India has become a prime target for terrorist attacks, as evident from the numerous cases of bombing and shooting that claimed the lives of hundreds, mostly innocent people. Our country is now a haven for different terrorist factions, that include the Naxalites (India’s own home-bred group of terrorists), Indian Mujahidin, and sleeper cells of international terrorists. The Indian government has realized this late, but better late than never. However, the Government is still sluggish in adopting the aggressive counter-terrorist measures needed to contain and neutralize the current explosive situation. While the terrorists continue killing people in the name of the Jihaad, twisting the principles of the Quran, the Indian government is showing more aptitude for damage control rather than actually seeking out the terrorists and neutralizing them.
The series of explosions that ripped through the city of Patna (Bihar) on the 27th of October, 2013, is yet another example of terrorist atrocity, now so prevalent in our country. The explosions occurred at the site of the extensive election campaign rally (designated ‘Hunkar’ Rally), planned to promote the candidature of the BJP Prime Ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi. The blasts killed six people, leaving 83 others injured. The victims of the blast belonged to the 300,000 demonstrators gathered in the Gandhi Maidan for the proposed ‘Hunkar’ rally. The series of explosions started at 10 a.m., with a bomb detonating in a public toilet in the Patna Railway Station, located at the center of the city, killing one person and injuring another. Following this, two live bombs were recovered by the bomb disposal unit and diffused. The second explosion occurred at 12:10 p.m., followed by another at 12:25 p.m., both in the proximity of the Gandhi Maidan, the proposed site for Narendra Modi’s ‘Hunkar’ rally. This was followed by a series of five more detonations, three in the proximity of the Gandhi Maidan and two in the vicinity of a movie hall and the Twin Tower building complex of Patna, respectively.
Investigations into the series of explosions in Patna
As of October 30, 2013, the National Investigative Agency (NIA) has been vested with the responsibility of the investigations. The said investigations were ratified by the Bihar government after a joint decision by the Union Home Minister Shushilkumar Shinde (who, incidentally, announced the NIA investigations) and the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar is expecting full cooperation of the Central Government to counter the terrorist attempts. Underlining the Bihar government’s lack of apparatus for countermanding terrorist activities, the CM commented, “We have discussed the issue [blasts]. We have to strengthen our anti–terror capabilities, as Bihar has not witnessed any such major incident. But we need the Center’s help. We need force and equipment. We have also decided to set up an anti-terrorist squad”. The CM also emphasized the fact that the Bihar government had no prior warning of any such attack. He expressed his hope that the interrogation of one of the arrested perpetrators will prove fruitful in arresting the rest of the terrorists. He explained that, the major reason for handing over the bomb blasts case to the NIA is because of their superior experience and expertise in coping with terrorist attacks, which is conducive with the opinions of the DG, Bihar Police. He further asserted the complete cooperation of the Bihar Police with the NIA in the proposed investigations.
The Bihar Police strongly suspects an IM connection in the string of explosions that rocked Patna. The prime suspect of the police is one Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu, supposedly the leader of the Ranchi IM faction and the mastermind behind the Patna blasts, and possibly behind the Bodhgaya explosions of July 2013. While the Bihar and the Jharkhand Police are scouring the state, Monu, wanted by the NIA, has evaded the police net and is currently absconding, with a prize of Rs. 10 lakh on his head. Two perpetrators, one Mohammad Imtiaz Ansari and one Ainul had been nabbed by the police from the Patna Railway Station, soon after the detonation of the first bomb. As per the statement of a senior police official to the media, “An FIR has been filed at the Gandhi Maidan police station and six accused have been named. Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu, believed to be a close aide of the arrested IM operative Yaseen Bhatkal, has been named in the FIR. Imtiaz Ansari, one of the two terrorists who were arrested yesterday, had apparently been in touch with Akhtar”.
Reflecting on the mode of operation of the terrorists, the police explained to the media: “Entire planning of the attack was done in Ranchi. They reached Patna by bus from Ranchi on the morning of the rally and divided themselves into groups. Their plan was to plant bombs at various locations”. Apparently, activities of the first group, arming the bomb at the Patna Railway Station, aroused the suspicion of the police. Immediately following this, the first of the bombs detonated. One perpetrator, who probably lost his nerve, was apprehended by the police immediately while trying to escape. The other perpetrator was hospitalized with severe injuries, where he ultimately met his demise. The arrested terrorist admitted planting of more bombs under interrogation, but by then it was too late to do anything, because the chain of explosions had already started. Imtiaz, the arrested and surviving terrorist, was sentenced to judicial custody for a period of seven days by the court of the Railways Magistrate, to be handed over to the police custody soon. Imtiaz had admitted the involvement of a total of six terrorists, and a statewide manhunt is on for the escaped perpetrators.
BJP’s reaction to the entire bomb blast incident
The move of the BJP is a predictable one. Using the Patna bomb blasts as a launch pad, the BJP is ready to embark on a nationwide campaign, highlighting the inadequacy of the ruling government to counter terrorist activities and the loopholes in the security, which the BJP is terming as ‘deliberate’. The other major aspect the campaign will focus on, is the ‘attack on its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and other senior leaders’, as a direct consequence of the laxity in the security and the negligence of terrorism issues of the government. Press meets will be organized by the BJP leaders in various major cities of the country as a part of this campaign, like Mumbai, Bhopal, Bangalore Chandigarh, Patna and Kolkata, to make the public aware of the sole political motives of the ruling government, at the cost of jeopardizing national security.
Incidentally, the uncle of the alleged Monu in the Patna bomb blast case, one Taqui Akhtar, turns out to be a member of the JD (U), who vehemently denied any connections with the prime suspect.
It seems that the Jihaad curriculum of the IM covers everything, from religious to political issues. The plans of the IM are not clear in the Patna bomb blast case. Probably, the IM wanted to hit the ‘Hunkar’ rally itself, in case of which the death toll would have been huge, as the unsuspecting demonstrators would have marched right into a series of exploding bombs. But, the detonation of the bombs took place long before the rally started, with Narendra Modi nowhere in the vicinity of the Gandhi Maidan. It also fails to explain the bombs planted in the cinema hall, the residential complex and platform number 10 of the Patna Railway Station. It may also be that the IM wanted to send a message of warning to Narendra Modi regarding his extreme anti-Muslim sentiments. It is extremely unfortunate that this terrorist activity of the IM claimed the life of six innocent victims, leaving 83 others injured. But the irony is that the roar of the explosions has effectively drowned the ‘Hunkar’ (roar) planned by Narendra Modi.
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