By Safi Nasim
In a serious blow to justice-seeking voices in India, the acquittal of 200 Samjhauta Express bombing accused has raised many an eyebrow, and made virtual mockery of the overall functioning of justice system.
Voices are also saying that agencies are soft on the demon of Hindutva terror.
As a result, a gruesome episode of terrorism has remained and virtually gone unpunished. The realities and events that unfolded speak for themselves and do not need one to be scientist to witness the miscarriage of justice.
Importantly, going back into the past is necessary. When one visits the horror and terror inflicted on midnight of 18 February 2007 on the Samjhauta Express, a twice-weekly train service connecting Delhi, India, and Lahore, Pakistan. Bombs were set off in two carriages, both filled with passengers, just after the train passed Diwana near the Indian city of Panipat, 80 kilometres (50 mi) North of New Delhi. It was bloodbath and carnage. 70 people were killed in the ensuing fire and dozens more were injured. Of 70 fatalities, most were Pakistani civilians. The victims also included some Indian civilians and three railway policemen.
Since the attack came just a day before then Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri was to arrive in New Delhi to resume peace talks with Indian leaders.
The first steps seemed promising. Initially National Investigation Agency (NIA) charged eight people in the terrorist attack, including Swami Aseemanand, a Hindu cleric formerly affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
But recently all were let scot free. It gives rise to reality that when Muslim is killed or the victim of terrorism in India agencies don’t take it seriously and virtually do nothing to ensure justice is done.
The words of the Judge who pronounced the acquittal judgment reflect how justice is not done. Pertinently, NIA court Judge Jagdeep Singh said in his judgment that there are gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism has remained unsolved.
Even the political class of India suggested how agencies go soft and do nothing against Hindutva terror elements. The fact of the matter is that even the top leadership; elected parliamentarians have spoken on murder of justice in name of saving RSS elements.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisie Expressed his clear cut dissatisfaction on Swami Aseemanand and three others being acquitted in Samjhauta Express blast case. He also called the acquittal as ‘shoddy prosecution’.
Even the free media was vocal on how Hindutva terror elements are let free .As per the Reports of The Indian Express” the acquittals in the Samjhauta Express case are not exceptional. There seems to be a pattern in these terror cases, where the prosecution has been found wanting in securing convictions. Investigators have held that the Samjhauta Express blast was part of a string of six cases, in which Hindutva groups and activists allegedly conspired to target Muslims and their places of worship. The terror strikes included bomb blasts in the Ajmer Dargah and Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad in 2007 and Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, and among the accused were Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Shrikant Prasad Purohit, a lieutenant colonel in the Indian Army. Twelve years since the incidents took place, the prosecution has managed to secure convictions only in the Ajmer case — a special court sentenced two RSS pracharaks to life while Aseemanand was acquitted. Last year, a special court acquitted all the accused in the Mecca Masjid blasts case, in which nine persons had been killed. In all these cases, a large number of witnesses turned hostile during the long-winded trial. In the Malegaon case, NIA special prosecutor, Rohini Salian, had told this newspaper that she was under pressure from the agency to go slow. In fact, the NIA had dropped all charges against Pragya Thakur in the Malegaon blasts case in 2017. It was left to a special court to reinstate charges against her and Purohit under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a year later.
The realities show Hindu extremists backed by RSS and like- minded ideologies are finding a safe haven in India with unfortunately establishment playing into their hands and doing nothing.
The billion dollar question remains when will India wake up to the reality of Hindutva terror which unfortunately has remained an inconclusive dream.
The writer is a political analyst; views expressed by him are entirely his own.