Monday, July 28, 2008

Aftermath of the Bombings

Two days after the bombing, there does not seem to have been much progress in the investigations. A few folks have been arrested with one in TN being claimed to have stopped bombings on the independence day. As for the other two, one is a 'SIMI activist' wanted since 2002 whose connection to the bombings is not clear (but is only known to be a fundamentalist). The third is an American arrested in Mumbai because one of the emails of the 'Indian Mujahideen' purportedly had his IP address; in his defense, he claims that his computer was hacked by unknown people about a week ago, a story the police are still in the process of verifying. Apart from the arrest of one man in Varanasi yesterday, there has been no progress in the Jaipur blasts since the internet cafe from which the poorly worded email was sent was located. And finally, virtually no convictions in any of the recent bombings so far. Altogether, a terrible record of investigations let alone any progress towards prevention.

The Union government's stupid statements would have been hilarious were it not for the poignancy of the moment and the worrying impotence of the government in light of the emerging threat. As Retributions pointed out, the Minister of State for Home Affairs ridiculously said: "We are surprised and shocked. Yesterday, it was Banglore. Today it is Ahmedabad. This happened even after the government of India issued high alerts to all sensitive states." As Rohit at Retributions points out aptly, 'someone should tell the honorable minister that terrorists don’t go by government of India’s advisories'. To top this, the BJP has now ended up showing that it can do even better. Sushma Swaraj virtually accused the Manmohan Singh government of orchestrating the blasts in order to 'divert attention from cash-for-votes scam'. Sushmaji represents a lot of what is wrong with the BJP today. A gifted orator and a very dynamic leader, she has long suffered from an utter lack of vision, small-mindedness and a love for gutter politics, traits that render her completely unfit for high office. This latest instance only underlines her cheap mentality.

Advani has done somewhat better in endorsing the PM's call for a federal agency to investigate terrorist incidents of this nature. It was reported today that the PM has asked the Home Minister to 'go full steam ahead' to set up such a nodal agency against the backdrop of this challenge. Again, do not expect any of this to be a success right away - state governments have been dragging their feet over such a proposal and may well decide to deny their cooperation if it comes into existence notwithstanding their opposition. And of course, the BJP has not given up its mantra for 'tough' POTA/POTA-like legislation, a suggestion of dubious value.

On the whole, the going is not only disappointing but of great concern. Newspapers across the country including The Hindu have begun to ask hard questions but what effect any of this will have remains in the realm of hope and speculation. Meanwhile, it is virtually certain that the country is destined to witness more bombings in the same/different cities. Given the terrorists' excellent track record in evading the agencies' eyes so far, it also provides considerable motivation for the various other terrorist outfits in Kashmir, Assam, AP and other places to rework their strategy along similar lines. With great trepidation, the country must prepare for the bloody months ahead.


socal said...

I'm repulsed by your language against Sushma Swaraj, and no this doesn't have to do anything because I like her or something. When the incompetence of the Home Minister and the Prime Minister should invite the highest disdain you somehow manage to reserve your ire for Sushma Swaraj?!

Terrorist shit has hit the fan; the whole nation is in the gutter. And where should our priority be? On a politician's statement?!

The action or rather inaction of the govt. has ensured that the ordinary citizens are being smited like bugs.

What hard questions is The Hindu asking btw? And what are its serious answers, if any, to those "hard" questions? Chindu's complacent response to loss of lives of innocent civilians and its panic response to an overnight jail stay of its family's leading lights under JJ stand in sharp contrast. Has it shown that urgency or desperation in speaking up for the victims of this jihadi terrorism? Ever?

Why is a tough law like POTA not helpful? Please don't tell me that because there were blasts when POTA was in effect it didn't work. By that stupid logic, something that dynasty lapdog Rajiv Shukla has been repeating ad nauseam, we will have to abrogate all laws since none has succeeded in preventing crimes of almost all kind.

