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Rediff.com  » News » The Centre has learnt no lessons after 26/11

The Centre has learnt no lessons after 26/11

February 21, 2013 23:44 IST

In just first three hours of the twin bomb blasts in Hyderabad on Thursday evening, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

People were crowding the area in Dilsukh Nagar where the two blasts took place only 150 metres apart. The police were complaining that they were unable to cordon-off the area.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is talking neither in Hindi nor in English.

He first informed the nation that the government, meaning the Centre, had information about the possible attacks and it was passed on to the intelligence agencies of the states.

The politician in the home minister tried, given the first chance, to shift the blame. He forgot that in Andhra Pradesh, his own party is in power.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy visited the blast site in no time, and gave a press conference in Telugu. “The state had no specific information.” He was more convincing, at least on television, than Shinde.

It is sad that, already, Andhra-based television channels are showing mutilated bodies and injured people in and around the hospitals. Many channels are showing three people without legs and one body badly mutilaled.

Where is the standard operating procedure? Where is Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the former home minister, who set guidelines to deal with this kind of situation?

In a sad time like this, Shinde has insensitively talked about the availability of a chartered plane for the ministry of home affairs in his televised address.

In this kind of extreme emergency, people don't want to know about his logistic of travel. Shinde said in his second televised press conference that, “If I get the plane, I may go in morning (to the site of blasts) or may be at midnight.”

Does this nation, with 7/8 per cent GDP growth in the last decade, not have a plane to take its home minister to Hyderabad right away?

After the 26/11 terror attacks, Chidambaram, then home minister, had launched few big ideas. One was about the National Investigation Agency which is operational -- but without any focus or manpower or a clear turf to operate.

His second idea has become victim of the United Progressive Alliance government's arrogance. Most states are opposing the National Counter-Terrorism Centre. Chidambaram had also envisaged the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) with the highly talented P Raghu Raman, giving him a Rs 10 lakh monthly salary.

It was a brilliant idea to have integrated intelligence grid, but such ambitious projects also need diplomacy to swim through the bureaucracy, party politics and more than anything else it requires through understanding of the balance of power in India’s federal structure.

That's is too much to ask from this government in New Delhi.

The UPA government’s failure in taking post-26 /11 decisions, however weak or strong, to its logical conclusion, has come to haunt it so soon in form of the twin blasts in Hyderabad.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi