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Samjhauta blast case: Special NIA court defers verdict till March 14

Samjhauta blast case: Special NIA court defers verdict till March 14

The Panchkula special NIA court was supposed to declare its verdict on Swami Aseemanand and others today, but the hearing has now been deferred till March 14.

Explosion in two coaches of Paksitan-bound Samjhauta Express had killed 68 passengers. Photo credit: India Today Explosion in two coaches of Paksitan-bound Samjhauta Express had killed 68 passengers. Photo credit: India Today

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Panchkula has deferred its judgement on the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case on Monday. The verdict on Swami Aseemanand and the other accused in the case will now be declared on March 14. The decision was taken after a Pakistani woman filed a petition claiming that she has evidence relevant to the case, reports suggest.

The petition was filed by an advocate on the behalf of one Rahila L Vakeel, NIA counsel Rajan Malhotra told PTI. Earlier, the court had reserved its verdict for March 11 after the cross examination in the matter on March 6.

On February 18, 2007, explosion in two coaches of Samjhauta Express had killed 68 people as the bi-weekly train was on its way to Pakistan. The blast happened as it was passing from Diwani village near Panipat in Haryana to reach Attari station. Reports suggest that most of the deceased were from Pakistan. The culprits used improvised explosive devices inside two suitcases.

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 named individuals in chargesheet filed on June 20, 2011. The accused include Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary, who appeared in the court today. The chargesheet also named Sunil Joshi, the alleged mastermind behind the blast, who was murdered in December 2007.

The NIA chargesheet also named Sandeep Dange, Ramachandra Kalasangra and Amit. These three are still at large and have been declared proclaimed offenders. These eight accused have been charged under sections of Indian Penal Code related to murder, attempted murder and criminal conspiracy, Explosive Substances Act, and Railways Act.

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.

The cross examination in the Samjhauta blast case has been completed by both parties. Hundreds of witnesses were listed in the case, with many of them turning hostile. The special NIA court had even summoned 13 Pakistani nationals to testify in the case, but they failed to appear. After hearing both sides, the court reserved its decision till March 11.

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