Dirt Digger said...

While we understand your angst on this issue, I will have to side with Pilid on this issue. Sushma Swaraj without evidence making irresponsible statements does not serve the BJP's cause. During the various Parliamentary discussions, the BJP often allowed T.R.Baalu to speak simply because he made their points for them.
Ms. Swaraj rather than understanding the situation and providing some insight, wastes people's time on this issue.
But you raise a great point on POTA, we'll address it soon.

Anonymous said...

Pillid, DD

I am surprised at over-reaction!

What sushma has said, can not be 'discounted' summarily, especially looking at the prevailing circumstances which are 'shrouded in mystery'.

I am not sure about how much you know about the happenings in Punjab in late 80s! The 'rise and fall' of jarnail Singh Bhinderwala, Operation Blue star, Indira's assassination followed up by the 'GENOCIDE' of Sikhs.

I am not sure, DD and Pilid, how much you know or tried to find out about the 'convenient timings' of Communal flare ups in UP and Bihar, just right ahead of general election, damning RSS for that and 'HARVESTING' secular votes!

I know all this. Period.

Therefore, I am not foreclosing the option/theory as Sushma 'fears'.

Sushma is a senior leader and know what she is talking about, equally sure she is and know what she means.

If your not so controlled 'indignation' @ Sushma for not being 'Politically Correct', is a step forward to gain entry in to 'Secular' club(!) :) - This of course, I DO NOT KNOW. :)


Anonymous said...

socal and PI gave it pretty good.

the tone in this post is pretty similar to LiCs many editorials. This for instance - "And of course, the BJP has not given up its mantra for 'tough' POTA/POTA-like legislation, a suggestion of dubious value".

that could have been straight from a chindu editorial. or may be it is.

why is the suggestion for tough legislation to fight terror of 'dubious' value? Because your eminence asserts it to be so? Or has that suggestion been proved to be of 'dubious' value elsewhere, by another eminence making that assertion?

why did gurjar agitation flare up just days after jaipur blasts?

why did the mujahideen email refer to gurjar agitation?

and i dont know who else is asking hard questions. i saw some tv channels playing images of Patil uttering nonsense after every blast. It is funny if you want to believe that this is asking 'hard questions'. Looks to me like they are working hard to deflect attention from Patil's political masters for their lack of political will, prompted by their fear of minority votes. Good if you get taken in. yeah, lets blame it on Patil's incompetence.

Bhranthan said...

Pilid and DD,

The point is, one can not, for sure, rule out that there is such an angle also, as indicated by Sushama Swaraj. Can you rule out with certainty ? Manmohan personally may not have done anything to orchestrate such blasts. But can you rule out the possibility of Amar Singh and his gang planning something crooked ? -- I cannot rule out that for sure. Can you rule out the possibility of US agencies themselves planning something like this so that the gov will not be questioned on the "cash-for-vote" scam, making sure Manmohan will remain until the deal is finally signed ? There is a *non-zero* probability for any of these to have happened -- however small that probability may be.

I think BJP responded very sensibly. Its leader Advani reacted cautiously highlighting the most probable scenario -- real terrorist striking. But someone in the BJP had to let the world know that there are other possibilities also. Sushama did that job.

Two days after the bombing, there does not seem to have been much progress in the investigations

I don't think so! This news report says that they have got the complete history of the WagonR cars, like where they were stolen from etc, and they have checked the tax toll records to find its route and got info about a Vadodara SIMI meeting. So there is progress in the investigations.
And police is unlikely to reveal everything they know to the media!

Hazmat said...

Chindu has IGNORED swaraj sushma statement. that should tells you somethings!!!!!

No to Pilid said...

Pilid has become Chindu lover. I vote we should expel her from our midst.

Anonymous said...

On the face of it, Sushma's claims may seem outrageous and scoring political points. But, the central govt. got new supporters who are very much known for the kind of (secular) company they keep. And these fellows are caught up in an embarassing cotroversy implicating their star broker himself. Perhaps he wants to settle some scores with BJP.

