Human Rights

Why should we believe in intelligence reports?

Any kind of terrorism is condemnable. If we fail to condemn it we are guilty and should not talk about it. Carrying out heinous crimes, by any group or any organization, like suicidal attacks, bomb blasts, firing on innocent people or killing security forces or murdering innocents in what is known now as “fake encounters” etc, should not be supported at any cost. Whosoever encourages or espouses terrorism in any form is not only part of anti-national forces but is guilty of an unpardonable crime.

There is no denying the fact that we are under sharp threat of terrorism for last several years. We witnessed Mecca Masjid blasts, Mumbai blasts, Delhi blast, UP blasts, and Ansal Plaza, Batla House and Ranbir fake encounters, etc. These are only some instances of terrorism in India. We must strive to stop them all.

Post-Mumbai attacks, the constant threat of terrorist attacks have given free hand to our intelligence agencies, police and other security forces in dealing with this growing menace by any means. No one is daring to question “intelligence” reports regarding terror attacks. The very news of these terror attacks fills our minds with the larger picture of terrorism. And we feel panic, uncertain and unprotected wherever we move. During the last few months our intelligence and police have been warning us of fresh possible terrorist attacks across the country. Newspapers regularly carry such reports  without questioning the credibility of these reports. Without investigating and analyzing such repots, media starts to overplay them and gives them major space on newspaper pages or television screens which is not a proper way to run the news when it is sensitive, especially about “terrorism.”

The Mumbai terrorist attacks shook the entire country on 26 November 2008, killing 173 people, and injuring 308 including some top ranking Mumbai police officers like Hemant Karkare who had unveiled many conspiracies hatched by Hindu terrorists in bomb blast cases in the country.

After 26/11 terrorist attacks our intelligence agencies have been warning us of fresh terrorist attacks across the country which they claimed could happen at any time. Even our political stalwarts are expressing serious apprehensions regarding such attacks. It is a pity that not a single warning was given prior to the Mumbai attacks neither by political leaders nor any agency.

A complete year has passed since 26/11 attacks with no single terrorist attack taking place despite routine warnings about impending terrorist attacks. It has become a routine now to announce impending terrorist attacks, thanks to our “intelligence” agencies.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on 17 October 2009 while addressing chief ministers’ meeting at Delhi regarding internal security that his government had received information on “an ongoing ploy of terrorist groups in Pakistan,” which may strike India again. He also stressed that cross border terrorism is still a threat. PM also mentioned Mumbai attacks and said that we needed to take utmost vigilance. He even said that “we have credible information.” No terror attack has been witnessed despite strong warnings even by the prime minister. Three months have passed since the PM’s announcement. Who provided this information to our prime minister? The answer is obvious: none but intelligence people.

On 28 October 2009, intelligence agencies warned of fresh Rajdhani-type attacks. The report quoting intelligence inputs said that Maoists or groups backed by them may strike again with attacks such as the one on the Bhubaneswar-Delhi Rajdhani Express on 27 October 2009. The “alert” came after a high-level meeting was held in Delhi on 28 October 2009 to discuss the fallout of the Rajdhani Express blockade in West Bengal and the growing problem of Naxalism. This meeting was attended by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and home secretary. However, terrorists did not strike as per warning by intelligence agencies.

This time, ahead of the 26/11 first anniversary, the army chief Deepak Kapoor, on 3 November 2009, warned of possible fresh terror attack of Mumbai terror-type by Lashkar-e-Toiba, and said that India has to take all steps to counter any such strikes. Despite the army chief’s warning, Mumbai’s first anniversary was marked peacefully across the country and no major or even minor terrorist attack took place. What prompted our army chief to make such an announcement?

Home Minister P Chidambaram, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha on 2 December 2009, said that the danger of more terrorist attacks is very much there. This time the home minister also said that these terrorist outfits have direct links with Al-Qaida. Despite Chidambaram’s warnings, no terrorist made inroads into any city or place.

West Bengal chief minister, Budhadeeb Bhattacharya, without quoting any intelligence input said that Kolkata was a terror target. He even said that terrorists were present in the city. The CM made this statement on 11 December 2009 at a police function in Kolkata. A pertinent question here is that if the CM knew about the presence of terrorists in the city what action his police and intelligence agencies took? He should, without wasting anytime, pass on all these details to his agencies.

Press Trust of India reported quoting Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Union home ministry officials that trained Fidayeen (suicidal) terrorists have sneaked into the country. The report appeared on 15 December 2009 in many Urdu and English newspapers. The report said that the terrorists who have sneaked into the country are trained by Taliban and are extremely dangerous. After these warnings, a high alert was sounded in the three cities, viz., Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. However, Mumbai police sought to underplay the issue. Police commissioner, D. Sivanandhan, said no alert about “Taliban-trained Fidayeen sneaking into the city” had been received. “It is a wrong information. There is a perpetual threat to places like BSE, BARC, and Siddhivinayak temple. We are always on alert,” he said. The news report quoting intelligence inputs said that many places could be targeted in Maharashtra. Surprisingly, the report also quoted a Union home ministry official that helpers of these terrorists have carried out recce of Mumbai city some days ago. It is shocking to know how helpers of terrorists traveled to Mumbai and who is to be blamed for this grave intelligence lapse and why intelligence agencies failed to nab them?

Another report published in The Times of India (Delhi edition, 18 December 2009) quoted police sources saying that four days after a terror alert across the country, senior officials on 16 December 2008 instructed all 90 police stations in the city to look for three “Afghan” nationals who might be in Mumbai for a terror strike.

Newspapers once again on 24 December 2009 came out with bold headlines telling us that new terror attacks ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations might take place. The news reports quoting intelligence inputs warned of a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) strike in four major cities. The report said that the warning came a week ago which said that LeT terrorists were planning to strike in the four major cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai and that they will be targeting public places. However, no terror attack took place anywhere.

This time, it is again the Home Ministry and intelligence sources sounding a terror attack in Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi said that a Taliban-trained suicide squad had entered into the country to carry out attacks. It is surprising that just two days before, intelligence agencies had warned us of fresh terrorist attacks at many places and “Pushtoon-looking” suicide bombers trained by Taliban, were said to have entered India to launch these attacks. But nothing came out of it. A fresh alert was sounded by the intelligence people on 26 December 2008.

The Mumbai police commissioner’s downplaying of intelligence report is a proof of intelligence’s wrong and weak inputs which Mumbai police was not ready to swallow. Is it part of a plan to keep people on tenterhooks by issuing warnings from time to time about an impending terror attack. Why should we always believe in intelligence reports?

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2010 on page no. 11

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