Startling revelations by Kamal Chouhan are helping investigators understand how the Samjhauta Express bombs were brought to the capital, who all took it to the railway station and the sequence of events leading to the tragedy that killed 68 passengers, most of them Pak nationals. Tomorrow marks the fifth year since that attack.
Chouhan, arrested last Sunday and produced in court earlier this week, has reportedly said that he has no “regrets” over the Samjhauta bombing. He is said to have told interrogators that there were four “planters” who came in two separate groups to Old Delhi Railway station with four suitcases, each one carrying a bomb.
Chouhan has said that he was among 11 people who were given arms training at RSS camp at Bagli in early 2006 and also part of the “firing lessons” — organised by Sunil Joshi (now dead) — given to eight people in Faridabad in April 2006.
Chouhan has said that in the group that received the initial arms training, there were Joshi, Ramji (Ramachandra Kalsangra, who is on the run), Sandeep Dange (absconding) and Lokesh Sharma (in jail).
Chouhan said that on February 15, 2007, three days before the bombing, he received a phone call from Sharma in Indore who told him that “the time for work has come”, and asked him to come to the Indore railway station to “accompany him on a journey”. Chouhan claims he didn’t ask for details but knew that “they were going to plant a bomb somewhere”.
At the railway station, Chouhan told investigators, he met Lokesh who had two suitcases. “I pulled one and found it is heavier, heavier than a suitcase with clothes. He (Lokesh) had arranged the train reservation already. We had confirmed tickets,’’ he said. Investigators are not sure what names were used.
Chouhan and Lokesh boarded Intercity Express to Hazrat Nizamuddin. Chouhan said Lokesh used a chain to lock the suitcases. He said they avoided all talk of their “mission” because there were people around. Both reached Nizamuddin the next morning from where they went to the Old Delhi Railway Station where they checked into a dormitory. They kept the suitcases in the room and went for a stroll, had lunch near Red Fort and it was then that they discussed the bombing plan, Chouhan told investigators.
That evening, Chouhan told investigators, they waited for Samjhauta Express to pull in. “Lokesh took the briefcase that he was carrying and boarded the train and left it there. He had asked me to wait. Then he came back and took the briefcase that I was carrying and went to another compartment,’’ Chouhan told investigators. “After this, we left the station immediately.’’
On their way out, Chouhan reportedly said, they saw two of their associates on the platform. “They were at a little distance. I recognised them but we didn’t talk, they also had come with two bombs.”Investigators have already identified the other two planters, one of them is from Nashik. Their names aren’t being revealed. Interestingly, Lokesh Sharma, booked for his role in Samjhauta bombing in the chargesheet filed by NIA against Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Asimanand, Sunil Joshi, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange on June 20, 2011, is already in jail. He is likely to be questioned again. After Chouhan’s revelations, investigators are once again examining CCTV camera footage from the Old Delhi railway station.
Regarding the source of the bombs, Chouhan has told investigators that these were given to Lokesh by Ramji. Four IEDs were planted in unreserved compartments of the Samjhauta Express, of which the IEDs in the 12th
and 13th compartments exploded. The explosion was followed by fire in the compartments. One unexploded IED in a suitcase was recovered from the 15th compartment, which exploded in the process of being defused. One unexploded IED in a suitcase was recovered from the spot down the railway line (near the 15th compartment)