Wednesday, May 29, 2019

India court acquits Samjhauta train blast accused

March 21, 2019

Muslim accused in Godhra train carnage jailed for life

By News report

NEW DELHI: An Indian court acquitted the four accused of Samjhauta Express blast in 2007 that had killed 70 including 42 Pakistanis. Prime suspect Swami Aseemanand and two others were acquitted in the terror attack on the train, which was going to Lahore from New Delhi. According to the Indian media report, NIA Counsel RK Handa said the court concluded that the investigating agency failed to prove the conspiracy charge and the accused ‘deserved benefit of doubt’.

Pakistan condemned the acquittal of the four accused in the terror bombing incident. Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said that more than 42 Pakistani nationals were martyred in the terrorist attack. “When will the families of those martyred get justice?” he said. The Indian court had reserved its order in the case and adjourned the hearing following the plea of a Pakistani woman to have her statement recorded. Rahila Vakeel, a resident of Hafizabad and the daughter of Muhammad Vakeel who had gone missing during the incident, in her petition claimed that she had evidence relevant to the case, the Times of India (TOI) reported. However, Rahila said she has not yet received a visa nor a call or a summon. The final arguments in the case were concluded on March 6 and the judgement was reserved for March 11.

Also on Wednesday, a court jailed a Muslim, Yakub Patalia, for life in the Godhra train carnage case of 2002 in which 59 people were charred to death. As per the prosecution case, Yakub was a part of the mob that torched the S6 coach of the Sabarmati express returning from Ayodhya, near the Godhra railway station, killing 59 kar sevaks and triggering riots in which over 1,000 people were massacred. The court sentenced two other accused to life imprisonment while three others were acquitted in August, 2018. They had been arrested after the main trial was completed in 2011. Farooq Bhana and Imran Sheri were the two sentenced to life in August last year and Hussain Suleman Mohan, Kasam Bhamedi and Faruk Dhantiya were the three who were acquitted.

In 2011, the court convicted 31 people in the case. After convicting the accused, the court had awarded death sentence to 11 of them and life imprisonment to 20 others, while 63 accused were acquitted. The court upheld the prosecution case that the Godhra train attack was a pre-meditated. However, the Gujarat High Court in October 2017 commuted the death sentence of 11 convicts to life imprisonment while upholding the punishment awarded by the SIT court to 20 others.

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