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Pakistani Woman’s Last-Minute Plea Defers Samjhauta Blast Verdict

The petition was filed by an advocate on behalf of Rahila L Vakeel, NIA counsel Rajan Malhotra said.

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India
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The pronouncement of the verdict in 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case was unexpectedly put off by a special NIA court on Monday, 11 March, after a Pakistani woman filed a petition claiming she had evidence relevant to the case.

The petition was filed by an advocate on behalf of Rahila L Vakeel, National Investigation Agency (NIA) counsel Rajan Malhotra said.

The plea filed by the Pakistani woman, whose father was one of the victims of the bomb blast, said that the Pakistani eyewitnesses want to appear before the NIA court for their evidence, but no summons have been received from the court in regard to the case.

The petition was filed by an advocate on behalf of Rahila L Vakeel, NIA counsel Rajan Malhotra said.
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These eyewitnesses did not have any knowledge about the ongoing stage of the case as no proper summons were served to them, the application stated.

In light of the developments, the court asked the NIA to file a reply, with judge Jagdeep Singh posting the matter for 14 March.

Earlier, the final arguments in this case were concluded on 6 March and the verdict was reserved for 11 March.

Sixty-eight people, mostly Pakistan nationals, were charred to death in the blasts in two coaches of the Samjhauta Express near Panipat on 18 February 2007.

The NIA in its charge sheet had named eight persons as accused.

Among them are: Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, and Rajinder Chaudhary, who appeared before the court. Meanwhile, Sunil Joshi, the alleged mastermind of the attack, was killed in December 2007.

Three other accused – Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange and Amit – are still at large and have been declared proclaimed offenders.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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