Four more witnesses in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts case turned hostile on Friday before a National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court in Panchkula. Five associates of Aseemanand, one of the main accused in the case, at his Shabridham ashram in Dang of Gujarat were called for statements on Friday.
The blasts on Samjhauta Express train had taken place on February 18, 2007, killing 68 people, mostly from Pakistan.
Kishore Bhai Gavit, a resident of Ahwa (Dang in Gujarat), had earlier told NIA that he was given a contract of construction work at Aseemanand’s ashram in Dang and was also associated with Shabri Kumbh Samiti and organisation of Kumbh in 2006. He had earlier said that Aseemanand was connected with Abhinav Bharat, Col PS Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and once after the arrest of Pragya he had said it was time to surrender. He had claimed that he had seen Sandeep Dange, one of the accused in Samjhauta blasts, at the ashram after the arrest of Pragya. But he resiled.
Sunil Bhai of Dang, who was to establish relations between Sunil Joshi, now dead, and Sadhvi Pragya as he used to stay with Aseemanand at his Shabridham ashram also resiled.
Other associates of Aseemanand—Phool Chand a resident of Amonia village about 80 km from Shabridham, and Mansu Bhai, a resident of Ahwa—who had both earlier said that Manoj Joshi along with two others and Bharat Bhai had once stayed for long at Shabridham and that Pragya Singh Thakur also used to come there, turned hostile.
They had earlier said that after the arrest of Pragya, Aseemanand had once told them that if the police would come, then they shouldn’t recognise anyone. They were to testify about the stay of Sandeep Dange, one of the absconding accused in the case, at Shabridham too but resiled.
“However, Jyanti Bhai, a resident of Navsari district of Gujarat, who looked after the donations at Shabridham supported the prosecution,” said Rajan Malhotra, NIA counsel. He said that Aseemanand had kept two to three people at the ashram but he did not recognise them. He had left the ashram after the name of Shabridham appeared in newspapers in the blasts.