Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the chargesheets filed in the Samjhauta Express blast case did not have any substantial proof, The Hindu reported. Shah defended the government’s decision not to file an appeal against those acquitted in the case.
Religious leader Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary were acquitted by a special National Investigation Agency court on March 20. The explosion, which took place on February 18, 2007, killed 68 people, including 10 Indians. In its chargesheet, the National Investigation Agency said the blast had targeted Pakistani Muslims. Samjhauta Express connects India and Pakistan. However, the court had said that there were “gaping holes” in the prosecution’s evidence.
Shah alleged that the case had been instituted with a political motive. He was responding to a debate on a bill to extend more powers to the National Investigation Agency. The Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, with a voice vote on Wednesday.
“Seven people were arrested for the Samjhauta blast,” Shah said, according to The Times of India. “A case was created to connect the blasts to a specific religion, culprits were released and new people were arrested. How could have they received punishment? There was no evidence against them. Who is responsible that justice wasn’t served to the victims of the Samjhauta blast? Because it is not us.”
He pointed out that the first chargesheet in the case was filed on August 9, 2012, and the second on June 12, 2013, when the United Progressive Alliance was in power. The decision to not file an appeal against the acquittals was taken on the basis of the law officer’s opinion, Shah said.
Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi brought up the failure of the NIA to conduct a proper investigation in the case. He said that despite being a premier agency, its rate of prosecution remained dismal. Singhvi pointed out that special court judge Jagdeep Singh had also said the prosecution had withheld the “best evidence” and that some of the independent witnesses were never examined.