Yesterday, on March 20, a special court that was looking into the Samjhauta blast case, passed a verdict that acquitted the four accused in the case. The reason cited was a lack of evidence to prove their involvement.
Judgment delayed and disappointing
Earlier this month, on March 11, Rahila Vakil, a Pakistani national whose father was killed in the Samjhauta Express blast in 2007, moved an application that stopped the National Investigation Agency (NIA) court from delivering their verdict as scheduled. She said that she would like to present some evidence pertinent to the case.
Although the judgment day was postponed to March 14, NIA special judge, Justice Jagdeep Singh dismissed her request, wherein she sought for Pakistani eyewitnesses to be examined. This was after NIA counsel Rajan Malhotra submitted before the court that Pakistani authorities had not responded to earlier requests for statements from 13 key Pakistani witnesses to the blast, conveyed through diplomatic channels. Rahila Vakil was not one among these 13 witnesses.
Thereafter, as per the court’s judgment given on March 20, the four men under trial for this case were acquitted. Their acquittal was attributed to the NIA’s failure to prove their involvement in the attack that left 68 people, mostly Pakistani nationals, dead.
About the accused
The accused included Swami Aseemanand, a saffron-clad ‘god-man’ who was accused and acquitted in two other blasts that happened in 2007. Aseemanand was arrested in 2010 after he confessed to his involvement in the Samjhauta attack; however, he later claimed that he was tortured into giving this false statement.
A total of eight men were accused in the NIA’s 2011 chargesheet regarding this case. The mastermind, Sunil Joshi, was allegedly killed shortly after the blast in 2007. Three others were declared ‘proclaimed offenders’ as they could not be arrested.
Their possible motive
According to the NIA, their ‘bomb ka badla bomb’ motto stemmed from being upset with earlier attacks on Hindu temples like Gujarat’s Akshardham, Jammu’s Raghunath Mandir, and Varanasi’s Sankat Mochan Mandir.
Prominent Indian Muslim leader and MP, Lok Sabha, Asaduddin Owaisi expressed his disappointment in the verdict.
68 dead and nothing to account for them, nothing to say that justice has been done.
How long is one going to hear of acquittals because of deliberately shoddy prosecutions? https://t.co/nqMCw1PtqH— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) March 20, 2019
Pakistan, which had expressed concern in 2016 over the delay in investigation and delivery of justice in the case, condemned the acquittal. In a statement released by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan called the verdict a ‘travesty of justice’, even going as far as to accuse the Indian justice system of ‘protecting [Hindu] terrorists’.
Tejaswi Subramanian is a senior-sub editor at Qrius
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius