New Delhi: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who flew into Varanasi Wednesday, a day after the terror struck in the temple town, while admitting that there have been lapses, pointed out that the Centre had provided specific intelligence inputs about the vulnerability of the ghats to the state government.
Speaking to reporters after he visited the blast site -- Sheetla Ghat -- and the injured in the hospitals, Chidambaram said, “It is a low to medium intensity blast. Forensic experts have already collected samples from the site, another forensics team is coming to Varanasi, we will await their reports.”
Giving further details, the Union Home Minister said that the blast was strong enough to make some boulders travel to a distance of 20-30 feet; they hit some people, while others suffered from fractures due to the ensuing melee.
Pointing out the lapses by the state police, he said, “We had cautioned all state governments that in the run up to 26/11 and 6/12, we can expect terror attacks.” Chidambaram mentioned that advisories were sent by the Centre to all the states on the eve of the sensitive dates.
“As far as UP is concerned, a specific advice was given on February 26, 2010 that Dashashwamedh Ghat was one of the targets for terorists,” he added.
“The ghats are especially vulnerable. Some arrangements were made but I think that they may have been some lapses. One would have to maintain vigil at all times, there is no scope for relaxing the vigil,” he said.
“Unfortunately despite the presence of a platoon somebody was able to plant an IED on the Sheetla Ghat”, he pointed out.
“Everyday is a new day and everyday one must be vigilant,” he opined.
On being asked by reporters whether there was a possibility of the National Investigating Agency taking over the probe, Chidambaram said that it will depend on the progress of the investigations that are being carried out by the state police. The Home Minister also expressed that the UP police would be able to break the case.
With regards to the complaints by the UP Chief Minister that the state was not provided with credible intelligence input, Chidamabarm retorted, “I am not here do a jugalbandi. I am not here to blame anyone. Obviously no one can give more specific info than that (input about threat to the ghats). It is the duty of every state government to provide safety to the people.”
On her another demand for a sophisticated anti-terror force for Varanasi, he said that the security is a state subject and the Centre can only supplement the security. “There is already one battalion of CRPF in Varansai and another in the district,” he pointed out.
One dead, 31 injured
Giving details about the human causality, Chidambaram said that one 11-month-old baby girl Swastika, daughter of Santosh Kumar Sharma, had died in the blast while one lady by the name Phoolmani is battling for her life in the hospital.
He said that a total of 31 patients were admitted in the hospitals and nine have been already discharged.
Of the 31 four are foreigners, while two more were part of the nine persons who have been discharged.
This was the fourth terror incident in Varanasi -- the other three were in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
“After 26/11, 2009 was completely free of terror attacks but in 2010 we had one terror incident Pune in February…I was hoping and praying that the ear will end without another terror incident,” the Home Minister said.
He also congratulated the people of Varansai for maintaining calm and going about with their day-to-day lives with resilience.