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India asks Pak for access to survivors

India and Pak seek cooperation from each other for probe into the Samjhauta blasts, reports Nilova R Chaudhury.

india Updated:

A day after rejecting a joint probe with Pakistan into the Samjhauta link-train blasts, India on Thursday sought from its neighbour “access” to the Pakistanis injured in the blasts to assist in the investigations.

These people were witnesses in the case and investigators would need to record their statements, said senior officials of the home and external affairs ministries. A formal diplomatic letter was handed to Pakistan, seeking access to the injured in India or later in Pakistan.

MEA spokesman Navtej Sarna said, “We hope the authorities in Pakistan will extend all cooperation in the investigations, when required, in the interest of identifying and punishing the guilty.”

India would provide Pakistan “concrete and certain evidence" found during the blast probe, when the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism meets in Islamabad on March 6, a senior official said.

A senior Pakistani diplomat said Indian officials wanted an “undertaking” from Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India Shahid Malik that Indian investigators would be allowed to question the injured Pakistanis. Only then would the Pakistan Air Force’s C-130 aircraft — which arrived in Delhi earlier in the day to carry home the injured — be allowed to leave India, he claimed.

“This is a matter of concern for us, since there have been complaints of harassment by several patients,” said Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam.

According to Indian officials, however, the aircraft remained stuck on the tarmac because it had “developed a technical problem”. The aircraft took off around 9 p.m. with seven patients.

First Published: Feb 22, 2007 23:12 IST