Alleged Samjhauta Express bomber Kamal Chauhan first came under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) scanner almost a year back when the agency started looking for people who used to be close to Sunil Joshi.
Joshi, the kingpin of a group of extremists considered to be behind almost all Hindu terror strikes, was murdered in Dewas in December, 2007.
"Chauhan was part of the closely knit gang that operated under Joshi since 2002-03. All were once active in the RSS. When investigators were looking for people associated with Joshi, Chauhan's name cropped up and came under investigation," said a source.
What gave credence to their suspicions was Chauhan's disappearance from his house in village Moorkehda near Depalpur town in Madhya Pradesh when various state police started investigating Hindu extremists links in the blasts at Mecca Masjid (May 2007), Ajmer Sharif (October, 2007) and Malegaon (September, 2008). But when Chauhan realised that investigators had not specifically been looking for him, he returned home to his family.
But the NIA had quietly put him under surveillance and started monitoring his activities. When investigators were convinced of his involvement, he was called for questioning and arrested. "We suspect that along with Lokesh Sharma, a chargesheeted accused in Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Sharif and Samjhauta Express blast cases, Chauhan also planted improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the train," said a source.
The NIA has taken Chauhan on transit remand to produce him before special court in Panchkula, Haryana where the Samjhauta case is being tried. According to sources, Joshi had selected four persons to plant four IEDs in Samjhauta. The NIA has identified two of those and has enough information about the other two, who are on the run.
Two of the four IEDs exploded in Samjhauta Express coaches on February 18, 2007 and left 68 people dead. Samjhauta connects Old Delhi railway station and Atari on India-Pakistan border in Punjab.