Friday, July 30, 2010

NIA to probe Samjautha Express blasts case

When the National Investigating Agency was handed over the probe of the Samjautha Express blasts case, it became clear that the Haryana police which was seized off the matter failed to make any progress in the case.

The NIA has its task cut out when it sets out to probe this very difficult case which has two versions. An officer in the NIA when contacted told that they will be looking into both versions to the story, but it is too early to make any comment regarding who actually is behind this attack.

Background: It was on February 18th 2007, a bomb on the Samjautha Express running between India and Pakistan exploded. At least 68 persons were killed most of them who were of Pakistan origin. The immediate response from India was that this was the handiwork of the dreaded Lashkar-e-Tayiba which was not in favour of peace talks and hence tried to derail the same by carrying out this attack. At that point of time it was also said that since RDX was used in the blast, the only existing possibility was that it was the work of men from Pakistan since it is impossible to access RDX in India.

The Haryana police constituted a Special Investigating Team and at first acted upon the inputs by various agencies which pointed the finger to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. However despite several attempts to track down the culprits no headway was made. However the first major breakthrough the Haryana police made was when they tracked down the place from where the suitcase was purchased. This particular suitcase in which the explosives were carried was purchased from the Kothari market in Indore.

The Haryana police decided to take the case further from this, but for some reason or the other the probe never progressed. The allegation was that there was pressure from certain quarters not to probe further in the direction in which they were going.

Everything was hush hush until the probe into the Malegaon attack commenced. This was for the first time that the Maharashtra ATS under Hemanth Karkare came out with the revealation that it was the same group which carried out the Sasmjautha blasts too. This revealation first came to light when the ATS made a remand application for Colonel Shrikanth Purohith in which they stated that they needed an extension of remand since they wanted to probe him in this case too.

However various rounds of interrogation of Purohith did not reveal many details regarding his alleged involvement in this case and that is when the agency turned to Dayanand Pandey, a godman alleged to be involved in the Malegaon case. Although the narco analysis has no evidentiary value, he claimed during that test in Bangalore that it was the same group which was behind this blast. He also said that Purohit was in the know of this operation. However the ATS did not manage to get anything from Purohith when they conducted the narco test on him.

Based on these revealations the ATS probed further and they found that Purohith had supplied the RDX to a person by the name Bhagwan. Police sources say that Bhagwan could be a godman based in Indore and the RDX was transported from that place and used in the blasts. Investigations also showed that Purohith had manage to procure the RDX from an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir. This was part of seized material and instead of declaring it, he decided to use it.

However despite all this information, the ATS could not manage to put any of this on paper. The chargesheet filed against Purohith and the rest of his clan does make any mention of the Samjautha case.

The Haryana police which made the first break through when tracking this case to Indore say on condition of anonymity that their probe ended right there when they managed their first lead. We had been told to go slow on the probe many times and this was demoralizing since we could have nailed the case. The Haryana police who were fed up of the interference and constant pressure had even written a letter to the Home Department in the year 2007 itself to hand over the case to the CBI. However this request was not considered.

The NIA when it begins its probe would go into two aspects. They are not ruling out a Lashkar link to this operation as yet. They would study the modules of this outfit and also see what role the local modules could have played in this case. The case is open as of now, they say. In the meantime they would also go behind the revealations of Pandey and the also the leads that the Haryana police have managed to get so far. Two men Dange and Ramji who could have transported the material are on their radar. There would also be further probing on Purohith and Sadhvi Pragya Singh on this matter. However this time around, the NIA would like to wrap up the investigation as soon as possible they say.

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