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Home > News > Report

Smaller towns are the new terror targets: IB

Vicky Nanjappa in New Delhi | October 15, 2007 13:56 IST

Five acts of terror killing over 60 persons, and all this in a span of just five months. The question that races across our minds is 'Is there an outbreak of terror in India?'

Intelligence Bureau officials say the Mecca Masjid, the twin blasts in Hyderabad and the Ajmer blasts are interconnected and it was the same outfit which carried out these attacks.

However, the blasts at Ludhiana open a new chapter in terrorism in India and mark the revival of Sikh militancy in Punjab.

Reports suggest that all the blasts had one common agenda and that was to cause to communal disturbance within the country. The IB warns of more such attacks in the future and says that smaller towns in the country could fall prey to terrorist attacks in the future.

The general tendency of the police is to secure bigger towns and this strategy has been sensed by terror outfits who feel that targetting smaller towns will now be a more successful venture.

The IB also says that in future, terrorists could target places where people gather in large numbers. Following the Mecca Masjid blasts and the Ajmer blast, security has been beefed up at all religious places, as a result of which terrorists may find it hard to penetrate into such places.

Hence there is every possibility of bus stands, cinema halls, malls, railway stations and markets being possible terror targets.

Another question that needs to be answered is whether all the five blasts have any common links. The most common is that all are acts of terror and each one aimed at disrupting communal harmony.

While the Mecca Masjid and the twin blasts in Hyderabad had just one agenda, the pattern in the Ajmer blasts had a slight shift. In Hyderabad, the only intention was to cause communal tension. However after the twin blasts, there was no sign of any sort of communal disharmony anywhere in the country.

The Bangladesh-based militant outfit HuJI, which is being blamed for the all the attacks except the one at Ludhiana had a slight shift in stance when it came to the Ajmer blasts. The blast at Ajmer not only aimed at causing communal tension but also sought to unify Islam. Through the blasts, the intention was spread the message that Muslims should not worship anyone else other than Allah or Prophet.

The IB says that the blasts at Ludhiana were planned well in advance. The IB also says that the Sikh militants had been training hard with the ISI in Pakistan for quite some time and this could be the beginning of terror in Punjab.

It is said that the Sikh militants who have been lying low for some time now have rejuvenated themselves. With the aid of the ISI, they will try and cause more disturbances in the country. The ISI too needed a partner in the Indian borders and hence they were training these militants hard for the past few years, the IB also says.

The Ludhiana blast does not have any religious sentiments attached to it and was aimed at spreading terror in the country, the IB says.

Intelligence failure?

Following the series of blasts, the blame game has begun once again.

While the police point out an intelligence failure, the IB says that information passed on by them has not been acted upon. In the case of all the three Hyderabad blasts, the IB says that they had prior information and had passed it on to the police.

At Mecca Masjid, security was slack despite warnings by the IB. The IB also claims that it had tipped of the police before the twin blasts and also the Ajmer and Ludhiana blasts.

The argument by the police is that the IB is never specific. Following the Ajmer blasts, security had been beefed up only at religious places. There was no information of terror attacks on public places, the police say.

The IB argues that even after a major RDX haul in Punjab barely a week before the blasts, they had tipped of the police about a possible terror attack. Additional Director General of Police Chandrashekhar says that there is a lot that the public should do in such cases.

It is time that the people become more vigilant, he says.

The IB says that the Punjab police should have been more vigilant after the RDX haul last week. That was a clear indication that some outfits were planning to carry out attacks in Punjab.

Moreover another warning ignored was the one sounded by Home Minister Shivraj Patil who had only last week at a conference said that places of religious worship and places where people congregate will be targeted in future.

Trail of terror:

  • Mecca Masjid blasts, Hyderabad (May 18, 2007): Over 10 persons died in the blast, which were reportedly carried out by HuJI.
  • Twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat, Hyderabad (August 25, 2007):
    Over 40 dead lost their lives in the serial blasts that once again were reported to be carried out by HuJI.
  • Blast at Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's shrine in Ajmer (October 12, 2007): Three people died in the blast; yet again HuJI is the prime suspect.
  • Blast in Ludhiana multiplex (October 14, 2007): Six persons died in the explosion; Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Babbar Khalsa are the main suspects.