Pilid said...

Socal, DD, theprudentIndian, bhranthan, hazmat and all the Anons,
Thanks for all your comments.

The Hindu editorial two days ago said this:
“Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has promised a ‘comprehensive plan’ to deal with the challenge — but did not spell out what action was contemplated nor why the Union Government has taken five years to decide it must have one. Sadly, pronouncements like this have followed each terrorist attack in recent years, as part of a ritualistic set of actions intended to reassure people that the government is working to make their lives more secure. Police deployment in public places is enhanced; random checks on traffic are stepped up; metal-detectors are installed in shopping complexes. But the truth is that not a single urban terrorist has been arrested in street checks; nor have searches at shopping complexes led to the detection of even one bomb. Measures like these cannot meet the terrorist threat. Cities, as any security professional knows, cannot be turned into fortresses.”

Quite true. This has been, in a nutshell, pretty much the government’s approach to the terrorist problem since the day it took office. The Indian Express had a more strongly worded editorial but the point about the government’s effete response on every occasion was about the same.

Socal, there was no single focus of my post, only a round-up of the events and comments in the aftermath of the bombings.
Hazmat, good that you noticed. The Hindu, it appears, is certainly batting for the BJP for strategic reasons.

TheprudentIndian, yes there is always a ‘non-zero’ probability of something but politics is for the most part at least, about the balance of probabilities and by that standard which applies even to opposition parties, the odds that the government orchestrated are too low to merit mention. You raise the issue of the 1984 riots in Delhi which is not applicable to the present for a variety of reasons. For one thing, those were in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by Sikh bodyguards; the cash-for-votes scam does not raise to that level by any stretch. Secondly, we have had scams in the past with even ministers in the Congress government implicated and no similar blasts have happened or even if there were any, none has ever implicated any politician even at the level of surmise. Thirdly, this is not the modus operandi of political violence in India. Politicians generally resort to rioting by instigating their supporters and the acts are pointed at someone in particular – opposition party/group/political rival/community. I am not aware of politicians orchestrating random bomb blasts in populated areas to kill generally but not anyone in particular. Finally of course, none of the evidence in any of these blasts has ever as much as hinted in that direction. Put all of those things together and the chance that the government has done this is about as much as the possibility that extraterrestrial aliens were responsible for it.

Anons, in a large country like ours, there are always numerous other events going on at the same time and coincidences are inevitable. Terrorists too keep a tab on political events which would explain the mention of the gurjar agitation in their email (if there was one – I do not know this) but without more evidence, I am not at all persuaded that they are linked. Digvijay Singh, in the same vein, hinted at associations which are equally implausible in my view. The most plausible explanation is that the terrorists are aiming at something bigger than victory in some byelection or short-term political advantage for some party.
Branthan, you are right of course that the police has made some more headway in the investigations which is welcome. Let us see whether that will lead to actually someone being apprehended eventually.

Why is POTA of ‘dubious value’?

First of all, the stumbling block here has the severe paucity of leads. The only way POTA could change that is if one believes that hauling up all Muslims particularly from slums and detaining them for up to 6 months without reason or explanation is likely to yield something. I have my doubts about such an approach. In my view, the cops ought to get some evidence before they hold someone – the mere fact that someone is Muslim and living in a slum area cannot be reason enough for being penalized; also, the anger that it will induce in a large segment of that community holds dangers that I am not sure are justified. If any evidence is available, then POTA becomes unnecessary – current laws are strong enough to hold someone in custody for interrogation.
Secondly, as the Home Minister pointed out yesterday, the majority of POTA’s provisions were incorporated into the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2004. So the repeal of POTA was limited essentially to its most egregious provisions, not to the Act itself as a whole. A large part of these provisions that were altered related to definitions, etc. that affect conviction of terrorist suspects which is not the issue here at this time at all.

