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NIA to probe Samjhauta case link with 3 other blasts

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency's probe into the Samjhauta Express blasts will cover links with the explosions in Malegaon, Ajmer Sharief and the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Home Minister P Chidambaram said here on Friday.

There was no move as yet to transfer the other three blast cases to the NIA since investigations were being carried out by the State agencies. The Mecca Masjid blast is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Ajmer and Malegaon blasts are being probed by the anti-terrorism squads of the Rajasthan and Maharashtra police.

Mr. Chidambaram was answering questions after presenting his Ministry's report card for July.

The unsolved Samjhauta Express case was transferred to the NIA following concurrence by Haryana, in whose jurisdiction a bomb tore through two compartments of the India-Pakistan train in February 2007, killing 68. Since then during India-Pakistan talks, New Delhi has been seeking information on the progress made in probing the 26/11 Mumbai attacks while Islamabad always asks for a status report on the train blast investigation.

Explaining the rationale behind entrusting the train blasts probe to NIA, the Minister said its mandate was to investigate only terrorism related cases. Some unsolved cases were also handed over to the NIA because the government was keen on getting to the bottom of the matter.

Asked about Hindutva organisations being suspects in the Samjhauta and other three blasts, he declined to speculate. “If we could do that, why would we hand it over to the NIA? Since the Haryana police has not been able to crack the case, with their [the State's] consent, the case has been handed over to the NIA.”

However, several political parties, alleging Hindutva links in all the four cases, accuse the Centre of being fixated on terrorism emanating from Muslim extremism.

The CPI(M) has opposed separate investigations and called for a coordinated probe. It also alleged that three persons arrested for the Ajmer Sharief Dargah blast (2007) were linked to the Abhinav Bharat organisation, which is said to behind the Malegaon blast (2008). Their involvement is also suspected in the Mecca Masjid blast (2007) as the SIM card found in Ajmer belonged to the same batch used to trigger the Hyderbad blast.

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