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NIA director in US to find LeT hand in Samjhauta blast

india Updated: Apr 03, 2016 00:48 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times
Samjhauta Express

68 people were killed in the incident on February 18, 2007 near Panipat. It included both Indians and Pakistanis. (HT File Photo)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is seeking more details from the US on the involvement of a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) financier in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast to wrap up probe into the terror attack that left 68 people dead.

A high-level delegation led by NIA director general Sharad Kumar left for New York on Saturday to meet his US counterparts and get more details about the involvement of the LeT financier Arif Qasmani in the incident, government sources said.

The 68 people killed in the incident on February 18, 2007 near Panipat included both Indians and Pakistanis.

On June 29, 2009, a United Nations committee on al-Qaida and its affiliates named the Karachi-based Qasmani as the kingpin behind the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express blast and 2006 Mumbai local train bomb blasts.

The sources said the NIA approached the US government in 2010 to know on what basis it had pinpointed Qasmani’s involvement in the Samjhauta blasts. Washington replied saying they had nothing more to add or share.

It is normal for intelligence agencies not to share detailed information with even friendly countries for fear of compromising the source.

“The NIA team is going to meet all concerned officials in the US government so that a final view on Qasmani’s involvement is taken in the case,” said a senior official.

During the 10-day trip to the US, Kumar will meet officials of the Department of Treasury, Department of Justice, FBI and CIA in Washington to get further details on Qasmani.

The name of Qasmani, identified as a friend of crime syndicate chief Dawood Ibrahim, was notified by the US Treasury Department and added to the UN list.

Indian security agencies tried to pin the blame of the Samjhauta bombing on fringe Hindu groups like Abhinav Bharat on the basis of purported statements of its activists but investigating agencies have not been able to get corroborative evidence on ground.

The train blasts also became a contentious issue in India-Pakistan relations as Islamabad accuses New Delhi of dragging its feet in the investigations.

The UN body named Qasmani as a fund raiser and weapon supplier for LeT and al-Qaida terror groups and a conduit for Dawood Ibrahim’s terror activities in India.

Now nearly 80-year-old, Qasmani is a known shadowy financier of terror groups with wide links in Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries.

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