Twelve years after a blast on Samjhauta Express killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis, a special court Wednesday acquitted Swami Aseemanand and three others in the case that Islamabad has often cited to counter Indian charges of Pakistan-sponsored terror.
Before giving the verdict, the judge dismissed the plea filed by a Pakistani woman for examining some eyewitnesses from her country.
The court ruled that the plea of the Pakistani woman was devoid of any merit, Malhotra said.
The blast had ripped apart two coaches of the cross-border train.
The Haryana police registered a case, but the probe was handed over to the NIA in July 2010.
The NIA filed a charge sheet in July 2011 against eight persons for their alleged roles in the terror attack.
Sunil Joshi, the alleged mastermind of the attack, was shot dead near his home in Madhya Pradesh's Dewas district in December 2007.
The NIA had charged the accused with murder and criminal conspiracy, and under the Explosive Substances Act and the Railways Act.
Aseemanand's counsel Mukesh Garg said, The court has said that the NIA has failed to prove any of its charges against the accused and the evidence against them was treated as not sufficient. Therefore, the court acquitted them.
There were 299 witnesses in the case and 224 of them were examined.
There was not one witness who identified the accused, Garg further said.
The accused were implicated in this case under a conspiracy, he added.
Momin Malik, the counsel for Pakistani woman Rahila Wakeel, said he was expecting that the court would defer the matter to the next date even if the plea of his client stood dismissed.
He said he will discuss the verdict with his client before deciding the next course of action.
They then conspired to seek "revenge", the NIA argued.
The Samjhauta Express blast was one among the series of three bombings in 2007, with Aseemanand being an alleged link between them. On May 18 that year, a blast in Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid killed nine people. In October, an explosion in Ajmer's famed Khwaja Chishti shrine claimed three lives.
Wednesday's acquittal is his third.
In March 2017, he was absolved in the Ajmer case and in April last year, he was acquitted in the Mecca Masjid case.
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