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NIA court rues lack of evidence in Samjhauta case

RSS member Aseemanand after a special court acquitted him in the Samjhauta Express blast case, at Panchkula on March 20, 2019.

RSS member Aseemanand after a special court acquitted him in the Samjhauta Express blast case, at Panchkula on March 20, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The judgment in the case was made public on March 28.

A special NIA court that acquitted all the accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case, where 68 people were killed, said in its judgement that the NIA had miserably failed to prove the charges framed against the accused.

Special Court judge Jagdeep Singh said the court had to “conclude this judgment with deep pain and anguish as a dastardly act of violence remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence.”

The court also pulled up the investigating agencies for coining terms like “Muslim terrorism, Hindu fundamentalism etc. or brand an act of criminal(s) as act(s) of particular religion, caste or community.” Several witnesses turned hostile.

‘Gaping holes’

“There are gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism has remained unsolved. Terrorism has no religion because no religion in the world preaches violence. A Court of Law is not supposed to proceed on popular or predominant public perception or the political discourse of the day and ultimately it has to appreciate the evidence on record,” the court said.

The Samjhauta case has been a matter of a political slugfest between the Congress party and the ruling BJP.

The latter had accused the then UPA government of politicising the case and falsely coining the term “saffron terror.”

Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Aseemanand was a prime accused in the case along with other suspects — Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajender Chaudhary. All were acquitted last week.

The court said “no concrete oral, documentary or scientific evidence has been brought on record to connect the accused, facing the trial, with the crime in question.”

It added there was not an “iota of evidence” to make out any motive on the part of the accused to indulge in the crime.

No new facts

“There is no evidence on record to show as to how and from where raw materials for making/preparation of bombs were procured; as to who collected the material to prepare the explosives; as to who had prepared/assembled the bomb/explosives; as to how and from where technical know-how was arranged/obtained with regard to preparation of bomb/explosives; as to who planted the bombs in Samjhauta Express train etc. and the entire prosecution case is found to have been built on inadmissible evidence in the shape of disclosure statements of the accused, without there being any discovery of new fact/recovery of material/object,” the court said.

NIA did not submit CCTV footage of the Old Delhi railway station where, as alleged by the NIA, the accused loaded explosive-laden suitcases on the Samjhauta train. It also did not produce records of a dormitory where the accused stayed a night before the blasts. It could not submit the train tickets or bus tickets used by the accused to travel back to their destinations from Delhi.

The court also refused to admit Aseemanand’s confessional statement recorded in a Panchkula court in 2011.

“It is settled legal proposition that unless the main features of the story/prosecution version are shown to be true it would be unsafe to rely upon uncorroborated confessional statement, especially when the same is found to be given under circumstances indicating certain degree of influence/duress/pressure,” the court said.

The court refused to rely on circumstantial evidence against the accused adding that all circumstance must form a complete chain in order to rule out innocence of the accused persons or culpability of persons other than the accused.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 12:58:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/samjhauta-case-special-court-says-valuable-piece-of-evidence-lost-due-to-improper-investigations/article26666282.ece

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