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India, Pakistan: 66 people killed on the “Peace Train”

Categories: South Asia, India, Pakistan, Governance, Human Rights, International Relations, Media & Journalism, Politics, War & Conflict

66 people were killed on the Samjhauta Express with homemade bombs last night [1]. According to Wikipedia [2],

The Samjhauta Express is a bi-weekly train — Tuesdays and Fridays — that runs between Delhi and Attari in India and Wagah and Lahore in Pakistan. Until the reopening of the Thar Express, this was the only rail connection between the two countries.

Both Pakistanis and Indian were killed on the train. Some of the initial and early reactions in the blogosphere appear to indicate that bloggers find themselves confused as it was mostly Pakistanis who died, making it difficult to blame Islamic militants. But this terrorist attack comes at a time when Pakistan is already on high alert because of similar attacks recently. All Things Pakistan [3] says

Pakistan has recently seen a spate of bombings in its major cities, and even before this some in government were pointing towards a ‘foreign hand’ in these bombings. Both countries have long played this game of ‘blame the foreign hand’, including in the recent tragic train bombings in Mumbai. The impulse to do so at the first sign of trouble is a natural one in the sub-continent. Given the deep distrust that exists between the two, it may even be understandable. But irrespective of the short-term political gains such finger-pointing might gain, it is not a very useful way to deal with deep tensions.

Some blogs like Pass The Roti [4] are concerned that the investigation process may not be free of bias, and that the death of the passengers will probably be used for political mileage in both countries. Despite the obvious animosity between the governments of the two countries, there are people who have half their family across the border, or have experienced the other country and are worried about the threats to the relations between the countries. Nothing Adds Up [5] says

This is personally distressing also since I was aboard one of the first Samjhota Express trains to run after it was resumed in January 2004, when I visited New Delhi for an Economics Conference in early February 2004. That train ride was one of the highest points of my life, full of hope and excitement, and I hope they don't cut back or cancel it, just ratchet up security.

Meanwhile, Pacific Empire [6] reminds us that we're increasingly numb to acts of terrorism and the death of people.

There was a car bombing in Baghdad that killed more than 60 people today, as well, but I guess the media consider that normal. There were also waves of simultaneous bombings recently in Algeria and Thailand, and a courtroom bombing in Pakistan, not to mention smaller bombings in Afghanistan, St. Petersburg, Mogadishu, Uganda and even an ineffective mortar attack on US forces in Japan. How did we get to the stage where that level of world terrorism is nothing out of the ordinary?

At Retributions [7], the blogger wonders if Pakistan is being absolved of its responsibility by the media because Pakistani nationals died in the attack.

Even more strangely, CNN-IBN is parroting President Musharraf’s line of India and Pakistan being equal victims of terror-just because a few Pakistani nationals were also killed in the attack. While any loss of life is regrettable, Pakistani role can’t be ignored just because it’s nationals were also killed. Despite proclamations to the contrary, it continues to support anti-India terror organizations.

whatz in my mind [8] outlines the usual outcome of such incidents.

1) VIPS visit the spot.
2) Media will be covering the scenes exclusively. Interviewing survivors/victim's family/politicians.
3) Government/Police suspect X or Y terrorist groups involvement.
4) Opposition blame the government for not being pro-active.
5) A special commission will be formed to investigate the case.

The involvement of Hindu fundamentalist groups isn't ruled out either. At a forum called World Affairs Board [9], one person writes

From media news, it is clear that it was a planned terror attack. But, interesting thing to note would be if govt explores possibility of hindu terrorism. Considering the fact that majority targetted were pakistanis.

At the Bharat Rakshak Forum [10](Consortium of Indian Defence Websites), one of the persons writes –

It is important to have some clues as to the composition of the passengers. i.e. were they majority Shia/Ahmediya going back after observing some religious occasion ?? Is there any link to Afghan/Iranian Intelligence, who are determined to attack Pakistan both within and outside their borders ?

One thing that is absolutely sure is that *this is not intended to hurt any so-called peace process* because it gives pak politician and UPA the perfect opportunity to claim *peace process irreversible onlee* slogan…esp UPA since pak civilians have been killed in India. To investigate ‘Company hand’ is mandatory anyways, goes without saying…