The special NIA court has directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to conclude on October 5 its witness examination in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blasts case in which 68 people were killed.

Special judge Jagdeep Singh on Tuesday directed NIA to file a status report regarding service of summons to unexamined witnesses who are Pakistan nationals.

The court directed the agency to positively file the report on or before October 5, as per the order made available on Thursday.

The blasts had taken place on February 18, 2007, near Panipat, killing 68 people, 42 of them Pakistanis, when bi-weekly Samjhauta Express connecting Delhi and Attari, at India-Pakistan border in Punjab, was crossing Panipat.

The initial investigation in the case was carried out by the Government Railway Police and the Haryana Police, but the Centre handed over the probe in 2010 to the NIA, which filed a chargesheet against alleged Hindu extremists Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi (now dead), Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary, Amit, Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalasangra alias Ramji.

Aseemanand and Sharma were facing trial in the Mecca Masjid blasts at Hyderabad (May 18, 2007) and Rajasthan’s Ajmer Sharif blast (October 11, 2007) and have been acquitted in both the cases.

The court observed that as per the latest communication received from the ministry of external affairs, there has been no response from Pakistan in this regard so far and the mission has been once again requested for the status.

The special public prosecutors also apprised the court that all the witnesses, except 13 Pakistan nationals, have already been examined.

“Prosecution/NIA is directed to concluded its entire evidence at the earliest…by bringing all unexamined witnesses,” the court said while fixing hearing for October 5. The court took note of the fact that Kamal Chauhan, Lokesh Sharma and Rajinder Chaudhary are in custody for over six years now.

The court has been adjourning the matter for witness examination of Pakistan nationals since November 2017. However, NIA has failed to bring them so far. Among the Pakistani witnesses are some survivors of the train blast tragedy.

First Published: Sep 21, 2018 11:17 IST

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