Raman’s take on the bus

Remain on guard

B Raman cautions against getting carried away by the peace-process euphoria and letting down the guard.

Before April 6, 2005, the terrorists of the LET themselves, sporting different names such as Al Nasireen, Al Arifeen, the Save Kashmir Movement and the Farzandan-e-Millat, have been reiterating repeatedly for the last seven days their intention to turn the bus into a coffin for the passengers.

The terrorists had managed to get hold of the names and addresses of the drivers of the bus as well as of the passengers permitted by the Pakistani authorities to travel by the bus. It is said that whereas the lists sent by the Indian authorities to their Pakistani counterparts were in English, the lists at the disposal of the terrorists were in Urdu. This gave rise to a suspicion that the leakage had taken place from the government offices in Muzzafarrabad.

The terrorists did not address similar warnings to the passengers planning to travel from Muzzafarrabad to Srinagar. While all the passengers, who had booked to travel by the Indian bus starting from Srinagar, were genuine civilians, according to the News, the Pakistani daily of April 6,2005, the passengers who were to travel from Muzzafarrabad had been hand-picked by the Pakistani agencies, which disregarded all the applications from the residents of the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) to travel by the inaugural bus. This gave rise to a strong and reasonable suspicion that Pakistan was confining its list to officers of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) travelling under the garb of Kashmiri civilians and some journalists enjoying the confidence of the ISI. Thus, the terrorists would not have dared to attack their own handling officers from the ISI travelling by the bus.[Outlook]

Further, he takes the government to task for its faulty strategy that resulted in terrorists being able to attack the very place where passengers were sequestered.

After letting itself be caught napping, the government is now indulging in the usual spin to mitigate its sins of commission and omission:

Spin No.1: The attack is actually an act of desperation by the terrorists, who are losing their battle against the government. In my view, this does not speak of desperation, but continuing motivation and their determination to keep their movement alive and active.

Spin No.2: The public, which was looking forward to the bus service, would get further fed up with the jihadi terrorists and public opinion would decisively turn against terrorism. This spin misses the point that the pro-Al Qaeda jihadi terrorists, who indulge in punishment terrorism, are not bothered about the impact of their acts of terrorism on public opinion. [Outlook]