The Train of Reconciliation
February 20, 2007 7:46 AM   Subscribe

The Samjhauta Express was fire-bombed yesterday night, killing 68 people as of now, of which 17 have been identified. Two of the suspectsfaces have been released to the media, and the governments of the two countries (India and Pakistan) have vowed to work together, for the time being at least. Further fears of attacks have increased security at Railway stations, and the Bus service from Delhi to Lahore.
posted by hadjiboy (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The front-line in the War on Terror is in Iraq.

Rinse, repeat.
posted by three blind mice at 8:07 AM on February 20, 2007

"Locking the train doors, despite clearance by security officials was the cause of large number of deaths, he said adding Indians admit to a “serious lapse which caused the most unfortunate disaster”."
"Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav admitted that there had been a security lapse at Delhi railway station, and then offered a substantial amount of blood money: Rs 10 lakhs per death, plus a railway job to the family of any Indian who had died. The dead do not return at the sight of a cheque in India or Pakistan, but it does help since life goes on."
So sad.

Those trains all have window bars too, which are at least equally responsible for trapping people.

Thanks for the interesting array of links hadjiboy. Despite the horrible circumstances it's good to see non-western press reports about this. Fingers crossed that this doesn't destablize talks/relations. I wonder if the earthquake problems last year helped initiate some cooperative links between bureaucrats at the head of emergency departments in India and Pakistan?
posted by peacay at 8:40 AM on February 20, 2007

Ah God, I hadn't known anything the significance of the train attacked. I was horrified enough when I first heard the news; that adds a whole new dimension to the awfulness of it all.
posted by Abiezer at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2007

Thank you hadjiboy. My first thought on reading the news was "Train to Pakistan"

the horror of it.
posted by infini at 10:28 AM on February 20, 2007


Awful. I hope they catch who did it.

"Many of the survivors we need to speak to will soon be in Pakistan," a senior Ministry of Home Affairs official told The Hindu.

"This investigation will be a real test of India-Pakistan counter-terrorism cooperation," he said.

posted by amberglow at 12:03 PM on February 20, 2007


Christian Science Monitor:
Mr. [Ajit] Doval [former director of India's intelligence bureau] said that he suspects the same perpetrators involved in previous attacks – namely Pakistan-based Islamist groups Lashkar-i Tayyaba and Jaish-e Muhammed.

What is baffling about the attacks, he says, is that the bombers are targeting Pakistani citizens.
posted by russilwvong at 12:31 PM on February 20, 2007

What is baffling about the attacks, [Ajit Doval, former director of India's intelligence bureau] says, is that the bombers are targeting Pakistani citizens.
Nothing baffling about it -- if you're not with us, you're against us. For Islamists, apostasy is punishable by death. Surely consorting with the Indian Devils is worse.

Incidentally, samjhauta means agreement or compromise; a sentiment out of favour in the world today. We don't negotiate with terrorists!
posted by phliar at 2:10 PM on February 20, 2007


(meanwhile, crores of Gujarati mussulmans go into hiding)

Gotta say that trying to get out of an Indian train that has been firebombed / derailed / fallen off a bridge into a river is one of my all-time highest nightmare scenarios. Getting on & off one at the best of times is a pretty slow process.

Those trains all have window bars too

Yep, although in recent years some of the bars have been replaced with sliding emergency-exit bars. Not many, though, maybe a few in every carriage. And probably not nearly large enough a space for the average middle-class Indian matron to fit through.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:14 PM on February 20, 2007

Those fearing further terrorist attacks on the Indo-Pak buses & trains can always make their own way to Wagah and cross there, where security is guaranteed one-hundred-percent top notch.

The face-off today should be interesting.

/inappropriately flippant
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:54 PM on February 20, 2007

Would the Pakistanis have done it this way so that people thought it was Hindus/Indians responsible? Has that ever been their M.O.? Have they been more aggressive lately (the Pakistanis making trouble)?
posted by amberglow at 5:09 PM on February 20, 2007

That sort of MO, known as a "black hat operation" (in which your goons commit atrocities pretending to be the enemy's goons) has been a standard CIA weapon for decades now, particularly in Latin America. Dress up as commies & blow up a kindergarten...voila! Anti-commie sentiment!

