Samjhota Express Incident Revisited
By Sajjad Shaukat
On the midnight of 18-19 February 2007, India-Pakistan Samjhota Express train was bombed in which 68 Pakistani nationals were killed. A Hindu extremist leader Swami Aseemanand, a leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has confessed that he was involved in several bombings incidents. He also claimed to have been a part of the incident.
In fact, ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails in every field at the cost of other minority groups. It is even supported by Indian defense forces secretly. This could be judged from the incident, when on April 6, 2008 in the house of Bajrang Dal fundamentalists in Nanded, a bomb went off. The investigation proved that these militants were found in the bomb-making and attack on a mosque in Parbhani in 2003. Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra arrested a serving Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit along with other army officials, indicating that they were helping in training the Hindu terrorists, providing them with the military-grade explosive RDX, used in the Malegaon bombings and terrorist attacks in other Indian cities. ATS further disclosed that Lt. Col. Purohit confessed that in 2007, he was involved in bombing of Samjhota express, which burnt alive 70 Pakistanis.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) was convinced that Sadhu Swami Aseemanand, a Hindu right-wing leader was directly involved in the Samjhota Express blast. Sources in NIA further pointed out that besides Lt. Col. Purohit, other Indian army officials were also behind that train-bombing. In this regard, a court in Panchkula, Haryana has recorded Aseemanand’s statement which confirmed the NIA inquiry.
Aseemanand’s statement in the Samjhota Express blast case was recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before a magistrate. His earlier admission was recorded in the Mecca Masjid case, which was being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Sadhu Aseemanand stuck to his confession that Hindutva radicals were behind the bomb attack on the Samjhota Express. Aseemanand, Aka Naba and Kumar Sarkar, named absconding Hindutva militants—Ramji Kaisangra and Sandeep Dange as the key plotters in that terror attack.
Sources of the NIA also disclosed that the confession in connection with the Samjhota Express blast practically rules out the involvement of other groups.
In the Samjhota Express case, the probe team has found that the bomb used in the train waskept in a suitcase that was bought from a shop of Indore’s Kothari Market. The suitcase had cloth covers stitched by an Indian local tailor. The NIA was now trying to get details of those who bought the suitcase and covers.
It is notable that Dr. J C Batra, who is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, was asked to give opinion on Aseemanand’s confession. He appeared very defensive and as usual started accusing Pakistan’s its primary intelligence agency ISI—its so-called history for such activities, alleging that even this could be an ISI plot. He further said that Swami’s statement does not have much legal value as circumstantial evidence is also needed, while adding that RSS is being wrongly implicated and there could be others involved who are not being exposed. In this regard, a Pakistani parliamentarian, Mr. Mian Abdul Sattar, parliamentary secretary for planning and development, who was accompanying him, later stated that that he was told by Mr JC Batra that the Indian Army was involved in this case and there “are efforts to shield it from getting exposed”.
Swami Aseemanand also confessed in the court that several RSS preachers and Sang activists were directly involved in planning, financing and executing Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts. He stated that various leaders of Hindu communal organizations including Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram were also behind these blasts.
It is mentionable that in various tapes, LT. Col Purohit said, “We are all on the same plane, Hindu Rashtra (Nation)”. He even claimed that Gen. J J Singh is “with us”. (Former Singh was Army Chief till Sept. 2007). Significantly, Purohit mentioned that “one of our own captain had visited Israel”, and demanded “continuous supply of arms, training, an office with a saffron flag in Tel Aviv, political asylum and support for our cause of a Hindu Nation in the UN.” The Israelis, he added, gave “a very positive response.”
In this context, exposing the nexus between Bhartia Janta Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the then Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde disclosed on January 20, 2013 that organized training camps run by the fundamentalist parties, RSS and BJP were promoting Hindu Terrorism. He also explained that these extremist parties were behind the Samjhauta Express, Meccca Masjid and Malegaon blasts. He added, “We will have to think about it (Saffron terrorism) seriously…Hindu extremist parties BJP and RSS were involved many times in Hindu Muslim violence in India, especially Gujarat and Babri masjid incident.”
The then India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid endorsed Shinde’s statement, saying that it was based on facts. Meanwhile, Indian Home Secretary R K Singh revealed that during investigation the government had found ten names of the Hindu extremists, associated with RSS, who were involved in these terror attacks including Ajmer Sharif.
Similarly on July 19, 2013, the Indian ex-investigating officer Satish Verma disclosed that terror-attacks in Mumbai in November 26, 2008 and assault on Indian Parliament in January 12, 2001 were carried out by the Indian government to strengthen anti-terrorism laws.
While, India has always accused Pakistan’s ISI of these acts of terrorism, but it is quite silent over Hindutva-terror which has obtained a new face, under the fundamentalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Indian RAW, country’s high officials and fundamentalist parties have co-relationship.
Nevertheless, despite the confessions of Swami Aseemanand, instead of taking action against the culprits of the Samjhota Express explosion, the Supreme Court of India accepted the bail of Swami Aseemanand after the covert interference of the Modi-led authorities who changed the investigations in this respect in order to weaken the case.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations