The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday granted bail to Aseemanand, main accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blasts case.
The blasts had occurred near Dewana railway station in Panipat district of Haryana, killing 68 people, mostly from Pakistan, and injuring 12.
Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Aseemanand is at present lodged in Ambala central jail. Though he has been granted bail in this case by the high court, he would not be released from jail as of now as he is also an accused in the 2007 Ajmer (Rajasthan) blast case and 2007 Mecca Masjid (Hyderabad) blast case.
The bail petition was allowed by the division bench comprising justices SS Saron and Lisa Gill on Thursday on the grounds that Aseemanand is around 77 years old, spent around three years and eight months in jail, and the case trial before the special national investigation agency (NIA) court at Panchkula would take a long time to conclude.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate and former BJP MP from Chandigarh Satya Pal Jain had argued that Aseemanand was falsely implicated in the case as there was no direct evidence against him. Jain had asserted before the court that around 250 more witnesses were yet to be examined by the special NIA court, Panchkula, in the case and it would take a long time. The court was informed that only around 40 witnesses had been examined till date.
The division bench also laid down certain restrictions on Aseemanand while granting bail, that after coming out of the jail he would not tamper with evidence, not intimidate witnesses, not leave the country without the court’s permission and would provide his phone number and address to the NIA.
‘Bomb ka badla bomb’
Aseemanand was born in Hooghly district of West Bengal. A leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) offshoot Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, he was shown as an ideologue and financier behind the blasts in the chargesheets submitted at the special NIA court, Panchkula.
As per the chargesheets, Aseemanand was upset about Islamic jihadi/terrorist attacks on Hindu temples such as Akshardham (Gujarat), Raghunath Mandir (Jammu) and Sankat Mochan Mandir (Varanasi). He expressed his anger during discussions with Sunil Joshi (now murdered), Pragya Singh Thakur and Bharat Bhai, a close disciple. All of them discussed the attacks and over time, they developed (a desire for) vengeance not only against the misguided jihadi terrorists but against the whole Muslim community. Aseemanand put forward a ‘bomb ka badla bomb’ theory.
Two explosions on the Attari Express (Samjhauta) train near Dewana railway station in Panipat on the intervening night of February 18 and 19, 2007, had caused a fire on the train, resulting in the death of 68 passengers and injuries to 12 persons. The train was on its way to Lahore (Pakistan).
The other key accused in the case are RSS activists Lokesh Sharma, Amit Hakla alias Prince, Kamal Chauhan and Rajendra Pehalwan, who planted four improvised explosive device (IEDs) on the train. Of these, only two exploded. Except Amit, who is on the run, all accused are in Ambala central jail.