The NIA special court on Monday will pronounce its verdict on the 2007 Samjhauta Express case in which as many as 68 people lost their lives after the train, which runs between India and Pakistan, was struck with a bomb blast. Here's all you need to know about the case -
The Samjhauta Express, also known as the Friendship express, was hit with a blast close to midnight on February 18, 2007. The incident took place near Panipat, resulting in 68 people losing their lives and a number of others suffering injuries.
A total of 299 witnesses were in the case, but only the statements of 224 were recorded by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Initially, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was alleged to be behind the attack, and the banned outfit's chief Safdar Nagori was questioned by the Gujarat police.
The investigation conducted by the NIA over a period of almost one year established that the entire conspiracy was allegedly hatched between 2005 and 2007 by Swami Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi and their associates like Ramachandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange, Lokesh Sharma and others at different places including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
In 2011, the NIA filed a chargesheet naming Aseemanand and the likes of Joshi (now deceased), Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange and Ramachandra Kalsangra as the accused in the Samjhauta Express case.
The alleged mastermind behind the attack, Swami Aseemanand, purportedly provided financial and logistical support to the terror group as well as instigating the attackers to undertake the terror attack.
The NIA on February 13 concluded its arguments in the Samjhauta Express blast case. Agency's conunsel Rajan Malhotra alleged that Sunil Joshi watched the attack take place on TV, following which he reportedly said "Achha hua, yeh kaam apne teacher alias Sandeep Dange aur uske ladko ka hai. Finally, usne kar hi diya. (It's a good thing. This was done by our teacher Sandeep Dange and his boys. Finally they have done it)”
The defence counsel argued that his clients were being falsely implicated in the crime, and that the NIA and agencies relating to the case forced the accused to 'confess'.