Remembering Samjhota Express tragedy

Mohammad Jamil
ON February 18, 2007, at midnight, the Samjhota Express tragedy occurred when two of its bogies suddenly caught fire. The fire was so intense that even the steel structure of the bogies melted. According to reports citing police interrogation of an arrested suspect, Hindu extremists carried out the 2007 false flag attack on the Samjhota Express, which was previously blamed on Muslim groups. Four Improvised Explosive Devices were planted on Samjhota Express, the only rail link between India and Pakistan in which 68 lives were lost. The Samjhota terrorists’ act was planned on the standard operating procedure (SOP) of the Hindutva associates and their terror wings to put the responsibility on ‘Pakistani terrorists’. Anyhow, police discovered one of the suitcases that were thrown out of the train compartment and also the remains of the other suitcases that carried the explosive RDX.
The forensic reports indicated that some of the explosive materials were bought from a chemical company in Mumbai; however, the Haryana police zeroed in on an army Colonel Prohit as the provider. At this point, the higher intelligence authorities close to the Indian government were alerted, and they considered it essential that the Haryana police be stopped from further investigation. The government was briefed that the matter of the Samjhota Tragedy had ‘international implications’, and being very sensitive, the investigation should be taken away from the Haryana provincial police and handed over to a ‘central’ authority. A competent officer, Hemant Karkare, was appointed the head of the Anti Terror Squad in Mumbai, who refused to bow to political pressures from right wing extremist politicians. He started investigating various acts of terror and found the link between Colonel Prohit and the Samjhota Express fire.
It transpired that Hemant Karkare’s life was threatened by the Hidutva and the Sangh Privar groups like the VHP, Jan Sangh, Abhinav Bharat, Jagran Munch and several others. He completed his investigation and filed the case with the Nasik court in Mumbai. His report contained the details in over 4,000 pages and exposed the terror network of the Hindu extremists. Later, Hemant Karkare became the target of revenge by Hindutva terrorists, but it was propagated that he was killed by the firing of the terrorists in 26/11 terror attacks. But the death of anti-terrorism squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare continued to raise questions was killed on the night of 26/11 along with Additional Commissioner of police Ashojke Camte and encounter specialist Vijay Salasker. Kavita Karkare, the ATS chief’s widow said: “I still do not have the answers to several of my questions,”
In 2011, Swami Aseemanand a leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had confessed that he was involved in several bombings incidents including India-Pakistan Samjhota Express train bombing in 2007 in which 68 Pakistani nationals were killed. He was also involved in the bomb blast at Dargah Ajmer Sharif in Rajhasthan in October the same year. Swami Aseemanand did not change his confessional statement even after remaining in judicial custody for 48 hours and reiterated that he had carried out that terrorist activity. Swami Aseemanand had repeated the same statement in an interview with ‘Caravan’. On August 27, 2014, Swami Aseemanand – accused in three terror cases – had been granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the Samjhota Express blasts case.
Indian government did not challenge the bail granted to Swami Aseemanand, arrested for allegedly masterminding 2007’s deadly attack on the Samjhota Express. National Investigation Agency or NIA, which handles terrorism cases, had decided not to challenge the bail granted to Swami Aseemnanad stating “there were no grounds to challenge the Order in the Supreme Court”. The Home Ministry had informed Parliament at a time when the government faced allegations of wanting to shield Hindu extremists accused of terror. Pakistan had taken exception to the bail granted to Swami Aseemanand, and regretted that India was not keeping Pakistan informed about the progress of the case.
India was involved in false flag operations including Samjhota Express and Mumbai attacks, a fact that has been acknowledged by many even in India. During civil war in for East Pakistan, India through false flag operations had killed many Bengalis and blamed Pakistani army. However, India continues with anti-Pakistan propaganda. A propaganda video clip of approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds made by Sony TV channel has shown discussion between General Niazi, Commander Eastern Command and General JFR Jacob of Indian Army in a Command post of 1971 war, which is an effort to propagate superiority of Indian army as victorious force besides creating hatred in Bangladeshis against Pakistan and its armed forces Govts of India and Bangladesh are working together on many projects regarding their joint struggle for liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.
The initiatives include setting up of war museum, exchange of wartime documents, Indian army soldiers’ mausoleum, making of documentaries and feature films and issue of postal stamps depicting surrender by Pakistan Army in 1971. The school syllabus of Bangladesh has been altered and children are only taught the history starting from 1952 language movement and bulk of the syllabus is on 1971 war of liberation that spans over 9 months struggle starting from operation “Search Light” on 25 March 1971 to, what they claim, victory day of 16 December 1971. The Awami League government has included a 100 marks compulsory paper on liberation war history for CSS exams. All these initiatives aim at indoctrination of young generation Bangladeshis, as there is anti-India sentiment in previous generation.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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