Karachi, Feb 20 (IANS) For the survivors of the Samjhauta Attari special train – bombed Sunday while ferrying passengers from India to Pakistan – the traumatic sight of people burning, the sound of their trapped cries and the growing pile of charred bodies make up an endless nightmare.
'I saw people burning in front of my eyes. I saw charred bodies,' said Babulal Shivjee Chauhan, a Pakistani Hindu, about his first-ever journey back from India with a family of seven.
'This was my first visit to India. I heard cries of help. I was so scared that I jumped off the running train thinking that our bogey was also on fire,' said his wife Champa, who sustained burn injuries all over her body following the blasts that killed 68 people.
If the family is alive to tell the harrowing tale, it is only because it was travelling in the eighth bogey of the Samjhauta Express, just ahead of bogies nine and 10 that caught fire, killing at least 68 passengers.
'We felt something burning because of the extreme heat. When we opened the windows, we saw flames from the bogey behind ours,' Chauhan, of the Soldier Bazaar area here, told the Daily Times on phone.
Running between New Delhi in India and Lahore in Pakistan, the Samjhauta Express – named to promote India-Pakistan mutual understanding – is heavily guarded.
But some the Indian policemen providing security had themselves become victims. Chauhan's sister Tulsi Bai said that when the train was leaving the Old Delhi railway station, Sikh policemen told them to close the doors and windows of the bogey, a normal security measure.
Tulsi Bai said that she later saw their charred bodies.
The train stopped in the middle of wilderness where they had to wait for several hours. 'We collected our young and spent the next few hours under the open sky,' said Chauhan.
Bhori, a woman from Jaipur in India, said: 'All I know is that there was commotion everywhere, but I survived. I have a lot of burns all over my body,' she said.
Since the explosives that ripped through the two coaches exploded with a low volume, many passengers were in the dark about the cause of the fire. Some said that for several minutes they had no idea what had happened.
On the train was also Tasneem Jauhar, a poetess from Hyderabad in India. Jauhar said: 'This was a terrorist activity because the general public supports love and peace.'
'The people of Hyderabad (India) are with the Pakistanis in their pain and the Indian government should immediately improve and strengthen their security arrangements,' she added.
The train was carrying 757 passengers, of which 553 were Pakistanis.