Samjhauta blast: Pak victims' kin seek visa to visit India
As many as 10 persons from Pakistan have sought the visa to visit India, claiming that they are the legal heirs of Pakistani nationals killed in the 2007 Samjhauta Express bomb blast and hence eligible for the compensation announced by the Indian government.
Alleging that some people have fraudulently presented themselves as kin of the Pakistani victims and claimed the compensation, they have filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking directions to the central government to consider their visa applications so that they can pursue their cases before the Railway Claims Tribunal.
The 10 petitioners also seek to perform religious rites at the graves of the blast victims in Mehrana, Panipat, but are aggrieved since the Indian government is allegedly not willing to consider their visa applications.
The blast took place around midnight on February 19, 2007 when the train was en route from Delhi to Pakistan, near Diwana railway station in Panipat district of Haryana. It killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis.
But 19 bodies could not be identified and were buried in a graveyard at Mehrana village in Panipat.
The Indian railway ministry announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each, and the Pakistan government declared a relief of Rs 5 lakh each, to the victims' families. In India, the Railway Claims Tribunal at Chandigarh is hearing the compensation cases.
The high court was informed that the Indian high commission in Pakistan had rejected the visa application of one of the petitioners, Rahila Vakil, daughter of deceased Pakistani national Mohammad Vakil, in December.
Vakil's visa was rejected because she could not produce bank papers to prove that she had the mandatory Rs 1 lakh in her account.
Now, the petitioners have requested advocate Momin Malik of Panipat through e-mail to pursue their cases for grant of visa. Malik is the lawyer pursuing compensation cases of Pakistani nationals at the tribunal, which are fixed for next hearing on April 20.
Taking up the petition, high court justice AK Mittal asked the lawyer to clear his 'locus standi' as to whether he can be authorised to pursue the cases through e-mail from Pakistan. The matter would now come up for hearing on March 13.