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February 20, 1998


T V R Shenoy

The DMK, far from being abashed, is taking credit for keeping L K Advani safe!

This week, I propose to tell the untold story of the Coimbatore blasts. Let me start with the fact that everyone is desperately trying to hide: Chief Minister Karunanidhi knew what might happen, almost down to the most minute detail, but he didn't act!

How did Karunanidhi know? Simple, Indian intelligence has been keeping an eye on both Al-Umma and the Jihad Committee (now banned) for a very long time. The inflammatory speeches made by the leaders of these fundamentalist organisations has been cause for concern for a very long time.

Delhi provided Madras with extremely detailed warnings of what might happen. This report was so prophetic that one officer in Delhi exclaimed after the blasts, "It look like an intelligence job!"

But the central intelligence agencies have a limited role -- they can provide advice and warnings, but they aren't equipped to conduct raids. That was the role of the Karunanidhi government, and unfortunately Tamil Nadu's political bosses took no action until it was too late.

But the DMK boss didn't need Delhi to inform him about what was going on in his own backyard. On January 10, 1998, his own police told him that Islamic fundamentalists were running a bomb-making cottage industry. The units in Madras and Thanjavur had already been raided.

In Madras, the police took the bombs they found and showed them to the chief minister in person. That is contrary to regulations -- they should have sealed the evidence -- but the police desperately wanted permission to shut down the terrorists.

Yet both Al-Umma and the Jihad Committee were allowed to continue their activities unimpeded. With a general election around the corner, perhaps Karunanidhi's concern for his 'secular' image was greater than his concern for law and order!

(Three months ago the Coimbatore riots had their roots in this pseudo-secularism. The local police were prevented from arresting two Islamic fundamentalists who had stabbed one of their colleagues.)

For the record, officers in both Madras and Delhi believe making bombs wasn't the only point on the fundamentalists's agenda. Training warriors for the future was another activity. Coimbatore, so close to the border with Kerela, is an ideal place for this.

It is said that young recruits -- anywhere from 12 years to 20 years old -- were taken under the aegis of Al-Umma and the Jihad Committee. And senior officers insist that Pakistan's notorious ISI had a large role to play in all this.

All this -- the warning from Delhi and the raids conducted by the local police -- are matters of record. But with Delhi and Madras under the United Front's 'secular' rule, these records won't be openly available for some time. But there are some facts that give the game away.

On Saturday, February 14, the police raided the headquarters of Al-Umma and the Fateh Committee. The interesting point is that the raids were conducted within minutes of the first blast in Coimbatore.

When the Special Investigation Team started the inquiry into Rajiv Gandhi's murder, it took some days to get on the trail of the assassins. (Sivarasan, the 'one-eyed Jack' was hunted own almost three months after the assassination.) But on February 14, the police took less than an hour to get on the job!

Ignoring these facts, Karunanidhi is trying to play down the attempt on the BJP president's life. The DMK now claims the bombs weren't on Advani's route anyway. Well, who said they were?

The bombs were placed at the venue of the BJP meeting, on the road from the venue to the hospital, and at the hospital itself. The idea, it seems, was to create as much confusion as possible and then take advantage of the melee. This brings up one last fact.

Some time ago, two foreigners caught in Punjab confessed they were part of a team of four human bombs -- and their targets were the top BJP leaders. And two assassins are still at large.

But, as noted above, the central intelligence agencies can only offer warnings. Paying heed to those alerts and taking action is the duty of the Union and state governments. Given our current crop of leaders, do you think serious action is on the cards -- especially if it means wounding 'secular' feelings?

You know, by comparison Sonia Gandhi comes off rather well. At least, she is apologising for her party's mistakes. The DMK, far from being abashed, is taking credit for keeping L K Advani safe!

T V R Shenoy

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