A re-run of the Samjhauta Express firebombing was averted on the first day of Navratra last month when a powerful incendiary improvised explosive device (IED) was detected and disposed of from a passenger train in Rewari, Haryana, counter-terror sources told HT.
The bomb — with a timer and detonator connected to a container of liquid insect killer with firecrackers tied to it — was found in an abandoned bag on the Rewari-Meerut train on September 25, they said. The train was on its way to Delhi.
A passenger, suspicious that the bag’s owner hadn’t come back in a while, informed the railway police, who found protruding wires in the bag. “A bomb squad was called in from Gurgaon and defused the IED three hours after it was found,” one counter-terror official said on condition of anonymity.
“It is suspected that the IED was planted by alleged Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operatives who are on the run after their hideout in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor town was busted last month after an accidental blast,” the official said.
A witness who was shown photographs of these men said one of them resembled the bag’s owner, the official said, adding, “These SIMI operatives had escaped from Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa jail in October last year.”
“Had the IED exploded, it would have sent flames flying around the inflammable train coach, possibly resulting in a repeat of the Samjhauta Express firebombing,” the official added.
In 2007, incendiary IEDs planted by alleged Hindu extremists on the India-Pakistan train had killed more than 60 people, mostly Pakistanis.
A day after the bomb find, a senior Haryana Police officer called in counter-terror officials from the central agencies to inspect the scene.
There were also reports that some policemen had tried to break the IED with lathis but these could not be confirmed.