NIA Ok With Bail for Aseemanand in Samjhauta Express Terror Case

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NIA Ok With Bail for Aseemanand in Samjhauta Express Terror Case

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File photo of Swami Aseemanand

New Delhi:  The government does not plan to challenge the bail granted to Swami Aseemanand, arrested for allegedly masterminding 2007's deadly attack on the Samjhauta Express, a train headed to Pakistan, in which killed 68 people were killed.

Swami Aseemanand, 78, who remains in a jail in Haryana for other terror cases, was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court last year in the Samjhauta Express case. The National Investigation Agency or NIA, which handles terrorism cases, has decided "there were no grounds to challenge the Order in the Supreme Court", the Home Ministry has informed Parliament at a time when the government faces allegations of wanting to shield Hindu extremists accused of terror. (Read: Special Public Prosecutor Alleges Attempt to Sabotage Malegaon Blast Case in Supreme Court)

In February 2007, the Samjhauta Express, a bi-weekly train between Delhi and Lahore, was bombed just as it passed Panipat in Haryana. Of the nearly 70 people who were killed, most were Pakistanis. Swami Aseemanand, arrested in November, 2010, was charged with murder and sedition. He is also accused of organising two other terror attacks that year - blasts at Hyderabad's famous Mecca Masjid and at the Ajmer Dargah in Rajasthan.

The government's decision not to oppose bail for the saffron robe-wearing monk will create tension with Pakistan ahead of a meeting planned later this month between the National Security Advisors of both countries. India has repeatedly expressed its anger with a Pakistan court granting bail to terrorist Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed in 2008. Pakistan has, in turn, blamed India for the slow trial of Swami Aseemanand, a key figure in cases of "Hindu terrorism" - a label used by the previous Congress-led government to describe a slew of attacks linked to right-wing militant groups.

Recently, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the phrase had weakened India's fight against terror, alleging that it had allowed Pakistan to shirk responsibility for other terror strikes in India.

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