Archive for February, 2013

Hyderabad Blasts: Media Brigade *Investigates*.

23 February 2013
Only yesterday Main Stream Media informed that according to Union Home Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, the intelligence inputs about terror attacks were not specific, but general [see Time Again to Talk Terror, Bury Everything Else!].  Times of India fielded today, Bharti Jain, Deeptiman Tiwary and Vishwa Mohan, to turn that statement on its head. Its story, Indian Mujahideen hand becomes clearer in Hyderabad blasts, serves two objectives: It “squarely blames” Andhra Police for their failure to prevent blasts despite the fact they received specific “intelligence inputs” from the central intelligence agencies. Then, it “nails” the perpetrators by making clearer the hand of Indian Mujahideen behind the latest blasts.
When Shinde was skewered over “intelligence failures” in parliament, his story changed to that of ^^the Centre has issued a series of alerts to authorities in Hyderabad about a possible terrorist reprisal against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Although the first alert was general in nature, intelligence agencies, acting on basis of intercepts, refined it to caution that Hyderabad, along with Mumbai,… that a terrorist strike could be in the works manifested itself again on February 20, when it repeated that Hyderabad could be among the likely targets along with other placesThe same anxiety led the government to sound the same alert anew on Thursday morning just eight hours before the bombs went off in Hyderabad,^^.  Acting on “intercepts” intelligence agencies “refine” general alert to “caution”, then “repeat” that Hyderabad could be “likely target” along with others, and finely in “anxiety” repeat the same on the day of the blast. This would hardly inspire confidence in the sleuthing or communication abilities of the intelligence agencies. But Delhi Police it seems directly shared with their Andhra counterparts the following “specific inputs”: ^^Dilsukhnagar fitted the bill, having been surveyed by an IM module as recently as last year. Delhi Police had on the basis of testimonies of two alleged IM terrorists, Syed Maqbool and Imran, told Andhra authorities that the locality was recceed as recently in July last year^^. Delhi Police had claimed this “special knowledge” even yesterday, but today’s report adds they had also shared this “special knowledge” in days just preceding the blasts. Sources in union home affairs ministry [MHA] then tell the journalists that terrorists were “under pressure” to do something spectacular sooner than later, and therefore, they had know option but to strike in areas that they had “recced before” and were “familiar with”. Intelligence Agencies’ Chameleon has changed its colour under our very nose to escape blame for their failures, though the “specific locality” of Dilsukhnagar was not pointed out by them, but by the Delhi Police. Delhi police “did the job” of providing the specific input to their Andhra counterparts we are told, but the “credit” is cleverly snatched by intelligence agencies by pointing to the “pressure” the terrorists were facing. Those familiar with the trade of mainstream journalism tell that journalists have their “favourite sources” and “sources” have their “favourite journalists”. Each uses the other to further one’s agenda, where both are fully aware of the game played and stakes involved in this cosy symbiotic association
Andhra Police are held by the union government as a “model” for other states for the way they decimated Maoists in Andhra. Maoists were reckoned as the gravest threat to India’s security by the man who leads the present Union government. Perhaps aware of the huge dichotomy MHA’s attempt to malign Andhra Police would create, Shinde hastened to add, ^^the calm professionalism of AP cops was worth emulating^^. Was this a backhanded compliment one wonders, because in the next breath the report tells us: ^^But many in his own ministry wondered whether cops could have prevented the carnage by upping their guard in response to a series of advisories. There was also puzzlement about the reasons why they failed to do so despite the fact that terrorists had targeted the same spot in 2007^^. This “puzzlement” is worth examining. Those in Shinde’s ministry should be talking to Shayeed Mirza’s family in Hyderabad to seek answers to their puzzles. That family is puzzled too as to why Mirza’s eldest son, Abdul, failed to avoid serious injuries in 21-02-2013 blasts, when he had already been a victim of May 2007 blasts in Hyderabad.If two parties caught in the same predicament join hands, then may be they would get out of it sooner.
^^Twice (un)lucky: Injured in Mecca Masjid and Dilsukhnagar blasts, he survived both: Abdul was an 18-year-old student when he had gone to the Mecca mosque to pray in May 2007. “At that time, he suffered shrapnel injuries in his abdomen, thighs and face… he was caught in the blasts in Dilsukhnagar, and has again suffered grave injuries. He was operated upon at the Yashoda Hospital late on Thursday, and is now out of danger. But his injuries near the spinal cord could affect him for life, doctors fear^^.
