Samjhauta Express blast: ‘India to share information when probe is complete’


Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram has said that New Delhi will share information with Islamabad on the Samjhauta blast case once investigations are complete.

In an exclusive interview with Munizae Jahangir of Express 24/7, the minister said that he has already briefed Interior Minister Rehman Malik on this matter. The February 2007 terrorist attack on the Pakistan-India friendship train service in Panipat had killed 68 people, including 42 Pakistani nationals. Islamabad has stepped up pressure on New Delhi after reports said a jailed Hindu extremist leader confessed to his involvement in several terrorist incidents, including the Samjhauta Express attack.

Media reports said Swami Aseemanand, a leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), confessed before a judicial magistrate that he and his fellow RSS activists were involved in blasts on the Samjhauta Express, at mosques in Malegaon in Maharashtra state and Andhra Pradesh’s state capital, Hyderabad, and a Muslim shrine in Ajmer in Rajasthan.

The RSS shares close ties with India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. Aseemanand was arrested by authorities in November last year. In his confession he reportedly said the bombings were in retaliation for Muslim militants attacking Hindu temples. But India has refused to hand over his confession to Pakistan, saying that the probe is still not complete and that Pakistan’s demand is premature.

Responding to allegations of India’s involvement in Balochistan, Chidambaram claimed New Delhi has no interest in the province. “We have no interest in Balochistan. It is for the Pakistan government to deal with in whatever way they seem appropriate.”

Answering a question about former president Musharraf’s claim that his government had handed over evidence to the Karzai government on the involvement of Indian consulates in Kabul in Balochistan, Chidambaram said he knew nothing about any such dossier. The home minister added that he had asked Interior Minister Rehman Malik to provide a list of those involved in creating unrest in the province, so they could be punished.

Chidambaram also expressed disappointment over Pakistan’s progress in the Mumbai attacks case. “People being arrested are not key players behind 26/11. We have given a list of six to seven people who are the main people involved in the Mumbai attacks. We have given their names, possible addresses, photos. None of them have been arrested in seven to eight months,” he said.

The Indian home minister said that composite dialogue could not take place unless concrete action is taken in this regard. “Foreign Minister Qureshi unilaterally offered that voice samples will be made available to India. And then we will match it with the voice samples of the handlers of the 26/11. But not one voice sample has been given to us so far.

We have to conclude regretfully that Pakistan is not keen to prosecute perpetrators of the 26/11 attack,” he said. India and Pakistan have been stuck on the issue of investigation regarding Mumbai attacks which caused the deaths of more than a hundred. In response, a special court in Mumbai last year awarded the death sentence to Kasab, while the trial of seven others accused in Pakistan is being conducted by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi.

The interview will be aired in Express News’ programme ‘Pakistan Poochta hai’ at 8 pm on Tuesday.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2011.


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