Samjhauta Express blast case: NIA to ask Pakistan to send 13 witnesses

  • Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 24, 2016 17:06 IST
The NIA believes it will be a test case of Pakistan whether it wants to see justice delivered in the Samjhauta case. (HT file photo)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will soon ask Pakistan to send 13 of its nationals to depose as witnesses before a special NIA court conducting the trial of the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast that killed over 60 people.

The agency’s officials believe that it will be a test case for Pakistan whether it wants to see justice delivered in the Samjhauta case. Pakistan has been making noise about the case in order to create a comparative narrative to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

However, NIA officials say Pakistan has utterly failed to punish those responsible for the Mumbai attacks or even identify those responsible for the January 2 Pathankot attack, whereas the trial in Samjhauta case is at a fag end.

Indian security officials say Pakistan has so far conducted a sham of the trial against accused in the 26/11 case. And in the Pathankot attack case, it is yet to act on the evidence provided by the NIA when a joint investigation team came from the neighbouring country. It has so far been non-committal on a reciprocal visit of the NIA to Islamabad.

On Tuesday, it expressed “grave concern” over what it termed as an unnecessary delay in the investigation of the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing case. “We also call upon the Indian government to share information about the investigation proceedings of the terrorist attack,” Pakistan’s foreign office said.

More than 42 Pakistani nationals lost their lives in the bombings, it added.

But Indian security officials believe that there can be no comparison between the Samjhauta case and the 26/11 attacks.

India not only arrested those responsible for the train blasts of February 2007 but the trial is also in its last stage. More than 200 witnesses have deposed in the case and the prosecution evidence will close soon in the case if Pakistan cooperates by sending 13 of its nationals who have been made a witness in the case by the NIA.

The NIA is even preparing to request the court to record statements of these witnesses at Wagah border if they are unwilling to come to Panchkula where the trial is going on.

The agency is eagerly waiting to see whether Pakistan really wants to see justice served in the Samjhauta case by sending witnesses.

Powerful bombs ripped through two compartments of the Samjhauta Express train, the rail link between India and Pakistan, late on February 18, killing 68 people and injuring several others. The blasts occurred near Dewana railway station in Haryana’s Panipat district.

More than half a dozen Hindu extremists are facing trial in the Samjhauta case. The NIA has alleged that the Hindu extremists bombed the train that runs between Delhi and Atari at India-Pakistan border to ferry Indians and Pakistanis, in retaliation for jihadi terror strikes in India.

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