Samjhauta attack: Charges filed against five extremists in India
NEW DELHI, June 20: India’s anti-terror National Investigating Agency (NIA) on Monday filed charges against five alleged Hindu extremists for the 2007 fire-bombing of the Samjhauta Express that killed 68 passengers, including 42 Pakistanis on their way home, reports said.
The move comes days ahead of a critical meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan in Islamabad who are to discuss a raft of issues, including terrorism. The Samjhauta issue has figured prominently in bilateral talks in the past.
Local reports said the NIA filed the charges, including that of criminal conspiracy and murder, in the Special Court at Panchkula in the Haryana state where the incident occurred on February 18, 2007.
The accused are Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi (now dead), Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalasangra alias Ramji.
The initial investigation was carried out by the Railway Police and the Haryana Police but on July 26 last year, India handed over the probe to the NIA, which registered the case on July 29. NIA sleuths fanned out to several parts of the country to unravel the conspiracy.
The investigation, conducted over the past year, established that the conspiracy was hatched between 2005 and 2007 by Swami Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi and his associates – Ramji, Sandeep Dange, Lokesh Sharma and others at different places in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and other states.
The accused were upset at a series of attacks on Hindu temples by alleged Muslim extremists.
“As a result, Swami Aseemanand propounded a bomb ka badla bomb (bomb for bomb) theory. The Samjhauta Express was particularly chosen, as most of its passengers are Pakistani citizens. He not only provided financial and logistical support to the terror group which executed this dastardly act but also played a vital role in instigating and motivating his associates to undertake this terrorist act,” the charge-sheet says.
Sandeep Dange, Ramji, Lokesh Sharma and others, acting under the leadership of Sunil Joshi, were instrumental in procuring the raw materials for building Improvised Explosive Devices and getting them fabricated and planted. The investigation yielded a strong suspicion about the role of some more persons in the conspiracy and, therefore, further probe would be conducted.