Samjhauta victims’ kin seek visa to claim relief
Ten people from Pakistan have sought a 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 government.
Alleging that some people have fraudulently presented themselves as kin of the victims and claimed compensation, they have approached the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking directions to the Centre to consider their visa applications so that they can pursue their cases before the Railway Claims Tribunal.
The blast took place on February 19, 2007 when the train was en route from Delhi to Pakistan, near Diwana in Panipat district. It caused 68 deaths, most of the victims being Pakistanis.
But 19 bodies could not be identified and were buried in a graveyard at Mehrana village in Panipat.
The 10 petitioners seek to perform religious rites at the graves of the blast victims in Mehrana, Panipat, but the Indian government is allegedly not willing to consider their visa applications.
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.
The rejection was 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 hearing on April 20.