Samjhauta bungling: Religious labels for terror aside, serious questions must be asked of NIA’s efficacy

Following the acquittal of Swami Aseemanand in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blasts case, BJP has once again accused Congress of fabricating the theory of ‘Hindu terror’. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has alleged that the probe into the case focussed on establishing Congress’s line and ended up smearing all Hindus. A special NIA court recently acquitted Aseemanand and others citing severe deficiencies in the prosecution’s case. In fact, the judgment states that a dastardly act of violence remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence.

While political parties are wont to spin the judgment according to their convenience this election season, including in sectarian ways, in the real world two troubling aspects arise. First, the judgment lays bare the shoddy manner of investigation into the case. NIA failed to provide logical evidence that would have nailed the perpetrators of the crime. The judgment notes with surprise NIA’s failure to produce CCTV footage and railway station dormitory records, and its inability to conduct a relevant test identification parade to tie the accused to the crime. All of these should have been done in the normal course, which in turn would have helped in cracking the case one way or another. If this is the level of competence of the country’s premier anti-terror agency, it raises serious doubts about our counterterror capabilities.

Second, it will be recalled that in 2015 former special prosecutor Rohini Salian had said NIA asked her to go soft in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case where people associated with Hindu groups were accused. Thus, there are clear signs of unprofessionalism on the part of NIA. It’s unbecoming of the anti-terror agency if it fails to follow basic investigation procedures, allowing cases to fall through. It’s even more dangerous for India’s anti-terror efforts.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.

via Samjhauta bungling: Religious labels for terror aside, serious questions must be asked of NIA’s efficacy

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