Considering the links between Pakistani Intelligence & the CIA (going back at least as far as the Afghan war against Russia, and the creation of the Taliban in Pakistani medrassas to fill the power void thereafter), I would not be surprised if the Pakis had taken a leaf from the book of the past-masters of the art.

All speculation, of course. Would they have anything to gain by arousing anti-Indian sentiment back home? No idea.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:29 PM on February 20, 2007

I was particularly aware that this train was known as the "Friendship Train." I guess the symbolism made it a target. It made me sad to think that.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:14 PM on February 20, 2007

Well, yes, but not necessarily solely due to the name.

I don't have Trains at a Glance (all-India timetable) on me at the moment, but AFAIK this is the only direct train between Delhi & Lahore, and that is where the symbolism lies.

The Indian railways are a phenomenally massive system, I think the largest employer in the world with something like 6 million people on the official payroll, and probably three times that number (at least) directly earning their living from it. The behinchod terrorists could have targetted any other of the thousands of trains running today had they wanted, the effect would have been considerably smaller.

Unless, of course, it was the Darjeeling Toy Train, in which case the simultaneous pain of ten million British gricers would have created a far larger disturbance in The Force.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:50 PM on February 20, 2007

Who was responsible for the Bombay explosions on trains a while ago? (it was a bunch of them all around the same time on different commuter trains, i think)

I don't put anything past Pakistan at all, especially now that we're "allies" with them--ugh. I really don't want to think we've taught that dictatorship and their thugs our dirty tricks.

India is where our interests lie, and where our future depends. I think most Americans feel that way (but we don't want more India/Pakistan horrors)
posted by amberglow at 8:21 PM on February 20, 2007

Sanjay Dutt seems to be the evil criminal mastermind, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was actually working for Mugambo.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2007

That was Mogambo.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:04 PM on February 20, 2007

for real?

Indian police said the Bombay ones in July were Pakistan--Pakistan's intelligence agency was behind the train blasts in Mumbai in July that killed 186 people, Indian police say.
The attacks were planned by the ISI and carried out by the Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba, based in Pakistan, Mumbai's police chief said. ...

I don't know if it's so tho.
posted by amberglow at 10:00 PM on February 20, 2007

Amber, from what I've heard, and this is all speculation, but word on the street was that the guys who were responsible for the Mumbai train blasts were the family members (surviving), of the victims of the Godhra Massacres. Again, all idle speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised.
posted by hadjiboy at 8:11 AM on February 21, 2007

oh, yeh, amberglow: that comment about Sanjay Dutt was a bit of an in(dian) joke. Sorry.

The guy is a Bollywood actor, who took his khal nayak (villain) role a little too seriously, and was found with a cache of military weapons in his possession, and has been 'linked' with the perpetrators of the 1993 Mumbai blasts...that was an attack on the stock exchange, or MSE, from memory.

Mogambo was a character from the film Mr India, in which an ordinary guy finds that he has the power of invisibility, takes on the superhero name "Mr India" and battles the Bond-villain styled Mogambo, a 'foreign power', trying to destabilise India. The question is, of course, why would you bother trying to destabilise the most stable country on earth? Unless you were Pakistan. Not entirely sure why a Paki would adopt a Swahili name, though, but, hey, it's Bollywood.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:58 PM on February 21, 2007

oh, yeh, amberglow: that comment about Sanjay Dutt was a bit of an in(dian) joke. Sorry.
It seemed too weird to be true, but then again, people like Sagal here have weird criminal friends too.

hadji, would they have done this too, or is it most likely Pakistanis?
posted by amberglow at 2:06 PM on February 21, 2007

(or maybe relatives of people killed in the Mumbai bombs?)
posted by amberglow at 2:06 PM on February 21, 2007

amberglow: the sad irony of The Partition means that it is also entirely possible that the relatives of those killed in the Mumbai bombs are Pakistani
posted by infini at 5:43 PM on February 21, 2007

I know so little about the ethnic breakdown per city or region--about the whole thing really. (I need to read up--I see the future as India and China being the new global heavyweights--i want India to prosper and be calm-ish, and do better than the US and USSR did in terms of ethnicity and minorities and opportunity and oppression and strife, etc)
posted by amberglow at 8:11 PM on February 21, 2007

« Older Whatever you call it, it goes best with free...   |   "You get what you pay for." - Mercedes-Benz... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments