Hyderabad blasts: Has India lost the war against terror?

By Sushmita Dutta | Updated: Mar 05, 2013, 23:09 PM IST

Sushmita Dutta

The national capital witnessed panic and drama on 25 February 2013 with five incidents of bomb hoaxes in a single day. The drama started near the Army Base Hospital in Delhi Cantt Area where a suspicious bag was found and reported to the Police Control Room.

Shortly after that another bomb scare was reported from South Delhi. Soon a third one followed from the posh M-block market in Greater Kailash. And then came the fourth and fifth one. Later the police breathed a sigh of relief as nothing averse happened. But imagine if these were not hoaxes but were real bombs ripping the city apart.

The Delhi incident sent a chill down our spines because it followed closely the recent twin blasts at Hyderabad. Four days earlier, on 21 February, Hyderabad was torn apart with two blasts in Dilsukhnagar within 100 metres of each other. The bombs exploded in a crowded place killing 16 people and injuring more than 100.

As many as 1300 people have lost their lives in a series of terror strikes in India since the Mumbai serial blasts of 1993. Over 200 people died as 13 blasts ripped apart the economic hub of the country on a black Friday on 12 March 1993. But even after 20 years the main accused, Dawood Ibrahim is still absconding.

Local trains and diamond jewellery trading districts of Mumbai, crowded market places like Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini market of Delhi, the popular German Bakery eatery at Pune or cities like Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Jaipur – you name it – there is hardly any part of the country which has not been targeted by the terrorists. The financial capital of India was held hostage by a group of terrorists for three days playing out the most deadly game of death ever on 26/11. Not only the big cities but the smaller cities like Guwahati have also been targeted with dozens of blasts unleashed there leaving a death toll of almost 70 people.

In contrast to this, in the USA there have been no terror strikes since September 11, 2001 attacks when two planes crashed into the twin towers of World Trade Centre. However, it remains the worst single attack ever by terror groups, in this case al Qaeda in which 2823 people were killed.

A new index called Global Terrorism Index (GTI) prepared by Australian think tank revealed on 4 December 2012 that India, Afghanistan and Pakistan witnessed maximum terror attacks in 2011.

As far as the Hyderabad blasts are concerned the investigators are hunting for leads to unravel the terror conspiracy, in which the CCTV footage from the blast site may give some clues. However, the footage has not yielded any definitive results as yet on the appearance or identity of the likely suspects. Nonetheless, the NIA has arrested a suspect called Manzar Imam from Ranchi, who is also said to be involved in Ahmedabad blast case.

According to details shared by the Andhra Pradesh police with central security agencies, the footage captured by the CCTV cameras installed at Dilsukhnagar is grainy, with faces of those seen lurking around the site where bombs were planted not clearly visible.

Intelligence sources have told the media that the forensic laboratories in India are not equipped with the technology to make the footage sharper. This leaves India again at the behest of foreign counterparts like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to provide a solution. The US agency had earlier helped in harvesting images of the suspected bomber in the German Bakery blast of February 2010. One can’t help wondering as to how long will it take for India to upgrade its technology so that our fight against terror can proceed uninterrupted.

Suspects arrested in connection with the August 01, 2012 serial blasts in Pune have disclosed to probe agencies that Dilsukhnagar was recced in June 2012. The team is hopeful of getting some leads regarding the blasts from those arrested in terror cases in the past. The probe team, which has spilled over to states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar, is focusing on questioning jailed cadres of the Indian Mujahideen.

Needle of suspicion points towards IM due to the modus operandi used in Hyderabad blasts in which Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) was tied to two bicycles. The suspected involvement of five sleeper cells of the city may also provide vital clues to the probe officials.

The alleged founder brothers of the banned terrorist organisation IM, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal escaped to Karachi after the Intelligence Bureau and the police launched a crackdown on IM`s Delhi module after 2008.

So, if IM is behind the Hyderabad blasts then it becomes obvious that IM`s Pakistani masters are involved in the Dilsukhnagar incident. It has been proved time and again that Indian Mujahideen is just a camouflage to hide the Pakistani connection. Nonetheless, Pakistan has been in a constant state of denial. Given the above scenario, India needs to send a tough message to its neighbour and stop the act of soft diplomacy until Pakistan stops cross border terrorism.

Another area of concern is the fact that despite repeated assurances by the security agencies and government to revamp our internal security mechanism, India’s fight against terror continues to be marred by structural problems.

No doubt certain amount of fund has been spent in buying state-of-the-art gadgets, ultramodern weaponry, training and recruiting police personnel after the Mumbai terror attacks. Also agencies like the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Intelligence Grid were set up to strength our fight against terror. However, proposal to set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is still in troubled waters.

The ongoing tug-of-war between the Centre and the states, the want of a single point nodal command centre for fighting terror and repeated miscommunication between different security agencies can be said to be one of the prime reasons for India’s failure to take steps to avoid terror attacks and bring the suspects to book.

In the Hyderabad blasts case the CCTV cameras at the site were reported to be not working, though the police later denied this. It is thanks to one camera which was fitted at the traffic signal, due to which at least the probe team has some clue. Why can’t our CCTV cameras be kept in proper working condition? Questions like these bog the mind.

What is more shocking is that an advisory was issued two days before the blasts by the intelligence agencies to Andhra Pradesh police and couple of other states about possible terror strikes. However, the terrorists went ahead and unleashed mindless terror while our security agencies were unable to do anything about it. It is also high time that the government thinks about the number of police force which is deployed for VIP security. What about the security of ordinary citizens?

It is time to wake up and take corrective action. Politicians need to realize that the people have voted for them so that they can give the common man a sense of security. So for the sake of the people and the nation as a whole, one hopes that the ruling class and the security agencies get their act together so that India does not bleed anymore.