Dirt Digger said...

Observing any action and coming to a black or white conclusion is one way of looking at things. However what Sushma is referring to, is based on what she states as circumstantial evidence raising the popular bogeys of conspiracy theories. Problem is there is no evidence linking the two incidents she's referring to.
It would be nice to investigate that angle, but problem still remains that most of the culprits are still at large, their networks are unidentified, their future plans unknown.
The problem IMHO is that the entire issue is treated like a criminal activity(though at some level it is). But the larger problem is ideological, financial and political.
1. Ideological - These organizations have a simple no tolerance policy towards other religions.
2. Financial - For any operation, probably barring mass lynching, to succeed the financial backing is needed. Where is the money coming from? How are these organizations freely tapping into it?
3. Political - In the Arthashasthra, Chanakya clearly states that every country has to be aware that its neighboring country is its enemy. India has at least 3, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. How is the Government tackling these countries over the issues of National Security?

Laws like POTA are useful tools no doubt, but like any sophisticated weapon you need a trained soldier to operate it and not give it to a monkey.

Again thanks for your thoughts, but it appears we are looking at the problem from different views but with the same intent.

Anonymous said...

"You raise the issue of the 1984 riots in Delhi which is not applicable to the present for a variety of reasons." OF COURSE! But pray tell me what those are? Congress is same, so is the culture1 Isn't it? What has changed since then?

BTW, Sushma DID NOT accuse anybody, she said she 'feared it' could be the case.

As for,"...For one thing, those were in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by Sikh bodyguards;...", am sure you are not justifying it! Or are you?

Reread all and especially this,"the cash-for-votes scam does not raise to that level by any stretch." it seems you are justifying Sikh Massacre of 1984!!

Very SAD then, Pilid. Very sad indeed!

As for 'modus operandi of political violence and all'... and further you say 'you are not aware of..." is confusing.

Either you know modus operandi or you do not.

Any way what about the points i raised about Bhinderwala and about Zail singh and about Hidyatullaha and Riots in 70s and 80s???????????/

Pilid, tell me frankly when did you last have a brush with the history post 1940? :)

Come on, I am not here to score some 'brownie points' but surely i know what I am talking about. I have sustained TWO BULLET MARKS ON MY BOTH LEGS.I know what terrorism is. I have seen people die on roads. Any day come and check the 'scars of terrorism' on my personal being, so, my level of tolerance is below ZERO.

Pilid, DD, Lotus Petal and you all, I have been supporting you and your this blog since the very first post LP published, so were the support extended to me too, I have no issues whatever or Ego problems, all I say is please do not dilute your resolve to fight the political correctness, lest you loose your way.

PS: Lotus Petal, contact me if you can.

Anonymous said...

I have been playing 'Devils Advocate' since morning... :)

Nonetheless,I agree with you,"Laws like POTA are useful tools no doubt, but like any sophisticated weapon you need a trained soldier to operate it and not give it to a monkey."

"Again thanks for your thoughts, but it appears we are looking at the problem from different views but with the same intent.", yes doubtlessly. But then are we not two different individuals and believe in democracy, my friend?


Good Night, yes if possible do check my latest one. :)


Pilid said...

I agree that the investigation must extend to unravel all aspects of the terrorist network – ideological, political and financial. As I pointed out, POTA was never repealed fully – most substantive provisions were incorporated in the amending enactment. It is at the very least a debatable question whether additional legal measures are the need of the hour or better enforcement or both. There is no doubt a good case for the latter.
Prudent Indian, I did not condone or justify the Sikh massacre – I only said that bribery allegations, unlike assassination of a popular prime minister, are an insufficient motive for mass murder in any form.

Raghav said...

Chindu did not ignore Sushma's statements, please read this -->

Pilid said...

Thanks Raghav. I had not seen that.

Anonymous said...

Dear DD,
Thanks for some kind words. 

