Panchkula: An anti-terror court trying the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case on Thursday adjourned its hearing to March 18 due to an ongoing strike by local lawyers.
Special Judge Jagdeep Singh deferred the hearing because of the strike, NIA counsel Rajan Malhotra said.
“We were not allowed to enter the court complex by the protesting advocates, said Malhotra, adding the matter was adjourned to March 18.
Local lawyers went on an indefinite strike on March 12 in protest against a judicial magistrate’s alleged misbehaviour with an advocate.
Meanwhile, Mukesh Garg, counsel for accused Swami Aseemanand, sought to refute a Pakistani woman’s claim in her application to the court that the eyewitnesses to the blast from her country were not served summonses for the deposition.
Pakistani witnesses were summoned at least six times but there was no response from them, he said.
Pakistani woman Rahila Wakeel, the daughter of a blast victim, Muhammad Wakeel of Dhingrawali village in Hafizabad district of Pakistan had moved the court on Monday seeking examination of the blast eyewitnesses from her country.
On March 11, the court had posted the matter for Thursday after taking the woman’s plea on record and issued a notice to the National Investigation Agency to respond to her plea.
The blast in Samjhauta Express had occurred near Panipat in Haryana on February 18, 2007, when the train was on its way to Attari in Amritsar, the last railway station on the Indian side.
The blast had ripped apart two coaches of Samjhauta Express, killing 68 people, mostly Pakistani nationals.
Haryana police had registered a case, but the probe was handed over to the National Investigation Agency in July 2010. After its probe, the NIA filed a chargesheet in the case in June 2011, indicting eight persons for their alleged roles in the terror attack.
Of the eight persons, Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan and Rajinder Chaudhary appeared before the court and faced trial.
Blast mastermind Sunil Joshi was killed in December 2007, while three other accused – Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange and Amit could not be apprehended and were declared proclaimed offenders.
Aseemanand is out on bail while three others are still in judicial custody.
The NIA had charged the accused with murder and criminal conspiracy, besides other relevant provisions of the Explosive Substances Act and the Railways Act.
In its probe, the NIA had concluded that the accused were upset with the terror attacks on Hindu temples – Akshardham (Gujarat), Raghunath Mandir (Jammu) and Sankat Mochan Mandir (Varanasi).
They had conspired together to trigger the blast in the Pak-bound train, largely carrying Pakistani nationals, to avenge the spate of terror attacks in various temples of the country.