A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Panchkula acquitted RSS activist Swami Aseemanand and three others accused in the Samjhauta Express blast on Wednesday.

The verdict comes after the NIA special judge dismissed the plea filed by a Pakistani woman for examining eyewitnesses from her country, saying it was devoid of any merit.

Aseemanand’s counsel Mukesh Garg said that NIA, which was probing the case, failed to prove the involvement of the men in the attack allegedly planned as revenge for terror strikes on Indian temples.

India’s High Commissioner in Islamabad Ajay Bisaria has clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the trial into the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case was carried out in a “transparent” manner.

Who is Aseemanand?

Accused in three terror attacks but acquitted in all, Swami Aseemanand a.k.a. Naba Kumar Sarkar was once the most wanted man in the country. The saffron-clad started his life as a seer after he joined the rightwing organisation and intiated preching their ideologies. Aseemanand had allegedly confessed that he was “angered by terrorist attacks committed on Hindus and their temples” and wanted to “avenge” them by attacking Muslim areas and places of worship, a 2010 chargesheet by the CBI stated.

The NIA had charged the accused with murder and criminal conspiracy, besides other relevant provisions of the Explosive Substances Act and the Railways Act. In the past three years, Aseemanand has been acquitted from all the terror cases he was involved in.  In March 2017, he was acquitted of the Ajmer case followed by the Mecca Masjid blast in April last year and Samjhauta Express acquittal being the last one.

According to the NIA charge sheet, the accused were upset with terror attacks on Hindu temples Akshardham (Gujarat), Raghunath Mandir (Jammu) and Sankat Mochan Mandir (Varanasi). They then conspired to seek “revenge”, the NIA argued.

Apart from Aseemanand, the other acquitted are Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, and Rajinder Chaudhary.

The blast on the Pakistan-bound train near Panipat in Haryana on February 18, 2007, had ripped apart two coaches, killing 68, mostly Pakistani nationals. The probe was handed over to the National Investigation Agency in July 2010.

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