Curiously, the headline of the TOI article though speaks of “Indian Mujahideen Hand becomes clearer….”, it plays out the “blame game” that has now ensued between different arms of nation’s security apparatus for most of its length. Turing to few other things it has to say, it “corrects” yesterday’s news-bit that CCTV cameras in the ill fated locality were dysfunctional [Senior sources disputed reports that the wires of CCTV cameras had been snapped four days ago], and tells that at least some were functional. Then it helpfully informs, ^^The MHA had fewer doubts on Friday about the involvement of Indian Mujahideen in the attack. The bombs carried the signature of IM. Both the devices were packed with ammonium nitrate and shrapnel with a timer mechanism: the staple of IM bomb-makers. The use of cycles to strap bombs has also been an IM trademark since November 2007 when they attacked courts in UP. Both bombs were designed to ensure that the impact of explosions was concentrated on one side: again a stock in trade for IM which has used boat-shaped devices earlier in order to maximize casualties^^. These are the only lines in the long report that talk about Indian Mujahideen’s hands, rest are all about “how to pass the buck”.
Indian Express too fielded today a 3 member team, Johnson T A , Rahul Tripathi, Vijaita Singh, who came with this “16 dead, bombs used timers ‘similar’ to those in Aug ’12 Pune explosives” report. Express journalists spoke to investigators from Andhra Police [APP], National Investigation Agency [NIA], and National Security Guards [NSG]. Express story is at variance with TOI story as one will see soon, may be because their “sources differ”. TOI has relied on MHA sources, who man “the desks”; whereas Express probably relied on teams on the ground in Hyderabad. The Andhra Police explosives experts say, ^^that the bombs were made of ammonium nitrate and used a fuel-oil booster, a quartz timer and aluminium casings. The timers are thought to be similar to those used in the low-intensity bombs that went off in Pune last August… suggested possible similarities with the Pune blast^^. Yesterday’s reports too had talked about similarities with Pune bomb-blasts. Pune’s low intensity blasts were -the Delhi Police, Pune Police, and Anti Terrorist Squad [ATS]-Maharashtra “have concluded- the handiwork of Indian Mujahideen. So, if there are similarities between Dilsukhnagar and Pune bombs, then the former too are the handiwork of Indian Mujahideen- QED. That is the line of reasoning, which seems to be “helped” to gain ascendancy. However, the Express report derails this ascendancy by quoting NSG explosives experts: ^^the “directional” nature of the bombs as well as the fact that they presumably had neither ball bearings nor shrapnel made them distinct from the failed Pune blasts. “The IEDs recovered in Pune were not directional and had ball bearings and shrapnel. This is a major difference. If the same terror module was involved in the blast, they have definitely changed their modus operandi,^^. The last line betrays that NSG experts are conscious of the promotion of Indian Mujahideen as the perpetrators of the blasts and have kept an “escape route” open if hauled up for disagreeing with “emerging official line”. Be that as it may, there is no unanimity as to what constitutes [directional nature or not, presence of ball bearings and shrapnel or not, presence of fuel oil or not] the “signature” of “Indian Mujahideen”.
Some possible takeaways from above analysis are:
  1. No one is any wiser as yet about the real perpetrators. But are pretending they are on top of the game by floating all manners of possible theories.
  2. A decision has already been made to blame some outfit, most likely Indian Mujahideen, but rather than taking a straight path to blame it, a more circuitous route is selected out of “political compulsions”. Circuitous route also helps hide poor investigation by creating a façade of great deliberation and meticulousness.
  3. Blame game that has began at the top of the pyramid, that is Ministry of Home Affairs, may be a part of concerted plan to plant stories and foment confusion, but which may ultimately help hide the real perpetrators.
  4. There is another helpful leak too: Days ago, PC had written to PM to push NCTC. P Chidambaram had failed abjectly in his Home minister avatar to “push” his favourite US template of National counter Terrorism Centre [NCTC] and NATGRID. As if by establishing such highfalutin centres India’s security is going to suddenly improve. After all same jokers from the security establishment are going to man them whatever the name.
PS: Marathi Newspaper, लोकमत [Lokmat], carried news today citing senior officer of Maharashtra ATS that four days earlier its informants had called from Hyderabad to tell they had seen Asadulla Akhtar Javed Akhtar alias Tarbej and Vakaas alias Ahmed [wanted bomb experts and IM operatives] in town; but ATS proved to lazy to act on the “intelligence”. 

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