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Monday, February 19, 2007

Another Massacre, Another Set Of Conspiracy Theories

Sixty-seven people are dead in the latest train terror attack - this time on Samjhauta Express, which was taking mostly visiting Pakistanis back to their country. The attack was perpetrated using rudimentary explosives fortified by gasoline bottles to generate maximum heat and damage to the compartments.

Because the design of the railway bogies is probably hundred years old (government owns the coach building company and its happy building the same bogies decade after decade - like the unchanged ambassador car), the windows of bogies still have iron rods and people couldn't get out from the inferno - a few were rescued from windows that did not have the rods. If the bogie designers think the rods have a purpose - mostly to protect travelers inside, they should at least install latches to release the rods for quick escape in emergencies such as fire or flooding.

As soon as the dead were counted, conspiracy theories started in the classic Indian tradition: Islamic terrorists did it; fundamentalists Hindus did it; people in the Indian government did it; and finally, the next-Musharraf (apparently next want-to-be president of Pak) did it.

Those who believe Islamic terrorists are hapless victims of Gujarat massacres are probably looking at the list of traveler names trying to identify how many of them are Gujarati names, especially those traders and business folks who apparently support Modi, and looking for any statements from terror groups putting the blame on Muslims being under siege in the country. Some are probably working to write blogs and op-eds and books on how to save and protect the still to be arrested and prosecuted terrorists.

Those who believe Muslims are incapable of such heinous acts - after all, Jews attacked World Trade Center (or was it a CIA conspiracy) and are behind most terrorist attacks - are probably looking at dates. When did Gujarat massacres happen? When did Congress I men light fire to the train at Godhra to kill the hapless RSS sanikas traveling through? When did Ayodhya happen? When did partition's original idea take seed? If any of the dates match up with 19th or mid-February, it must be the Hindus revenge killings - after all most of the dead are Pakistanis and probably all of them are Muslims. 27 February 2002! Close enough. Godhra train burning. Fifth anniversary? Even better! Must be the Hindus. Now why would they attack Pakistanis? Why won't they attack local Muslims if it was revenge that they seek? And why not in Gujarat instead of in Haryana/Delhi? The answer to the obvious questions would be sure Gujarat was actual site of training burning but there were clashes in UP too, remember. And so there is cause and motivation.

Another theory is someone in Indian government conspired with Indian security/intelligence forces to derail the peace process. This is classic Pak's explanation for any terror on Indian soil - their own forces did it to discredit Pak and its good-natured jihadis. But there is new constituent for this theory in India now - one just has to follow the utter bizarre theories given to save Mohd. Afzal, the terrorist who planned and attacked Indian seat of democracy, from hanging. (It was the BJP government in cahoots with Indian intelligence agencies that attacked the parliament and framed the peacenik Afzal.) By extension, Indian government can plant a bomb to stop the peace talks to be held between the foreign ministers in few days. But the bomb is too crude for intelligence agencies? But that's the point, isn't it. How else can conspirators shift blame to Islamic terrorists if the bombs weren't crude.

And the last theory that the Pak establishment did it to stop the peace process so that a Musharraf-in-waiting can topple Musharraf and be the next general president of Pak. Of all the conspiracy theories surrounding this tragedy this, I have admit, is most bizarre! It's like India attacking US to stop terror-training camps in Pak! After India defeats the US, it can use US capabilities - both hard and soft - to stop the training camps in Pak. Why not depose the general in Islamabad or Rawalpindi itself? It's not like Gen Mush was elected democratically. A coupe to depose the leader of previous coupe - what could be more simpler. And if the next leader is another Musharraf, the world probably won't mind.

My intuition is that the bombs were rudimentary because the terrorists didn't have enough training or don't have access to RDX, and the like sophisticated and compact explosives, used in Mumbai bombing, last July, that massacred two hundred people. The timing and target and victims points surely to Indian-Pak peace process - the burning down of bus station when bus service started from Srinagar to Pak, in April 2005, comes to mind. It's a message to Pak - don't make the peace deal India. If Pak does make a deal with India, the jihadi infrastructure in Pak is unnecessary and will have to be shut down. That's a major problem for the global jihadi groups like al-Qaeda or more local jihadi groups like JeM.

We should know, in the next few days, weeks, and months, who the terrorists are and what their motivation is. Watch closely to the reporting provided by Praveen Swami of The Hindu - I can't think of anyone who does a better job of analyzing and reporting post-terror attacks investigation.

Cross-posted on INI-Signal.


Apun Ka Desh said...

WTF.... now the few cameras at the Rlwy Stn entrance were of such low quality (corruption?) that intelligence agencies - cant even make out whether ppl entering the stn or male or female - leave alone making out anything more.

Chandra said...

It could be corruption but even then it's classic babus just go through the motins of doing things rather than make sure they worked.