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B Raman: Message from the Bengaluru blasts
July 25, 2008
The eight blasts that rocked Bengaluru on July 25 points to high orchestration, but low intensity. The blasts reportedly took place within about 12 minutes at around 1-30 pm, that is after the Friday's mid-day namaz in the local mosques.
The high orchestration used in timing five to six blasts, with some precision, resembled the serial blasts in Jaipur in May last year and in three towns of Uttar Pradesh in November.
While timers were used to activate the improvised explosive devices, the explosive material used does not appear to have been of a sophisticated kind. Ammonium nitrate, mixed with a booster, was the preferred explosive in previous terrorist incidents, but one does not know whether ammonium nitrate was used in the Bengaluru blasts too.
Some TV reports speak of the possible use of gelatin sticks. If so, these blasts would resemble, from the point of view of the composition of the IEDs, the serial blasts in Coimbatore carried out by Al Ummah, a Muslim extremist organisation of South India, in February 1998 to protest against the alleged police excesses against Muslim youth after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Investigation into the Coimbatore blasts showed that Muslim youth had fabricated the IEDs with the help of explosive material stolen from the quarries of south India.
From preliminary reports, one could make the following surmise: firstly, the terrorists did not want to cause mass casualties; secondly, Bengaluru has the largest concentration of foreign businessmen and experts, but they did not want to target them; thirdly, they did not want to target the foreign tourists either.
The blasts would definitely create nervousness amongst the foreigners living in Bengaluru and get additional publicity for the perpetrators, but this was only their secondary objective. Their primary objective was to convey a message that they have the capability to hit when and where they want.
After 9/11, the Americans got into the habit of blaming Al Qaeda [Images] for every act of terrorism happening anywhere in the world and then collecting evidence. As pointed out by me in my previous articles, we seem to have got into the habit of blaming the Lashkar-e-Tayiba or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami every time an act of terrorism takes place even before we have sufficient evidence.
We should get rid of this habit and keep an open mind regarding the perpetrators. It is important to probe thoroughly into the activities of Al Ummah, which used to have cells in Bengaluru, the Students Islamic Movement of India and other angry elements.
We have had three waves of anger among the Indian Muslim youth -- the first was after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 and the second after the Gujarat riots of 2002. These waves have since dissipated. Since last year, one has been noticing a fresh wave of anger after the convictions of a number of Muslims by a Mumbai court in the Mumbai blasts of March, 1993. A common theme in all their Internet chatter is what they see as the inherent unfairness of the Indian criminal justice system towards Muslims.
While taking strong action against the terrorists, whoever they are, it is important to address this perception that our criminal justice system is unfair to Muslims.
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