Tribune News Service
Panchkula, September 4
In a setback to the National Investigating Agency (NIA), four of the five witnesses in the Samjhauta blasts case turned hostile here today.
The witness — Rajeshwar Singh from Agra (Uttar Pradesh), Ajay Chauhan and Shakti Singh from Haridwar (Uttarakhand), Lal Krishan Joshi from Rajasthan — retracted from their earlier statements.
Another witness Aruna Thakur, however, produced record before the special NIA court today.
“Rajeshwar failed to identify main accused Swami Aseemanand. He told the court he had gone to an RSS programme and he knew one Aseemanand of Daang area, but not this Aseemanand standing in the court,” said defense counsel Manbir Singh Rathi.
He further said, “Ajay and Shakti, villagers from Haridwar (from where the NIA had shown the arrest of Aseemanand), said no such person ever stayed with a saint there and they didn’t know who he was.”
It was told that Aseemanand had taken shelter at a village in Haridwar with a saint, but the two persons who were made witnesses backed out.
“Krishan, who works at a coaching centre, said he never had any link with Sadhvi Pragya,” Rathi added.
The Samjhauta Express, the only rail link between India and Pakistan, was bombed in February 2007 at Diwana village near Panipat. Four improvised explosive devices were planted on the Samjhauta Express, a twice-weekly train service connecting Delhi, India, and Lahore, Pakistan on February 18, 2007, in which 68 lives were lost.
In February 2014, the trial began. The NIA had framed charges against four accused — Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajender Chaudhary. The charges included murder and sedition.
The NIA, in its charge-sheet, had said many Hindu activists had conspired to blow up the train following which four were arrested, including Aseemanand.
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