COMMENT: The truth behind the Samjhauta tragedy —Naeem Tahir - Saturday, February 12, 2011

Source :\02\12\story_12-2-2011_pg3_3

The Samjhauta Express train of February 18, 2007 was to go on its journey of friendship just one day before the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan were to continue their dialogue in India to further the process of normalisation. From the point of view of the Hindutva terrorists, this was the appropriate time to act

The Samjhauta Express started from Delhi’s historic railway station on the night of February 18, 2007. It was brimming with people who had a reason to go to Pakistan. Some were returning after visiting relatives, some had come for marriages, some went sightseeing, some visited ancestral homes, some explored business opportunities and some had visited shrines. There was happiness, nostalgia, devotion and business interest. The journey from Delhi to Lahore is no ordinary journey — there are emotions attached to it. The Samjhauta Express is no ordinary train either. It is the symbol of the ambivalent attitude of the people of two countries that keep playing ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ with each other. Relations turn good or bad because of vested interests. Some political parties, particularly Hindutva supporters, are not interested in peace between the two countries. The Hindutva sentiments are in line with the extreme right in Pakistan and those possessing the Taliban mindset. Both draw their strength from hate and fear and propagate these to keep their vote bank intact. The Hindutva wants a religious Hindu identity for India — one caste and one religion instead of a secular identity. Any effort for good relations with Pakistan is not acceptable because they want a larger India. The talks aimed at normalising relations between India and Pakistan in 2007 were against the Hindutva theme and needed to be stopped. Hence the plan to sabotage the very symbol of friendship and accord, the train called Samjhauta.

The Samjhauta Express train of February 18, 2007 was to go on its journey of friendship just one day before the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan were to continue their dialogue in India to further the process of normalisation. From the point of view of the Hindutva terrorists, this was the appropriate time to act. They planned to blow up the train and blow up the talks with it. But the sabotage had to be planned shrewdly and cleverly to hide the real face of the saboteurs.

Bombs were planted — packed in passenger suitcases — and the ‘operators’ left the train near Panipat. The bombs exploded soon after their departure. This could have been done by a timing device or remote controlled action. The bombs exploded in two bogies and an inferno of fire burnt 70 passengers alive. They could not jump out as the doors had been locked to meet immigration requirements. The passengers in bogies number 10 and 11 were reduced to mere ashes. The unfortunate victims included children, men, women, the young and the old — all Muslims. Five or six Hindus or Sikhs also perished. Among the survivors were a husband and wife whose five children were burnt alive. The terrorists celebrated their success. The talks of friendship received a setback but later the two governments showed remarkable determination to continue their parleys.

Hindutva associates in the Sangh Parivar, having immense clout in the media and Indian government, flashed the news worldwide that the act of terror had been committed by two Muslims, namely Ghulam Rasul Kashmiri and Azmat Ali, with the support of Pakistani terrorists. The headlines were seen by millions in India and elsewhere along with the ‘finding’ that the attack appeared to be the handiwork of “Islamic terrorists” from Pakistan. Many believed this because terrorism has been associated with Pakistan since 9/11.

This could have been the end of the story, but it was not to be. The Haryana police, in whose jurisdiction the terror attack had occurred, responded urgently and tried to follow the ‘leads’ provided by the Hindutva set up. The Haryana police looked for Azmat Ali at his address. They reached his house only to be ridiculed and snubbed by the inmates because Azmat Ali had been dead for the last five years! They searched for Ghulam Rasul Kashmiri and found out that he had already been jailed for over a month for travelling without a ticket! The Hindutva/Sangh Parivar story collapsed. The Haryana police then traced the explosives because they found some unexploded suitcases on the train. The analysis of the explosives found that they contained material used by the Indian Army in Kashmir. The Haryana police started getting closer to the truth. The truth could have blown up the whole façade and Hindutva’s terrorist plans would have come to light, so something had to be done. The long arm of the Hindutva groups activated their supporters in the Indian intelligence and army and ordered the investigation to be taken away from the Haryana police. It was dumped for some time and they thought that they could live happily ever after.

This was not to be. Tired of inconclusive and suspicious investigations of these acts of terror, the Indian media started to raise its voice so much so that finally it was heard. The Indian government decided to appoint a distinguished, impartial and courageous officer as the chief of the Anti Terror Squad in Maharashtra, Mr Hemant Karkare. Karkare and his team started to study all the cases of terror that had taken place in the recent past in India. They looked at the Haryana police record, which pointed towards some Hindutva groups and, soon, evidence was provided by the explosions at the Malegaon mosque on the 27th of Ramzan in 2008. The bombs, in this case, were planted on the motorcycle used by Pragya Singh Sadvi, an activist of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Hemant Karkare’s discoveries were shocking for the Saffron Brigade, Hindutva believers and the Sangh Parivar. Politicians, army men, business tycoons as well as the religious swamis all faced exposure. The survival of Karkare and his team meant disaster for these people; his death could be their saviour. So Karkare got killed during the Mumbai carnage. But he had previously filed his case in court. By now, the Indian government has verified that the Samjhauta tragedy was the handiwork of Indian terrorists. Swami Asimanand, one of the accused, has spilled the beans. The names of Colonel Srikant Purohit and others have come to be known. Some facts of the Samjhauta tragedy are now public knowledge.

Sooner or later, the facts behind the Mumbai terror attacks and Karkare’s murder will surprise the world.

The writer is a culture and media management specialist, a researcher, author, director and actor

No comments:

Post a Comment