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10 years on, India remains vulnerable to terror strikes

By Vicky Nanjappa
December 13, 2011 13:30 IST
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The chronology of attacks India has witnessed after the Parliament attack shows that India has not been able to counter homegrown terror, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

It has been ten years since India witnessed one of its most outrageous terror attacks -- on Indian Parliament, no less.

After an attack of such magnitude, one would have expected a complete clean-up of the system, but if we were to look at the chronology of terror attacks that have taken place after the Parliament attack, it paints quite a pathetic picture.

September 24, 2002: Akshardham temple attack in Gujarat, 31 killed.

March 13, 2003: Bomb blast on commuter train in Mumbai, 11 killed.

August 25, 2003: Twin car bombings in Mumbai that left at least 52 people dead.

July 5, 2005: Attack on the Ram Janmabhoomi complex.

October 29, 2005: Three major blasts in Delhi in which 59 persons were killed.

March 7, 2006: Serial blasts at Varanasi, 28 killed.

July 11, 2006: 200 dead in serial blasts on Mumbai local trains.

September 8, 2006: 37 dead in Malegaon blasts.

February 18, 2007: Blast onboard the Samjhauta Express.

May 18, 2007: Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad, 13 killed.

August 25, 2007: Twin blasts at Hyderabad, 42 killed.

October 11, 2007: Blast at Ajmer.

November 23, 2007: Blasts at a court in Uttar Pradesh.

May 13, 2008: Serial blasts in Jaipur, 63 killed.

July 25, 2008: Bengaluru serial blasts in which one person was killed.

July 26, 2008: Serial blasts at Ahmedabad, 45 killed.

September 13, 2008: Serial blasts in New Delhi, 21 killed.

September 27, 2008: Blast in a New Delhi flower market in which one person died.

November 26, 2008: One of the worst incidents on Indian soil, the infamous 26/11 attack in which over 150 persons lost their lives.

February 13, 2010: Blasts at Pune's German Bakery in which 17 persons lost their lives.

September 19, 2010: Firing and blast outside Delhi's Jama Masjid.

December 7, 2010: Blast at Varanasi leaves one toddler dead

July 13, 2011: Blasts in Mumbai in which 27 persons lost their lives.

September, 11, 2011: Blast at Delhi high court, 11 killed.

The Parliament attack made India realise the threat of terrorism. India realised that terror groups from across the border were capable of hitting the epicentre of the country. While India managed to tackle the issue of cross-border terrorism to an extent, it has failed to counter home-grown terror, which is clear when you look at the chronology of attacks India has witnessed.

Two types of terrorism emerged after the Parliament attack; home-grown jihad, and terrorism in the form of counter-attacks by Hindu radicals. There was a great deal of dominance by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba post the Parliament attack. However, Pakistan realised that if it continued to use its own forces, then there was a great chance of things getting out hand and it snowballing into a full-fledged war.

The immediate target was the Students Islamic Movement of India. The Inter-Services Intelligence did manage to tap into the more radical elements in this organisation and train them for terror operations. This eventually led to the ban of the entire group, which only enhanced the resolve of some of the radical elements.

However, SIMI was unable to function for too long as security agencies were on their trail. There was a gradual breakaway of the SIMI and it emerged into the deadly Indian Mujahideen. Although some members of this group were readying themselves for the big job since the year 2003, their emergence was seen only in 2007 during the Uttar Pradesh court blasts.

After these blasts a mail was sent out in the name of the IM. Although no one took them seriously at that time, they did manage to prove that they were the next big force to reckon with. Intelligence Bureau officials had even termed them as the SIMI II.

While the IM went about its operations in the most brazen manner using both technology and ideology to the fullest, the country witnessed another form of terrorism. The spate of attacks on Indian soil by radicals both from India and Pakistan angered right-wing extremists. This led to a series of attacks at Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and also on the Samjhauta Express.

The immediate blame after these blasts was put on Islamic terror outfits. However, it was only much later that the real picture emerged. The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad -- then headed by the late Hemant Karkare -- while investigating the matter found that it was a group led by Col Purohit, Sunil Joshi and Sadhvi Pragya that executed these attacks.

The investigation also went on to reveal that there were more people such as Swami Aseemanand who were involved in these attacks.

Today India cannot claim that it has dealt a deadly blow to terrorists. Intelligence Bureau officials say the threat from across the border is deadlier. While home-grown terrorism continues to be a worry, the bigger attacks would always emerge out of Pakistan and the 26/11 attack is proof of the same, they point out.

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