New Delhi: The issue of the Hyderabad blasts on Friday resonated in Parliament with the government facing the flak for "failing" to check such incidents despite having intelligence inputs about them. This even as Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde promised "more firm action" to eliminate terror from the country. While the Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that the government had a "casual approach" towards terror, the UPA's former ally the Trinamool Congress accused the Centre of being "over-confident".
Making a statement in both the Houses, Shinde admitted that intelligence inputs had suggested the possibility of terror attacks in five cities including Hyderabad and the city police chiefs were alerted in this regard five-six days ago. Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha saw an impromptu discussion on Thursday's incident and the Home Minister made a statement giving details of the attack and the action taken.
Shinde said the government will take all possible actions to bring to book the culprits of the twin blasts in which 16 people were killed and 117 injured. Contending that terror incidents had declined from 10 in 2008 to two in 2012 due to various measures, the Home Minister vowed "more firm action" in the coming months to eliminate terror. Shinde expressed confidence that the Hyderabad blast could even prove to the last such incident going by the trend of declining number of such incidents.
He emphasised the need for closer coordination between the Centre and states to deal with terror and expressed readiness to tweak the proposals related to the powers of National Counter Terrorism Centre, which has got into controversy because of opposition by some states. His statement was, however, rejected as "totally disappointing" by the Opposition, which accused the government of lacking political will to tackle terror and treating the issue in a casual manner.
"We will take strongest possible action...The government is taking firm steps. There should not be talk of any politicisation," Shinde said as the BJP alleged that the steps taken by the government with regard to terrorism were influenced by vote-bank politics. Both the Houses witnessed repeated adjournments on the issue. Responding to the charge that the government was clueless about Thursday's blasts, Shinde said there were some leads but he could not share as it would hamper investigation.
He also sought to dismiss BJP's attack on him for not visiting the place of occurrence on Thursday night itself. Shinde said VIPs should not visit the spot immediately after such incidents as it might distract the attention of the police and investigative agencies. He told the House that two cases have been registered by the police and the National Investigation Agency would investigate it in conjunction with Andhra Pradesh police.
Initiating an impromptu discussion on the issue in the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the lapse gets magnified when such incidents occur despite the government having advance intelligence. She also rued "sadly there is no unanimity in our approach" to fight terror. Swaraj said the Centre's responsibility does not end at informing state governments on a possible terror strike and it should also help prevent such incidents.
Without naming MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, she wondered whether the "inflammatory remarks" made by him have links with the blast. Leading the attack in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley cautioned against the lowering of guard while dealing with terrorism and said the intelligence network in the country should be "depoliticised".
Another BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said, "Government's policy seems to be condolence for the dead and compensation for those who survived and that Shinde's statement does not reflect a roadmap to deal with terror.
"I appeal to Home Minister please show some courage, take some strong action, you must exhibit resolve," Naidu said. He also said that being a member of the House, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have come to the Rajya Sabha and made a statement taking the issue seriously.
As soon as the Lok Sabha met, Speaker Meira Kumar made an obituary reference to the victims of the blasts saying "the House unequivocally condemns this barbaric and cowardly act of terrorism". JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said the occurrence of such incidents, in spite of the united resolve of the House, showed that the government was "lame duck" and so also the intelligence set-up. "The problem with this government is that it does not have any stature. It is lame duck."
CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and several others spoke in similar vein with Yadav asking the government to spell out where the weakness was. TDP members were seen waving copies of Telugu newspapers carrying reports of the Hyderabad blasts. Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhayay attacked the government over its "over-confidence". Making an obituary reference in the Upper House, Chairman Hamid Ansari said, "While condemning such heartless acts of terrorism, we must also reiterate our firm resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms with determination."
Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav said, "Shinde's statement is very ordinary and totally disappointing. It has no indication about what is the government's intention and how such incidents can be stopped. It only has description like what is found in police stations about what happened where." DMK's T Siva also found the Home Minister's statement "unsatisfactory" saying it simply lists the incidents.
(With additional information from PTI)