There was a couple of blasts aboard the Samjhauta Express that left nearly 70 people dead, the day before. The train had left the Old Delhi railway station, for Lahore in Pakistan. Most of the dead were Pakistanis, who belonged to families separated during the partition of India in 1947, returning home after visiting their relatives in present-day India.
As the great Sufi poet, Waris Shah, once said:
ChhaaN badlaaN di, umar bandyaaN di
(The lives of human beings are as transitory as the shadows that clouds cast upon land.)
Philosophy apart, the death and destruction that has been caused by the act of terrorism appears to have been highly avoidable. The television news channels have been presenting details of all the security lapses that made it easier for the terrorists to succeed in their nefarious designs. Apparently, there were only about half a dozen policemen guarding the 14 bogies and the luggage of the passengers was not checked before they boarded the train.
I can not help comparing this against the kind of security that was provided by the government of the Pakistani province of Punjab to the 'Sikh Pilgrim Special' train, aboard which I travelled across the border in April 2006. Each bogie had at least two policemen armed with automatic weapons, guarding the train night and day. Armed policemen had also been posted along the tracks, at various places where the train was likely to slow down. Additionally, there were several security men in plain clothes, on the train.
The passports of all passengers had been checked and their luggage passed through an X-Ray machine, before being allowed on the train, by Pakistani authorities.
I sincerely hope that the government of India will tighten the security for the Samjhauta Express, along with all other buses and trains plying between India and Pakistan, and that such a tragic incident shall not recur.
Meanwhile, if the extremists are going to such lengths to disrupt the peace-process, I am sure that it must be on the right track!