Terming the acquittal of Swami Aseemanand and three others in the Samjhauta train bombing as a "travesty of justice" that "exposes the sham credibility of Indian courts", Pakistan on Wednesday summoned Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria to lodge a strong protest against the acquittal of the accused in the 2007 blast that left 68 people, mostly Pakistanis, dead.
A special court in Panchkula in Haryana acquitted Aseemanand and three others in the case.
The verdict came after NIA special judge Jagdeep Singh dismissed the plea filed by a Pakistani woman for examining eyewitnesses from her country, saying it was "devoid of any merit".
Pakistan's Acting Foreign Secretary summoned Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria to lodge Pakistan's strong protest, the Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement.
The Acting Foreign Secretary stressed that Pakistan had consistently raised the "lack of progress and the subsequent, concerted attempts by India to exonerate the perpetrators of this heinous terrorist act in which 44 innocent Pakistanis lost their lives".
Pakistan conveyed that it had raised the issue repeatedly, including on the sidelines of the Senior Officials, Heart of Asia Meeting in 2016. Formal demarches were also lodged regularly with India on the lack of progress and acquittal of the accused in other cases, the statement said.
The blast in the Samjhauta Express took place near Panipat in Haryana on February 18, 2007, when the train was on its way to Attari in Amritsar, the last railway station on the Indian side, killing 68 people.
The FO said that the acquittal of the accused, 11 years after the "heinous" Samjhauta blast "makes a travesty of justice and exposes the sham credibility of the Indian courts".
"It also belies the rampant Indian duplicity and hypocrisy where India reflexively levels allegations of terrorism against Pakistan, while protecting with impunity, terrorists who had publicly confessed to their odious crimes," said the FO.
It said that the Indian High Commissioner was told that "systemic Indian decision to gradually exonerate and finally acquit the perpetrators, was not only a gross reflection of India's "callous insensitivity" towards the families of the deceased Pakistanis but also "reflective of the Indian state policy of promoting and protecting Hindu terrorists".
Pakistan called upon India to explore judicial remedies to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice, according to the FO.
In New Delhi, official sources said the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the trial into the 2007 Samjhauta Express terror case was carried out in a "transparent" manner.
The sources said the Indian envoy highlighted that the due process of law was followed by the Indian courts and judicial system in a transparent manner.
He also called out the lack of cooperation from Pakistan, including in serving court summons to Pakistani witnesses in the case, the sources said, adding the summons were returned by Pakistan Foreign Office.
In Panchkula, 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."