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Accused Walk Free In Samjhauta Blast Verdict: All You Need to Know

The verdict comes 12 years after the blast took in the train connecting India and Pakistan, killing 68 people.

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Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

All the four accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case, including Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary, were acquitted by the special NIA court in Panchkula on Wednesday, 20 March.

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The verdict comes more than 12 years after the blast took place on 18 February, 2007 on the Samjhauta Express train connecting India and Pakistan, leading to the deaths of 68 people.

Earlier on Wednesday, the NIA court had dismissed an application filed by Pakistani woman Rahila Wakil in connection with the case.

But, what is the case? Who are the accused? What did the investigations reveal? Here’s a brief explainer.

What is the Case?

On 18 February, 2007, blasts went off in the Samjhauta train - which runs between Delhi, India and Lahore, Pakistan - near Panipat in Haryana. 68 people, including 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people were killed in the blast. many others were injured in the blast.

According to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the terror blast was carried out in pursuance to a criminal conspiracy aimed at threatening the “unity, integrity, security and sovereignty” of India, The Indian Express reported..

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Who are the Accused

In June 2011, a charge sheet was filed by the NIA in the case, naming Swami Aseemanand, a former RSS member, 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. Sunil Joshi, who NIA called the mastermind, was killed in December 2007 in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.

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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What was the Motive?

According to the NIA probe, the accused were “upset” with the “Islamic Jihadi terrorist attacks” on Hindu temples like Akshardam (Gujarat). The Samjhauta Express train was targeted because it is mostly used by Indian and Pakistani Muslims, said the NIA.

The trial had involved more than 290 witnesses, of which several Pakistani nationals have not appeared, and around 30 have since turned hostile.

(With inputs from The Indian Express, PTI.)

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