Jama Masjid firing: Police rule out terror attack

Last Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010 - 09:38

New Delhi: Apparently intended to cause terror ahead of Commonwealth Games, two unidentified motorcycle-borne attackers today shot and injured two Taiwanese nationals outside the Jama Masjid here which was followed by a crude pressure cooker bomb blast in a car in the same area.

Delhi Police appeared to be ruling out the role of any
organised terror group but intelligence experts said it could
be a handiwork of outlawed Indian Mujahideen, which was behind
a series of blasts in several cities, including Delhi and
Ahmedabad.

The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the
attack in an e-mail sent to PTI and some other news
organisations and threatened terror strikes during the Games.

A red alert was sounded across the capital after the
incident in which the two bikers, wearing raincoats and
helmets, fired 7-8 rounds on the stationary vehicle adjacent
to Gate No 3 of the mosque and 100 metres away from the house
of Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari at 11.10 am.
Police have detained one person for questioning in
connection with the case.

The two injured -- Cesewein (27) and Cinglo (28) --
were rushed to the nearby government Lok Nayak Jaiprakash
Narayan Hospital, a senior police official said.

Cesewein (27) had a miraculous escape as the bullet
grazed his head while Cinglo (28) was hit in right abdomen.

The injured were part of a five-member group of
tourists who work with a television channel in Taiwan and were
in the capital since yesterday. They were to leave for Jaipur
on Tuesday and then visit Agra and return to the capital on
September 27 to take a flight back to Taiwan.

Karnal Singh, Joint Commissioner (Northern Range),
told reporters that the four cartridges recovered from the
spot showed that the weapon used could be .38 calibre
revolver.

But the rounds of fire recovered were also of 9 mm,
which can be used in pistol or carbine, he said refusing to
hazard a guess on the motive of the attackers.

"We are looking into all angles and we cannot jump to
conclusions. It appears to be done to create panic," he said.
"A red alert has been sounded and we are conducting
checks at various points. We are confident of nabbing the
culprits soon," he said.

Nearly two hours after the firing incident, a car went
up in flames when a "crudely-circuited" pressure cooker bomb
exploded about 50 metres away from the spot where the firing
incident took place.

"The car went up in flames due to a crudely-circuited
pressure cooker bomb," a senior police official said.
Investigators suspect the involvement of a "group of
disgruntled youth or local criminals" who wanted to create a
scare in the area.

Constable Pramod, who was manning Gate No 3, tried to
give a chase to the attackers but they fled on their
motorcycle. A rickshaw-puller also tried to give a chase and
he even threw a brick at them in a bid to foil their escape.
The mini-bus also had one of its windows broken and a
bullet pierced into its body.

Asked whether it is a security scare ahead of the
October 3-14 Games, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said,
"an incident like this is something worrying but nothing to
panic about."

Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy said
the incident would not have an impact on the Games.

"Lots of security measures have already been taken.
But wherever there is an inadequacy about it, that hole has to
be plugged," the Chief Minister said.

Hours after the incident, Home Minister P Chidambaram
visited the LNJP Hospital, where the two injured Taiwanese are
admitted. He enquired about their health conditions and also
talked to senior official and medical professionals present
there.

The e-mail sent by the Indian Mujahideen said, "in the
name of Allah, the attack is a tribute to Atif Amin and
Mohammed Sajid". Amin and Sajid were IM operatives killed by
the police in the Batla House encounter soon after the Delhi
serial blasts of September 2008.

"We are warning you. If you have the guts, then
organise the Commonwealth Games...We know that preparations
are on full swing. Be prepared...We are also making
preparations...The participants in the Games will be
responsible for the outcome," the e-mail said.

The modus operandi in the firing carries the signature
of Indian Mujaheedin, Home Ministry sources said.

Sources in security agencies said the incident could
be an attempt to spread scare ahead of the Games. They said
terror angle cannot be ruled out.

The Union Home Ministry is also closely monitoring the
investigations into the shooting incident and has sought a
report from the Delhi Police.

Asked if the security agencies have been able to find
out the motive behind the incident, senior Home Ministry
officials said it was too early to make an assessment and that
the investigations were underway.

Police said phone calls in the area are being scanned
and armed personnel have been deployed in the locality.

However, Delhi Police does not suspect the role of any
organised terror group behind the incidents but suspect the
involvement of disgruntled youths or a gang of local
criminals.

The motive appears to be to scare people ahead of the
Commonwealth Games, they say, adding the attacks do not show
signs of the involvement of terrorist outfits like Indian
Mujahideen.

The city police is also not giving much credence to
the email sent to media houses purportedly by outlawed Indian
Mujahideen as "its content and timing were not matching" with
the incidents.

There were "no specific target or specific reasons"
for the attacks and they do not find any reason to believe
that an organised terror outfit was behind the incidents which
left two Taiwanese nationals injured, Delhi Police
spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.

"The signatures of the attacks do not show that an
organised terror organisation like Indian Mujahideen is
involved. If you see pressure cooker which was used to explode
the car, it was poorly circuited and crudely assembled," a
senior police official said.

He also said there was no reason to target Taiwanese
as they were not in news for any wrong reasons.

"If it was done by some terrorists, it would have
targeted the police station or the Masjid itself. We feel that
it is a handiwork of disgruntled youths of the area or local
criminal gang," the official said.

Investigators are also collecting details from Salim,
a rickshaw puller, who claimed to have witnessed the firing
and gave a chase to the attackers along with Constable Pramod
who is posted at Jama Masjid.

Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari called it
a "terrorist" incident aimed at creating panic, preventing
foreign visitors from coming to the city and making the Games
a "failure".

"This has been done to spread panic in India so that
people from outside do not come to Delhi...a conspiracy to
make the Commonwealth Games a failure," he told reporters.

Asked if he feels terrorists were behind this, he
said, "killing innocent people, firing several rounds...doing
all these things...this is terrorism and the authorities will
have to find out who is responsible."

Taiwan representative to India Philip Wen-Chyi Ong and
Minister of Health and Family Welfare Kiran Walia also visited
the LNJP hospital where the injured were admitted.

Walia said the condition of one of the two Taiwanese
nationals was serious as the bullet hit his stomach.

According to her, the doctors were of the opinion that
both the patients were not in a position to speak to media or
others.

"The hospital is doing its best to take care of the
patients. It is matter of concern as it (incident) involved
foreigners," she said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, September 20, 2010 - 09:38

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