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'There was no intelligence failure'
Amberish K Diwanji in Mumbai |
August 28, 2003 22:35 IST
A senior officer in the Mumbai Police insists the twin blasts in Mumbai were not due to intelligence failure.
"There are regular explosions and killings in Jammu and Kashmir, in the northeast, and even in Delhi. Do we call these intelligence failure?" he asked.
The officer from the Mumbai Police Special Branch, who asked rediff.com that he not be identified, expressed his anger at various newspaper reports claiming that there had been a massive intelligence failure.
Complete coverage of the blasts in Mumbai
The officer pointed out that blasts are a regular feature in J&K, happen more often in Delhi and the northeast than Mumbai despite the number of security and intelligence personnel far exceeding the number in the metropolis. "But yet, blasts and killings continue in these regions. So why is Mumbai being singled out as though there is something dramatically wrong here?" he asked.
The officer also rejected claims that the Mumbai Police lacked informers from among the Muslim community, which in turn hampered their intelligence gathering.
He said the blasts were carried out by terrorists who reside outside Mumbai, probably outside Maharashtra. The terrorists come into the city and mingle with some local sympathizers, who while giving logistical support, simply have no clue what the terrorists are actually planning or what the gravity of the crime is likely to be, he said.
The best proof, he said, that the Mumbai Police intelligence was good comes from the fact that it is the same intelligence that helped the Mumbai Police wipe out the underworld. "We could do that because the underworld used to operate from Mumbai, so we could build up our contacts and information. But we cannot do the same with the terrorists since they are beyond our turf," he added.
How can the Mumbai police intelligence build up a network of informers when they don't live here? he asked. "The need of the hour is that the fight against terrorist activities, which are a global phenomenon, needs a holistic approach rather than a city-specific or a region-specific approach, as is the case in present," he said.
He also said that the terrorists are known to seek out alienated persons to be their local support. "We have seen the pattern over the last few explosions," he said, "These supporters are invariably people who have suffered and therefore nurse a grudge either against the police or another community."
Thus those who might have been, in some way or the others, victims of the 1992-1993 communal riots, or of the recent Gujarat riots in 2002, or even of police firing, are considered most likely to lend support to the terrorists.
"These terrorists are on the look out, like a 'talent' hunt. They find such people, play on their grievances, and get them to provide logistical support. But such people themselves don't play any major role. So now we in the police have also begun to look for such people and woo them over, and keep them away from the terrorists," he said.
But it is a long and arduous task. The police believe that the recent Gujarat riots alienated large sections of the Muslim youth, some of who are then easily lured by the terrorists.
The officer said that while the various mohalla (locality) peace committees by themselves cannot prevent terrorism, they can play a role in keeping the disgruntled youth out of the terrorists' clutches.
As is all these problems are not hurdles enough in the Special Branch's battle against terrorists. It is reported that police officers, especially at the key operational level of inspectors and constables, dislike being posted to the Special Branch since it does not allow them to make money on the side. A posting at a police station, where the local inspector wields much clout, is seen as lucrative and officers are believed to offer bribes to get such postings.
When asked whether junior police officers dislike being posted at Special Branch, the officer merely shrugged. But at the Special Branch head office, just behind the Police Commisionerate, one junior officer was overheard narrating to another how he had approached some politicians to get out of the Special Branch and get a posting in the western suburbs of Mumbai.
At a local police station, the local police in-charge is all-powerful; at the special branch, he is merely an information gatherer, unable to earn anything on the side. That this lacuna exists is well known, how it will be resolved remains to be seen.
Finally, the officer flatly pointed out that no one could rule out further explosions or terrorist activities. "Can we ever say robberies will stop? Similarly, in today's world, we cannot say that terrorist activities won't occur. And just as the public is alert against thefts and robberies, the public must be alert against terrorist activities," he concluded.