This is the second time round that investigators are making an attempt to crack the Samjhauta blasts of February 2007 in which 68 persons, a majority of them of Pakistani origin, were killed.
When a probe in this case first commenced investigators suspected the Lashkar-e-Tayiba's role in the blast. However, now with the NIA stepping in the investigation appears to have taken a different turn. They suspect that the terror group that carried out the Malegaon blasts is behind the Samjhauta blasts as well. Sources told rediff.com that the investigations would rely heavily upon the statements of Swami Aseemanand.
Investigators say that they have been on the trail of this group ever since Sadhvi Pragya Singh was arrested in connection with the Malegaon case. This led to the arrests of Colonel Shrikanth Purohit and Dayanand Pandey, a self-proclaimed godman who also spoke vaguely about the Samjhauta blasts. The clincher, however, was Pandey's statement during a narco analysis test in Bengaluru where he revealed that the blasts were planned by them and were finally executed by the sadhvi and Purohit.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, which was then probing the Malegaon case under Hemant Karkare, had mentioned Purohit's role in the blast in his remand application. However, the ATS did not get any more information in the Samjhauta case and went ahead and filed a chargesheet in the Malegaon case.
When one of the investigators in the Samjhauta case was asked as to why there was a lull regarding investigations, he drew attention to the fact that Pandey had spoken about the mastermind of the blast. "We acquired details regarding the suspect, but did not want to reveal his name. Our team had to launch a manhunt for him before collecting more evidence," the investigator said.
Today, they believe that the man who Pandey had spoken about was Aseemanand. "He will be crucial to the investigation and will now need to take the probe forward from where Pandey had left it," they said.
Investigators have revealed that the sadhvi, Sunil Joshi, the former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist and the main accused in the Ajmer and Mecca blasts case, and few others held a meeting in 2006 at Gujarat where they decided to avenge the March 2006 blasts at Sankat Mochan in Varanasi by carrying out attacks at Mecca Masjid, Ajmer and in the Samjhauta Express. Following this meeting, there was another one in Indore in which the plan to spread terror was finalised. The Haryana police tracked the material procured for these blasts from the Kothari market in Indore.The NIA now has its task cut out and will probe Aseemanand to get a final clarity on this case. An application was submitted before the Panchkula court seeking custody of Aseemanand to probe him in connection with this case. The application submitted is attached with material that they have gathered against the swami.