A Panchkula special court on Wednesday acquitted four people including Swami Aseemanand for the deadly firebombing of the Samjhauta Express in 2007. 68 people – 42 of them Pakistani passengers – were killed in the attack when the bi-weekly train, connecting Delhi and Attari at India-Pakistan border in Punjab, on the night of 18 February 2007.
Investigators had concluded that terrorists had used improved explosive devices and inflammable substances for the blasts and the fire in two coaches of the train near Panipat in Haryana. Two unexploded suitcase bombs were found in other compartments of the train.
The Samjhauta blast case was the only pending case against the 67-year-old preacher who had once been accused by the federal anti-terror probe agency, National Investigation Agency, of conspiracy in 2007 bombings at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and Rajasthan’s Ajmer Dargah.
Swami Aseemanand has already been cleared by courts of terror charges in these cases over the last two years.
The NIA, which had taken over the probe in 2011 along with six other cases where Hindu extremists were alleged to be involved, had accused eight people of involvement in the Samjhauta blasts. Investigators had then said a former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, who was accused to have plotted the attack, was shot dead by his associates in December 2007.
On the night of February 18, 2007, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) had set off a fire in the Samjhauta Express killing 68 people. The explosion took place near Panipat in Haryana.
The Samjhauta Express is jointly run by the railways of India and Pakistan. It runs twice a week between Delhi and Attari in India and Lahore in Pakistan.