A close link between the 2002 Gujarat riots and the saffron-linked blasts is slowly emerging, with investigators finding the role played by three rioters in the Samjhauta Express blasts that killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis.
The National Investigation Agency that is probing the 2007 Samjhauta blasts has zeroed in on three people, Ramesh, Jayanti and Mahesh Gohil, who are from the same family in Vadodara.
What triggered the suspicion was that the three and another rioter Harshad Solanki, were given shelter by Sunil Joshi, the murdered RSS Pracharak, at his home in Dewas in Madhya Pradesh.
And Swami Aseemanand, one of the main blast accused, confirmed that Joshi and his group had planned and executed the Samjhuata strike.
Around midnight on February 18, 2007 — just a day before Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri was to arrive in Delhi to resume peace talks — bombs were set off on the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express, a twice-a-week service.
The incident occurred in Indian territories just after the train passed Diwana station near Panipat in Haryana, 80 km north of Delhi.
The four riot accused had to flee Gujarat after the Supreme Court reopened the Best Bakery case in 2004 even after all the 21 accused had been first acquitted by a fast-track court. During the 2002 riots in Gujarat, a mob burnt down Best Bakery in Vadodara, killing 14 people.
The four were reportedly hiding at Joshi's place till he was murdered in December 2007 and then disappeared.
While the Rajasthan anti-terrorism squad arrested Solanki in the Ajmer Sharif blast case, the investigators suspect that one of the Gohils had planted the bomb at the dargah too.