DD, yes there are no material evidence to suggest / indicate complicity of ANY ONE not even the Jihadis, investigations are own and am afraid will end to where all others have reached so far, that is back to where they started?

That is what I lament. All this is Mundane Routine.

Now as far as what Sushma said or meant. Well, I am only urging as did barabarIndian too and some many others as well, that why should we not look at recent bombings from this angel?

Any efficient investigator would look at the things from many different angels and shall ‘eliminate’ probabilities if and when facts do not substantiate that. If the Investigator completely rules out one particular angel before even probe is started, he might end up with wrong conclusions.

There are some suspects in each case. Each suspect is ‘suspected’ for
1. Suspect gets any benefit (financial, political, personal, sexual, ideological or any other) and that is Motive for committing crime.
2. Suspect is suspected to have provided any sort of assistance, motivation, encouragement or even passive support.
3. Past record.
4. Circumstances.

If only, when investigations prove that a particular suspect comes clean on all the above parameters, then only he is exonerated.

Case in point is the Aarushi and Hemraj (Noida double murder). Just as the investigators completely ignored an angel and spent all their energies in proving what they ‘felt was the case’, they neither could gather any evidence nor could prove the ‘suspect- they thought) guilty. Resulting, egg all over their face.

Now revisit the statement Sushama made. But let me clear, Sushama might have thrown a hint but where did she name UPA or govt? Yes, technically speaking, when did she name UPA or Govt? 

MOTIVE: Now, she has explained what she thinks could be the motive. 1. To distract attention from Amoral Victory and 2. As she says, to win back Muslims, in case they feel offended by Indo Us Nuclear Deal.

Circumstances: Well, the same as she said. Trust vote and two BJP ruled states bombed!

Past Record: If you go by the past record of Congress governments, you won’t doubt her.

Now Usual Suspects: We both are not so politically innocent to ignore the ‘political mechanizations’ of past one fortnight or so! Neither my fellow Prudent Indians are so naïve.

Where is the evidence?
Investigate from this perspective; you might be in for some Nasty surprises.

The old cliché “All are innocent till proven guilty” does not mean any thing, in case you REALLY want to fight terrorism. “All and every one is a suspect – applying the scale as above, till proven otherwise”.

Prudent Indian.

I strongly condemn quoting figures by either party to make a claim or countering that. For me all were living Human Beings, every single one of them. Please, every single one who died in these blasts has a name, a family, and some many loving ones, left behind. Each life lost is a loss to so many people, this loss just can not be ‘computed’ on excel sheets .

Dirt Digger said...

The facts you presented with the Arushi murder case clearly point out how following due process blindly leads the case on the wrong path. However what I’m saying here is, the nexus between the UPA and the terrorists is flimsy at best.
Even the points about the coincidence of timing is flimsy at best. Is it possible? sure. Does the UPA gain from these incidents? absolutely. A communal riot would probably be the best thing that could happen for them.
Problem is Congress is pretty good at corruption, negligence and general inefficiency. Calling the SIMI hotline and placing an order for an attack is something which needs more evidence. For example, after 9/11 there were a bunch of conspiracy theorists who came up with this theory about US Govt. involvement and came up with a video:
Check it out, interesting watch. But point is its circumstantial evidence and lot of valid sources point out logical flaws in their concept.
Now if Sushma Swaraj wants to play a political gambit by forcing the UPA on its toes, then she better be careful as gambits like these when not played correctly comes back to bite those who do play them.
Besides creating incidents like these ensures that the Govt. looks inefficient in terms of National Security and provides an opportunity for the voters to choose the opposition parties, doesn’t look like a real smart ploy for the UPA.
Now if some leader were to get “bumped off” by these chumps that will get some sympathy votes, but even then the last time it happened it did not give the Congress a majority.
PS: Quoting numbers does not disrespect the victims of the terrorist attacks. Forgetting them and not raising the importance of getting the criminals to justice and not preventing future attacks is really disrespecting them and their families. People need to know the facts.

