Samjhauta Express Blast Verdict Today: A Timeline of Events
A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Panchkula is all set to pronounce its verdict in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case on Monday, 11 March.
The verdict would come more than 12 years after the blast took place on 18 February 2007 on the train connecting India and Pakistan, leading to the deaths of 68 people.
The protracted investigation and trial in the case has witnessed many twists and turns, and with the verdict set to come out on Monday, here is a brief look at all that’s happened:
18 February 2007: 68 Killed
On 18 February 2007, bombs went off in two coaches of the train connecting Delhi and Lahore, close to the Dewana railway station in Haryana's Panipat district while on its way to Attari on the Indo-Pak border. Sixty-eight people died in the blasts, most of them said to be Pakistani nationals.
20 Febuary 2007: SIT Formed
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted by the Haryana Police on 20 February 2007 to probe the case.
29 July 2010: NIA Takes Over
Three years later, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was given charge of the case.
20 June 2011: Charge Sheet Filed by NIA
In June 2011, a charge sheet was filed by the NIA in the case, naming Swami Aseemanand, a right-wing activist, and four others – namely, Lokesh Sharma, Sunil Joshi, Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalasangra alias Ramji. The five were accused of murder and criminal conspiracy under the Explosive Substance Act, Railways Act and others. The charge sheet, The Tribune reported, said that the train was targeted as Pakistani Muslims used to travel by it.
Trial Involved 290 Witnesses
The trial had involved more than 290 witnesses, of which several Pakistani nationals have not appeared, and around 30 have since turned hostile.
Verdict on 11 March 2019
With the completion of the arguments from both the sides in the case, the special NIA court is all set to pronounce the verdict on Monday, more than 12 years after the blasts took place.
Bumps in the Investigation
Notably, among the accused, while Sunil Joshi was found murdered in 2007 in Madhya Pradesh's Dewas, Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalasangra are still untreacable.
Meanwhile, the defence has accused the investigation agencies of using coercive measures to get a confession out of the accused, who they say have been falsely implicated.
Swami Aseemanand Linked to Other Bombings Too
Notably, the year of the Samjhauta Express blasts – 2007 – was also the one when several other high-profile bombings took place, including the Ajmer Dargah bombing in the month of October and the Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad in May. Swami Aseemanand was an accused in both the Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer blast cases. However, he was acquitted in both the cases.
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