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An attack waiting to happen

By Salil Kumar in Srinagar
April 06, 2005 18:41 IST
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As the fires engulfing the Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar die down a couple of question will remain.

Was it an attack waiting to happen? Did security agencies walk into a trap?

When the terrorist outfits warned the passengers not to enter the 'coffin' they wanted the security agencies to panic, and that is what they did.

On April 4, had questioned the wisdom of housing all the passengers at the TRC, 48 hours before the departure of the inaugural bus to Muzaffarabad.

'What if there is a militant attack on the building one of these nights? Where will they be taken then?' This was the exact question asked. [Read: They are pawns in the great game]

The attack has taken place.

The militants most likely wanted to create a big bang before the bus service began; the decision to bring all of them to one place ensured that the suicide bombers would not have to work too hard.

Security was exceptionally tight outside the building; the only pieces of military hardware missing from the scene were battle tanks and jets.

But as everyone knows only too well, there is nothing that can prevent those with a death wish from carrying out an attack.

More importantly, questions will now be raised about the government's decision to reopen the route in the first place.

People's Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti told in an interview on Tuesday that though there is a threat, the process must go on.

But at what peril? How long are the security agencies going to provide cover to those travelling in the bus. What if there is an attack on the bus a month from now and there are many passengers among the dead?

Will the Indian leaders be able to shrug their shoulders and say, 'Well, the peace process should go on.'?

What is the Indian government's threshhold of tolerance? And that of those who want to meet their loved once across the border?

Also, what effect would such an attack have on the Indo-Pak peace process?

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Salil Kumar in Srinagar