Anonymous said...

"A large part of these provisions that were altered related to definitions, etc. that affect conviction of terrorist suspects which is not the issue here at this time at all."


"The only way POTA could change that is if one believes that hauling up all Muslims particularly from slums and detaining them for up to 6 months without reason or explanation is likely to yield something."

what are the stats on under-trial prisoners in jail under POTA? and a breakup of that stats between BJP ruled states - gujarat in particular - and other states like Maharashtra?

and what are the stats on under-trial prisoners in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, earlier under acts like TADA?

it was not probably the intention, but is there a suggestion here that those asking for tough anti-terror laws are also those who round up poor muslims from slums and jail them indefinitely without any reason? and thus cause 'rightful and justified' alienation etc leading to more bomb attacks?

if there are actual numbers, such veiled suggestions (or insinuations) aimed at a particular party would be unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Under how many pretexts can political parties and the govts. (state and central) can afford to hide to explain their inaction? Whether it is MISA, TADA or POTA or LOTA, what is required is sheer political will more than fancy four letter words.

But, our netas find it convenient to escape and evade action by:
1)heaping praise on the affected population (great resilience, no retaliation etc.)
2) announce compensation to the wounded and killed, as if the victims were just waiting for it. 3) invoking the sensitivity, feeling of alienation of some sections of the society.
4) await the next bombing session and repeat the cycle 1 to 3.

It is not robots who fabricate and plant the bombs. In the meanwhile, the bombers relish their acts and mock at the nation.

Anonymous said...

"But, our netas find it convenient to escape and evade action by: "

not all netas deal with it this way. check Modi's response from surat, reported by BBC -

We are fighting a proxy war and people, government, media, opinion makers, etc should come together to create awareness and work together to fight this war," Chief Minister Narendra Modi said after visiting the areas where bombs were found in Surat.

"There are certain rules of a war and if we do not fight, then terrorists will continue to attack us," he said.

Pilid said...

Anon, I do not have the statistics at hand but have seen any number of accounts that POTA does disproportionately affect Muslims. That in itself is not surprising but ask yourself, what else can the purpose of allowing 6-month long detention without evidentiary requirements can be? I cannot conceive of any other reason for it.

I agree that there is a great deal of cynicism and feel the same way. In my view, the best way to combat the problem is by starting with a plan to fix the institutional inadequacies. That was the sort of long-term exercise that the US Congress began working on soon after 9/11 and is still ongoing. How many similar exercises has India carried out in light of the terrorist campaign? I am aware of none. We had the Subramanyam committee report after the Kargil war whose recommendations were carried out but nothing so far that I am aware of with respect to the terrorist campaign.

Anonymous said...

"Anon, I do not have the statistics at hand but have seen any number of accounts that POTA does disproportionately affect Muslims."

glad you admit that you did not have any data to back your charges. next Q - what are the stats on muslim terrorists versus non-muslim terrorists?

"but ask yourself, what else can the purpose of allowing 6-month long detention without evidentiary requirements can be? "

is POTA the only law before or after? Particularly after POTA was repealed? are there no other laws that allow for long detentions without even any charges, forget evidences?

do you know that the state of TN can use a 'Goonda' act for people dealing with pirated CDs? do you believe that pirated CDs are much more serious threat than terrorism?

i do not want a 'two wrongs do not make a right' answer to this. i know that would be pretty readily coming.

B Shantanu said...

Pilid: Great post and comments...It was amongst the ones that inspired my latest post, "Tackling Terrorism: One Step at a Time"...

For whatever they are worth, here are my 7 suggestions to tackle this menace (in no particular order):

The Political Will

Effective Policing and Intelligence Coordination

The role of the “middle class”

The role of the Muslim community

The role of Pakistan

Better Legislation

The Ideological Challenge

More in my latest post: