Several days prior to the Thursday's twin bomb blast that
ripped the Indian city of Hyderabad, the Indian government
allegedly possessed prior information of impending terror attacks
in the country. This raises fresh questions on the ability of the
nation to thwart such attacks.
Surveying the blast site, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde
explained the government had passed the information about the
possible security threat to the law enforcing agencies in the
state of Andhra Pradesh. According to the reports, although the
information was not specific, it did give a warning of a possible
strike in a list of cities including Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh
and Bangalore in Karnataka, just three days ago.
"No intelligence was given that a particular area it will
happen. A general alert was given in the past two to three days
to the whole country. And that's all," Shinde told reporters.
Following the execution of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks convict
Ajmal Kasab and 20o1 Delhi parliament attack accused Mohammed
Afzal Guru in last 30 days, India was put on high alert.
Pakistan-based Islamic militants, Taliban, had vowed to avenge
the executions targeting India.
However, the Andhra Pradesh state law enforcement agencies
appear to have passed off the information alert as "routine."
No terror groups have claimed responsibility for the
Thursday's attacks yet, but the Indian police are investigating
the possible involvement of Indian Mujahideen (
), a shadowy Islamic militant group, with reported ties to
Pakistani terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the Thursday's twin blasts that
occurred in a crowded area of Dilsukh Nagar, Hyderabad, has risen
to 16 as two more people succumbed to injuries. According to the
preliminary information, the bombs were powerful and attached to
two bicycles about 150 meters (500 feet) apart in the area.
The bombs were made of pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) and
ammonium nitrate. And, they also carried other signature elements
used by the terror outfits - shrapnel, nuts, bolts and pieces of
steel - to cause maximum damage, leading Indian daily The New
Indian Express reported.
The pattern of the bombing and the place chosen points towards
the involvement of IM, which allegedly has carried out similar
blasts in other parts of the country including Delhi (2011), Pune
(2010) and Jaipur (2008), security experts pointed out.
"This kind of communally sensitive place, the use of
detonators and timers, the pattern of the bombings and the fact
that bombs were placed on cycles point the finger toward Indian
Mujahideen," N. Manoharan, an analyst at the Vivekananda
International Foundation, a New Delhi-based policy research group
Media reports quoting the authorities said that the
intelligence had stumbled on a possible security threat on
Dilsukh Nagar, when an IM operative was arrested last October.
According to a police release, two alleged IM operatives Syed
Maqbool and Imran Khan reportedly had conducted surveys of
Dilkhush (Dillsukh) Nagar, Begum Bazar and Abids in Hyderabad on
a motorcycle at the behest of IM leader Riyaz Bhatkal.
Although there was no specific alert prior to Thursday's
attacks, intelligence and the law enforcement authorities had
several factors that seemed to hold clear pointers to the south
Indian city of Hyderabad as a soft target.
Hyderabad, the capital city of the state of Andhra Pradesh,
with a population of nearly 7 million people, has a clear history
of communal violence between the Hindus and Muslims. Media
reports quoting intelligence sources suggested the existence of
several IM sleeper cells in the state. Previously, even the 2002
and 2007 blasts in Hyderabad were linked to this group.
IM is believed to be born out of the banned Students Islamic
Movement of India (SIMI) and has been active in India since 2007.
A block of hardline Islamic militants reportedly broke off with
moderates in SIMI and formed the IM, after the 2002 Godhra
communal riots. Although the group has been striking targets
prior to 2008, they formally announced their existence in emails
sent to the media houses ahead of the 2008 Jaipur blasts.
The organization was banned in India in June 2010 and was also
declared as a terrorist group by the U.S. and the U.K. in 2011.
The group operates through sleeper cells that remain silent or
subdued in the background. These sleeper cells are activated at
the time of attack or other militant operations.
"Many of the sleeper cells of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and IM are
still active in Hyderabad and we are regularly monitoring them,"
a police officer told leading South Indian daily Deccan
Security experts believe the failure of the government to
prevent such attacks despite repeated warnings indicates inherent
flaws in India's infrastructure to fight such terror networks and
their ghastly attacks. Any general information on security
threats also cease to hold impact given the size of the country
and the federal law enforcement system.
"In the absence of specific intelligence inputs, India
remains unable to check militant groups. Local police are not
trained or equipped well enough to meet this kind of threat,"
India has multiple agencies to address terrorist activities
and lack of coordination among the different agencies pose a huge
obstacle to combat terrorism.
"Having multiple agencies that claim to tackle terrorism isn't
enough if the police forces on the ground aren't strong enough,"
Bharat Verma, an expert on defense matters, told CNN-IBN
Further, the local police force appears handicapped owing to
staff crunch and lack of training in terror combat. A Human
Rights Watch report explains how India has an officer deployed
for every 1,037 residents, while global average is one officer
per 333 citizens.
A preliminary investigation report on the Hyderabad bomb
blasts also point to the lapses in police coordination and the
local police's ability to correlate and collaborate the warnings
with the pointers.
Apparently, wires of the security camera in the site of the
bomb blast were cut off four days prior to the attack. Although
the traffic police was aware of incident, they made no attempt to
repair the instrument or investigate.