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India Charges Hindu Activists for Bombs on Pakistan Peace Train

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- India charged five Hindu activists for their involvement in the 2007 bombing of a Pakistan-bound train service that killed 68 people, an attack earlier blamed on Muslim extremists.

Two of the accused are in custody, one is dead and two others are absconding, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement yesterday in New Delhi. The National Investigation Agency told a special court in the northern state of Haryana that the men conspired to cause the blasts to avenge attacks on Hindu temples, the statement said.

Explosions ripped through two carriages of the Samjhauta Express near Panipat, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of New Delhi, on Feb. 18, 2007. Most of those killed were Pakistanis travelling home. Samjhauta means concord in Hindi and the service was started to forge closer links between ordinary people in the nuclear-armed neighbors and rivals.

Indian investigators had initially said terrorist groups based in Pakistan were responsible for the explosions aboard the service that links New Delhi and Lahore in Pakistan. India and Pakistan said the attack was aimed at disrupting their peace process.

The accused men sought revenge against Muslims after a series of blasts at Hindu temples in India, according to the statement. The train was chosen as a target as most of the passengers who travel on it are Pakistanis, it said.

Hyderabad Blast

One of those charged yesterday, Swami Aseemanand, also known as Naba Kumar Sarkar, “not only provided financial and logistical support to the terror group which executed” the bombing “but also played a vital role in instigating and motivating his associates to undertake this terrorist act,” said the statement.

Aseemanand on May 12 denied any role in the blasts when he appeared at a bail hearing, the Press Trust of India reported. He was earlier charged by the NIA as one of the main conspirators behind a 2007 bombing at a mosque in the southern city of Hyderabad that killed nine people.

Peace talks between India and Pakistan were finally broken off in the wake of the 2008 guerrilla assault on Mumbai, in which 166 people died. India blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group for carrying out the raid and has demanded that Pakistan dismantle it.

The neighbors restarted peace efforts last year and their foreign secretaries will hold the latest round of talks this week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hari Govind at hgovind@bloomberg.net

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