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India under assault

Another "mindless" attack has been executed by terrorists on a civilian target, leaving sixty-eight dead on 19 February 2007 in the Delhi-Attari special train that links up with the Samjhauta (Understanding) Express, to Lahore - a crucial symbolic link between the subcontinent's divided people. The incident occurred within 100 kilometres of the train's departure from Delhi, at Deewana near Panipat in the north Indian state of Haryana.

Preliminary evidence suggests a sophisticated incendiary, and not explosive, device was placed inside as many as five suitcases - of which just two exploded. The remaining three, which failed to detonate, were recovered by investigators, giving the first significant leads in the case.

Any definitive identification of the perpetrators at the present stage of investigations is impossible, though on the morning of 20 February the police in Delhi released sketches of two suspects believed to have left the train shortly before the bombs exploded.

In political terms, the "needle of suspicion" swings once again towards the pack of Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist organisations that have engineered a long succession of attacks across the length and breadth of India, and which are an integral part of Pakistan's "Kashmir strategy".

As news of the latest terrorist excess broke, it was accompanied by the usual, equally mindless, questions in the media: what were the motives of the terrorists? Why now? Why this target? Was there a "security failure" or "intelligence failure"? Was the attack intended to shut down the Indo-Pak peace process - with Pakistan's minister of foreign affairs scheduled to visit New Delhi on 20 February? It seems almost as if this new atrocity appeared out of the void, the long and murderous history of Islamist terrorist violence in India altogether forgotten.

When the most recent Mumbai blasts occurred (July 2006), the pundits informed the world that the terrorists were targeting India's economic sinews; when the Indian Institute of Science was attacked in Bangalore (December 2005), India's technological and scientific capacities were thought to be the "new target"; when the temple at Varanasi (March 2006), and a mosque in Malegaon (September 2006), were hit, an abrupt "conspiracy" was seen to have been hatched to destroy India's "communal harmony". On each occasion, however, the terrorists have simply moved on to new targets of opportunity, their defining criteria of identification being their own operational capacities and networks, the damage they can inflict, and the sensation they can create.

Source: opendemocracy






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