Samjhauta Express blast: NIA court to announce verdict today

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PANCHKULA (DNA) – Twelve years after improvised explosive devices (IEDs) rocked the Samjhauta Express — the India-Pakistan peace train — a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Panchkula on Monday is likely to deliver the verdict in the case.According to NIA investigations, the act that killed 68 persons, including most of them Pakistani nationals, was committed using IEDs and inflammable substances, which caused blasts and fire in two carriages of the train while it was passing through Diwani village near Panipat in Haryana on the night of February 18, 2007.The train was moving towards Attari, the last station on the Indian side. Among those killed were women and children. Two unexploded suitcase bombs were also found in other carriages of the train.In the charge-sheet filed in the case in June 2011, the NIA had stated that the blast targeted Pakistani Muslims. The NIA had accused eight persons including Naba Kumar Sarkar aka Swami Aseemanand, a member of the right-wing Hindu group Abhinav Bharat, Sunil Joshi, Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange, Ramchandra Kalasangra alias Ramji, Rajinder Chaudhary and Kamal Chauhan.However, from eight accused persons, only four including Swami Aseemanand (out on bail), Lokesh Sharma (in judicial custody), Kamal Chauhan (in judicial custody), and Rajinder Chaudhary (in judicial custody) will appear before the court on Monday when the verdict will be announced.The alleged mastermind in the attack, Sunil Joshi, was killed in December 2007.Three other accused —Ramchandra Kalsangra Sandeep Dange and Amit —are absconding.The NIA charge sheet said investigations revealed that the accused were given training at Bagli in Dewas in Madhya Pradesh and Faridabad in Haryana for the preparation of the bomb and the firing of pistol.The main charge sheet submitted by NIA in the court said Joshi was the mastermind who planned and coordinated the execution of the bomb blasts in the train with the assistance of his close associates — Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange and Lokesh Sharma —in conspiracy with Aseemanand and the other co-accused.2007 saw three high profile attacks in India, the Samjhauta Express blast in February, the Mecca Masjid blast in the old city area of Hyderabad in May and the Ajmer Dargah bombing in the courtyard of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, Rajasthan, in October.