Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Led by the President and the Prime Minister, the nation condemned the blasts on the Samjhauta Express. The leaders hoped the perpetrators would be quickly caught. All political parties expressed grief over the death of innocent passengers and police personnel, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also urging the Government to enact a stringent anti-terrorist law.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam expressed concern and grief over the loss of lives and conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the next of kin of the victims. Mr. Kalam said he would pray for the early recovery of those injured in the tragedy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a message, said the "culprits will be caught" and conveyed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims while wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi condemned the "barbaric act of violence" and appealed to the people of India and Pakistan to stand up firmly against such attacks by the "enemies of humanity." Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chaterjee said he hoped such acts did not derail the peace process, which was in the interest of the people and the subcontinent as a whole. Union Minister of Water Resources Saifuddin Soz called for "deterrent punishment" to those behind the ghastly incident.

`Uncover conspiracy'

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) wanted the Government to leave no stone unturned to uncover the conspiracy which led to the tragedy. The CPI (M) urged the Government to bear the treatment cost of those injured, most of whom are said to be Pakistani citizens. Noting that the blasts took place a day before the visit of Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, the CPI (M) Polit Bureau urged the people to remain united and protest against this action. The All-India Forward Bloc said the intention was to derail the peace process and felt the railways should have intensified security measures on this train in view of Mr. Kasuri's visit.

The BJP condoled the deaths and expressed sympathy to the kin of the victims. Party president Rajnath Singh alleged that the terrorists of having a free run in the past two years. With non-sensitive targets also being targeted, Mr. Singh said each time an attack of this nature took place, "we hear from the Prime Minster, as even today, that the culprits would be punished, but nothing happens."

In the Parliament attack case, the conspirators were identified but the Government was not implementing the punishment. The BJP chief drew attention to the lack of a law to deal with funding for terrorism and wanted the Government to introduce a stringent law by any name in the coming Budget session.

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