Editorial : Travesty of justice: On Samjhauta case acquittals

The Samjhauta blast case raises doubts about India’s resolve to prosecute terror cases
The acquittal(बरी/रिहाई ) of Swami Aseemanand and three others brought(लाया) to trial(परीक्षण ) for the killing of 68 people on board the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express near Panipat in February 2007 is bound to be seen as a travesty(आघात/उपहासात्मक रचना) of justice.
Any acquittal in a heinous(जघन्य /घोर) crime will raise questions about the credibility(विश्वसनीयता ) of the investigation(जाँच पड़ताल) or the effectiveness(प्रभावशीलता) of the prosecution(अभियोजन) ; but there are some cases in which the outcome may also spark cynical(सनकी /निंदक) responses ranging from attribution(श्रेय/अधिकार) of politicalmotive(मकसद ) to suspicion of institutional(संस्थागत) bias(पूर्वाग्रह/पक्षपात) . The train blast case, in which both Indian and Pakistani citizens died, may evoke(बुलाना/जाग्रत करना) all such responses. It casts a shadow on India’s ability(योग्यता/सामर्थ्य)and resolve(संकल्प) to probe(जांच ) and prosecute major acts of terrorism. It is the third case in which Aseemanand has been acquitted(अपराधमुक्त). He was earlier cleared of involvement(भागीदारी/संयुक्त करना) in the Ajmer Dargah blast, which killed three persons in October 2007, and the Mecca Masjid blast that left nine dead in Hyderabad in May 2007. Aseemanand, a.k.a. Naba Kumar Sarkar, was a key figure, according to the prosecution(अभियोग), behind a Hindu right-wing group that wanted to avenge(दण्ड देना/बदला लेनाincidents(घटनाओं) such as the Akshardham temple massacre of 2002. The contours of ‘saffron terror’ were revealed(प्रकट/खुलासा ) by Aseemanand in 2010 when he gave a lengthy statement before a magistrate, detailing the planning and execution(कार्यान्वयन/अमल में लाना) of some key terrorist attacks between 2006 and 2008. This confession(इकबालिया बयान/दोष-स्वीकृति) failed to convince the trial courts, mainly because of his subsequent(आगामी/बाद का) retraction(त्याग/इनकार). That he was in police custody(हिरासत) at the time also cast a doubt whether it was voluntary(स्वेच्छापूर्ण ).
There appears(आभास होना/रूप लेना) little doubt that the blast was aimed at destroying( नष्ट करना) attempts(प्रयास ) to build friendly ties between India and Pakistan, and it is possible that extremists(चरमपंथियों) of any hue may have been behind it. However, the change of regime(शासन ) at the Centre in 2014 seemed to have weakened the National Investigation Agency’s resolve. Details of the verdict(निर्णय/मत) are not yet available, but it is clear that the prosecution case collapsed(ढहना/हिम्मत हारना) after key witnesses turned hostile(शत्रुता /प्रतिरोधी) . The trial proceedings opened in February 2014, but by early 2015 witnesses began turning hostile. Among these were one who removed a mobile phone from the body of Sunil Joshi, a prime accused in the case who was murdered in December 2007, and another who bought mobile phones and electric detonators.On the flip side(उल्टी ओर,), the fact that some early suspects were Muslims and that the U.S. and the UN had linked Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives(कार्यकर्ता) such as Arif Qasmani to the blasts could have been important factors. The larger concern for the criminal justice system is whether such acquittals indicate(संकेत ) innocence(निर्दोषता ) , or the prosecution’s lack of freedom and resolve to obtain(प्राप्त) a conviction(दोषसिद्धि/धारणा) .

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