On night of Feb 18, 2007, bomb blasts tore through two carriages of Samjhauta Express as it travelled past Panipat towards Amritsar on way to Pakistani border. – File Photo

NEW DELHI: Hindu extremists carried out the 2007 false flag attack on the Samjhauta Express, which was previously blamed on Muslim groups, local reports said citing police interrogation of an arrested suspect.

They said Kamal Chauhan, a disgruntled worker of the Hindu revivalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS, National Volunteer Corp), was arrested on Sunday by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from Noida near Delhi.

According to the NIA, Mr Chauhan had planted the bombs on board the Samjhauta Express after undergoing training in arms and explosives in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.

The accused was taken to Panchkula court in Haryana, which granted NIA his custody till February 24 for questioning him on his alleged role in the blast in the Delhi-Lahore train that left 68 people, mostly Pakistanis, dead. Some garbled TV clips showed Mr Chauhan as admitting to his crime but the clips were blurred and inaudible.

NIA investigations revealed that Mr Chauhan along with Ramchandra Kalasangra, alias Ramji, and Lokesh Sharma, also charged in the case, planted the explosives in the train at Old Delhi, from where the train originates, NIA’s Special Prosecutor R. K. Handa said outside the court after the in-camera proceedings in the case.

Mr Chauhan is believed to be a close aide of Kalasangra and Sandeep Dange, key accused in the Samjhauta case. The NIA had sought his remand for a fortnight.

“We have to unearth his complete involvement and association. During investigations, it has come to light that Chauhan underwent extensive training in handling of weapons and explosives. He took training at Karni Singh shooting range in Faridabad (Haryana) and a register seized by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) on August 10, 2011 has the entries of his name in that shooting range. He also took explosives and arms training at Bagli in Dewas (Madhya Pradesh),” Mr Handa said.

“To unearth more information about execution of the plan, preparations that were made, a thorough investigation is required, for which we have sought the remand,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Chauhan’s counsel Anil Soni and Shailender Babbar alleged that his arrest was “politically motivated” and aimed at influencing the ongoing polls in Uttar Pradesh while his family said he was a farmer by profession and in “no way involved in the crime”.

The NIA has concluded that the bombs used in the blast were prepared by Dange, a right wing militant who is absconding and is alleged to be the core of attacks planned and executed since 2002.

NIA is also looking for Dange’s close associate Mr Kalasangra in connection with the case.

After a four-year probe, the NIA had on June 20, 2011, charged Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi (now dead), Lokesh Sharma, Dange alias Parmanand and Kalasangra for hatching a criminal conspiracy which resulted in blasts in the Samjhauta Express near Deewana railway station in Haryana’s Panipat district, about 80 km from Delhi. NIA is also investigating the role of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Indresh Kumar in the blasts.

Swami Aseemanand and Mr Sharma are already in judicial custody.

Apart from Ajmer Dargah blast, which claimed three lives and left 15 others injured, Aseemanand and Sharma are accused in several other blast cases across the country, including those at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and Malegaon.

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