Remembering the Aftermath of Samjhauta Bomb Blast

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Organiser remembers how the narrative of terrorism was sought to be insidiously changed with the ghastly Samjhauta bomb blasts that shook the Indian subcontinent 14 years ago, on this day, i.e., on February 18

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Hindus have always been accused of what they are not and have never been. One of such accusations is of a “violent Hindu”. Thus, Wendy Doniger, the author of most popular book on Hinduism in the West, for instance, asserts that a culture of superstitious violence and sacrifice has been a hallmark of Hindus (The Hindoos must do Veda sacrifice now, or the sun won't rise!). Even our Gods have been re-packaged as being whimsical and violent (Lord Indra is ‘rowdy and amoral’). As Vamsee Juluri argues, they “quote lines about Shiva, the Hollywood God of Death, as atom bombs go off.” In fact, when the first atom bomb was successfully tested in a US desert village of Oscuro, Robert J Oppenheimer, the principal architect of the project, quoted from the Gita: I am become death, the shatterer of the world.
The beginning of the 21st century witnessed the narrative of “violent Hindus” extended to “terrorist Hindus”. Linking Samjhauta bomb blasts to Hindu terror was one such instance of this logical premise of the Hinduphobic propaganda. Despite the absence of evidence or any past record of terror as modus operandi for Hindu extremist groups, a narrative was spun so that a politically-useful false equivalence could somehow be created between inward-looking Dharmic religions of India and the foreign conversion-based religions. The fancy tale of Hindu terrorism satisfies many egos. However, Hinduphobic vindication was short-lived when all the “Hindu” accused were acquitted in March 2019 and the investigating agency was castigated by the court for not having done their duty properly.
Court’s Observations
The court observed that prosecution/NIA had “miserably failed to prove the charges framed against the accused” and that there was not even “an iota of evidence” against them. The Court concluded the case “with deep pain and anguish as a dastardly act of violence remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence.”
Jagdeep Singh, Special Judge under the NIA Act, while acquitting all the accused, noted that there were gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism sadly remained unsolved.
The court said that “a Court of Law is not supposed to proceed on popular or predominant public perception or the political discourse of the day and ultimately it has to appreciate the evidence on record and arrive at final conclusion on the basis of relevant statutory provisions and settled law applicable thereto.” It further said:
Suspicion, however grave, cannot take the place of proof and it is cardinal principal of criminal jurisprudence that charge against an accused can only be established by adducing evidence beyond reasonable doubt. A few bits here and a few bits there on which prosecution relies cannot be held to be adequate or connecting the accused with the crime in question.
In criminal cases, conviction cannot be based upon morality and there must be admissible and credible evidence to base conviction and moreover it is well settled canon of criminal jurisprudence that ‘fouler the crime higher the proof’ and mandate of law is that the prosecution has to prove the charges beyond all reasonable doubt. Prosecution is under obligation to place and prove all necessary circumstances constituting complete chain without there being any missing link and also pointing to the hypothesis that except the accused none else had committed the crime.
In the present case, there is no evidence regarding any agreement to commit the crime amongst the accused persons. There is no evidence regarding any meeting of minds between the accused to commit the crime. No concrete oral, documentary or scientific evidence has been brought on record to connect the accused, facing the trial, with the crime in question. There is not an iota of evidence to make out any motive on the part of the accused to indulge in the crime.
There is no evidence on record to show as to how and from where raw materials for making/preparation of bombs were procured; as to who collected the material to prepare the explosives; as to who had prepared/assembled the bomb/explosives; as to how and from where technical know-how was arranged/obtained with regard to preparation of bomb/explosives; as to who planted the bombs in Samjhauta Express train etc. and the entire prosecution case is found to have been built on inadmissible evidence in the shape of disclosure statements of the accused, without there being any discovery of new fact/recovery of material/object.
Further, there is no credible and admissible evidence on record pertaining to any association, preparation, planning, execution etc. of/by the accused with regard to carrying out explosion/blasts in Samjhauta Express train and further there is no credible evidence with regard to previous and/or subsequent conduct of accused persons so far as the present crime is concerned.
An Insider’s Account
RVS Mani in his book The Myth of Hindu Terror: Insider Account of Ministry of Home Affairs talks about Samjhauta bomb blast thus:
The initial revelations:
On the intervening night of 18/19-2-2007 at about 11.40 pm there was a blast in train No. 4001 Samjhauta Express (Delhi to Attari) in which two bogies were burnt near Diwana, (Panipat) in Haryana. As a result of which 68 passengers died and 12 others were injured. Only 48 bodies could be identified out of which 39 were Pak nationals and 9 Indians. A case FIR No.28 dated 19-02-2007 u/s 302/307/124-A/438/446 IPC and u/s 3/4/6 Explosives Act 150/151/152 Railway Act u/s 3 and 4 of Prevention and damage of public property Act has been registered in Police Station GRP, Karnal. During checking, two live time bombs were recovered in two different suitcases along with bottles of kerosene oil, which were disposed off by the Bomb Disposal Team. A special investigation team was constituted. The evidence from the blasts site of Samjhauta Express led the Police to Indore, M.P., from where they also detained two persons from whom the terrorists had purchased the bags/ covers in which the bombs were placed. However, no further lead could be given by these two detained persons, hence they were released.
A Karachi-based terrorist outfit claimed responsibility for the attack at that time. A special investigation team was constituted. In June 2016, in NewsX, the first responder to the event, Bharti Arora, IPS, then SP (Police and Railways) of Panipat, confirmed the finds. Recently, the Inspector who is the investigating officer in the case has also reaffirmed this on television. These are the confirmations available in the public domain. The Nagori narco tapes, which were also telecast by Times Now, reaffirms this position.
Interestingly, there is a reference to the Samjhauta blast case included in the series of dossiers shared with Pakistan on every bilateral mechanism. Isn’t this an official acknowledgement of Pakistani involvement? Basically, the dossier is entitled, ‘Dossier on fugitives from Indian law living in Pakistan’.
The then official position (in 2007) was that this attack was carried out by an Indian group and some Indians had to stand trial for it (Sameer Kulkarni, Pragya Bharati, Purohit, Aseemananda and others). If that was the position, then why did this incident get included in the Pak dossier? The box of paradox explodes in the face of the then government when answers are sought to my questions. This would perhaps accord a clear opportunity to Pakistanis to grandstand. Or was it an escape route being offered to Pakistan to get away with the charge of fermenting terror in India, because anyone can ask these questions.
It is clear from the court verdict as well as the insider account of the top bureaucrat RVS Mani that Samjhauta bomb blasts were politically exploited to set the narrative of ‘saffron terror’. A narco-analysis report on a top SIMI operative has shown the role of Pakistan-linked terrorists. Initial reports too had suggested the role of Lashkar-e-Taiba but a completely different angle was introduced and pursued by investigating agencies. A US report had declared Arif Qasmani to be involved in the attack. The sad part is that amidst all skewed investigation, the actual perpetrators went unpunished.