First arrest in Ahmedabad blasts case

July 28, 2008

An activist of the banned militant outfit — Ahle Hadeez — was today (July 27) arrested in connection with the serial blasts in Ahmedabad, which was on the edge with a live bomb in the city being defused and another three found in Surat city as the death toll rose to 49. The arrested activist, identified as Abdul Halim and wanted in connection with 2002 post-Godhra riots, was picked up by the police from the communally sensitive Dani Limda area in the walled city. Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil chaired a high-level meeting to review the situation in the country and assured all possible help to the Gujarat government.

Ahmedabad after Bangalore: Glaring lapses

July 28, 2008
An audacious attack in Ahmedabad, barely a day after serial blasts in India’s IT capital Bangalore, leads us to several obvious questions.

Is India now a sitting duck for terrorists? What is causing these men to attack India at will and get away with it?

Also, what about the role of intelligence agencies and the network formed to be in the know of any such attacks?

How could Ahmedabad be targeted hours after Bangalore?

What lessons have we learnt from similar attacks in the past and why have there been no conclusive breakthroughs?

There are more questions than answers.

Let us take a look at the first intelligence lapse that occurred. The Gujarat blasts took place within hours of nationwide alert after Bangalore blasts.

How could 16 bomb blasts take place in Ahmedabad when the entire country was on high alert?

In Ahmedabad, most bombs were placed on cycles and went off within a short time span like in Bangalore, Jaipur, Uttar Pradesh and Malegaon.

The second lapse was that the groups of serial bombers could not be traced.

It takes several people to carry out a serial blast, so how come they can’t be traced? And even those who provide them logistical support like houses, phones and transport could not be traced.

Modi and Gujarat are prime targets of the terror since the 2002 riots. How could intelligence agencies not even get a whiff of such an elaborate network? This was the third lapse on the part of the intelligence.

For the last three years, terrorists have been making minimal use of telecommunication devices before and after each strike, making it difficult for security agencies to track them.

Had there been a strong human intelligence network or local policing, things would have been easier. And this constitutes the fourth lapse.

And People like A S Dullat, former secretary of RAW and director of Intelligence Bureau, who have spent their entire life tracking terror, feel something is definitely wrong.

“It is very evident that there is an intelligence failure. I think there is a need to do a threat assessment of metros. For instance, leaders and state governments should take terror more seriously and not just depend on what is given to them,” said Dullat.

Under pressure, this is exactly what the Centre intends to do. Home Minister Shivraj Patil will meet chief ministers of all states, hoping to push through police modernisation and reforms. The Intelligence Bureau too will be upgraded.

Police reforms would in no doubt help but the big question is whether states would agree and more importantly how long will it take?