as the NIA was not able to prove the allegations. “The court has said that NIA has not been able to establish any charges against the accused and hence all accused are acquitted,” he said.
Arguments in the case had concluded on March 6 and the NIA court had said the verdict would be pronounced on March 11. Then it was deferred to March 14 and again the court had deferred the hearing in the case to March 18 due to a lawyers’ strike in Panchkula.
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, National Investigation Agency, of conspiracy in 2007 bombings at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and Rajasthan’s Ajmer Dargah.