Abstructing course of justice in Samjhauta bombing
Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat


Indian National Investigation Agency has recently claimed that there is no proof against Lt Col Prasad Purohit in the Samjhauta blast case. NIA’s Director General Sharad Kumar told the PTI here that there is “no proof against him in Samjhauta blast case. He was never an accused. I wonder why his name is being linked to Samjhauta blast case."

Giving a clean chit to the accused Indian Army officer, he said Purohit had been charge-sheeted by the ATS Mumbai in the Malegaon blasts in 2008 and the NIA was carrying out further investigations in the matter.

On the other hand, another key witness in cases involving 'Hindu right-wing extremists' has alleged that he was coerced into giving a statement framing people, including Swami Aseemanand, in the Samjhauta Express blast case. The man, identified as Yashpal Bhadana, a member of Abhinav Bharat, recorded his statement before a magistrate under Section 164 CrPC in connection with the 2008 Malegaon case being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

On February 8, 2007, two carriages of the twice weekly train service connecting New Delhi with Lahore were bombed near the Indian city of Panipat. Most of the 68 people killed were Pakistanis. While India squarely blamed Pakistan or Pakistan sponsored elements for the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blasts, it was later found out that Hindu extremist Swami Aseemanand had confessed that leaders of different Hindu communal organizations -- Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram -- had planned, financed and supported these terrorist attacks. The NIA had filed a charge sheet against eight people in connection with the Samjhauta blast case which includes Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Asimanand, the late Sunil Joshi alias Sunilji, Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange (both absconding), Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, Amit and Rajender Choudhary.

According to reports, Aseemanand later retracted his statement and was also granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana high courts. Head of RSS affiliated Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Aseemanand was arrested by the CBI in November 2010 and charge-sheeted by the NIA in Samjhauta blast case. He remains under trial at a Panchkula court.

Surprisingly, the tentacles of the Samjhauta Express attack had spread to the Indian Army and Indian Military Intelligence. Colonel Purohit of the Indian Military Intelligence had admitted that Hindu terrorists were working to cause an armed conflict between Pakistan and India. Also, the Hindu terror groups were seeking to end India’s democracy and its secular status and wanted a conservative Hindu state in its place. The terrorists wanted to target the Indian Muslims besides other minorities, which are already sidelined.

According to Tehelka, an Indian investigative website, these groups have also deep penetration in the Indian Army, It was reported that there was covert support for the Saffron terror groups among the uniformed personnel and the Indian Army seemed to rally behind them. Purohit even claimed that Gen J J Singh, who was the Indian Army chief till Sept. 2007, was with him. Even more damning was the revelation by Purohit that “one of our own captains had visited Israel for training and meeting and demanded four things from Israel, i.e. continuous and uninterrupted supply of arms and training, an office with a saffron flag in Tel Aviv, political asylum and support for our cause of a Hindu Nation in the UN. The Israelis gave a very positive response and promised arms and asylum.”

Strangely, 19 witnesses have turned hostile in the Samjhauta case alone. Overall, about 40 witnesses have turned hostile in the trials in the Ajmer Dargah blast of October 2007 and the Samjhauta Express blast of February 2007. Many more plan to follow suit as part of a trend which began after the regime change at the Centre in 2014 i.e. taking over by Narender Modi. According to the NIA, they cannot prevent people from recording their statements afresh. Most of the 40 witnesses who have turned hostile in the Samjhauta and Ajmer cases have either claimed that "they were pressured to give their earlier statements" or "denied knowing the accused Swami Aseemanand or others whom they previously claimed to have met".

Nevertheless, the Samjhauta Express issue is very much alive despite attempts to subvert the witnesses and will remain so till full justice is delivered.