18, 2007, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had exploded on the Lahore-bound Samjhauta Express near Dewana railway station, Panipat (Haryana), killing 68 people and injuring 12. Most of the victims were Pakistanis.
"After taking over the investigations, the NIA probed all available leads and the possibility (of involvement) of all known terror groups, including Jehadi groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Al-Qaeda and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), and suspected persons associated with them, for example Arif Qasmani, Safdar Nagori and David Headley," the agency said.
The NIA informed the court through counsels Rajan Malhotra and RK Handa that the first major breakthrough in the case during the investigation of the 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Maharashtra, "which hinted towards the possible involvement of Sunil Joshi, Col Purohit, Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange and others in the Samjhauta case."
The agency further said, "The second major breakthrough during the investigation was in the form of disclosures under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) made by Aseemanand. The subsequent investigation and the corroborated evidences thus collected well established the role of Aseemanand and others in the Samjhauta blasts case. Accordingly, chargesheets were filed before the court against seven persons, namely Aseemanand (arrested), Ramchandra Kalsangra (absconding), Sandeep Dange (absconding), Sunil Joshi (since dead), Lokesh Sharma (arrested), Amit (absconding) and Kamal Chauhan (arrested). The investigation has revealed in detail the manner of execution of the blasts and the role played by each co-accused."
While opposing Aseemanad's bail, the NIA said he not only conspired for causing such blasts but also offered his personal residence in Dang (Gujarat) as a venue for conspiracy meetings and had prior knowledge of the blasts executed by mastermind Joshi.
It added that three accused were still at large and Aseemanand, if released on bail, could tamper with oral evidence collected in the case.
Aseemanand, while seeking bail, submitted that in 2009, the United Nations Security Council declared that Qasmani, a Karachi-based LeT operative, was involved in the Samjhauta blasts. The US treasury department made a similar observation about Qasmani's involvement, he said. He added that narco-analysis of SIMI general secretary Safdar Nagori, his brother Kamruddin Nagori and Amil Parvez in April 2007 revealed the involvement of SIMI activists in the blasts.
The next date of hearing in the case is March 14.
Meanwhile, Rajinder Pehalwan had been allowed to be taken to Hyderabad in the Mecca Masjid blasts case.