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Aug 03, 2012 at 08:48am IST

Pune serial blasts: Is Maharashtra a soft target for terrorists?

Mumbai: All the three cycles, upon which the bombs were placed in Wednesday's Pune serial blasts, were bought on the same day, according to sources. The police have identified the trader who sold the cycles, and have also questioned nine major cycle-sellers and distributors.

The investigators are looking closely at a possible Indian Mujahideen role. On Thursday, the investigators also found that two CCTV cameras at the blast sites were non-functional. Despite being of low-intensity, the blasts have worried security officials as it proves once again that Maharashtra is still a soft target for terrorists.

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The non-functional closed circuit camera at Dena Bank on Pune's Jangali maharaj road, one of the targets of Wednesday's bombings, is symptomatic of Maharashtra's continuing vulnerability and inefficiency. The details of the October 2011 RTI findings confirm that the Pune police had asked for 837 CCTVs, only 79 were installed. Terrorists have hit Pune twice since, killing 27, maiming more than 100.

Despite Maharashtra being one of India's most terror hit states, their record in cracking and convicting those they charge, is abysmal.

The the anti-terrorism squad took over six months to solve the 13/7 triple bombings. While a chargesheet has been filed, the three main conspirators, mastermind Yasin Bhatkal and two bomb planters remain at large.

The probe into the Pune German Bakery blast was mired in controversy with the MHA and the ATS speaking in different voices. The ATS claimed to have cracked the case, arresting Mirza Humaiyat Baig and dubbed him the mastermind. There was a subsequent swoop down on the Indian Mujahideen operatives by the Delhi Police special cell.

The Malegaon blasts of 2006 brought much embarrassment to the Mumbai police force. The ATS first arrested nine Muslim men from Malegaon, the CBI that took over the case too agreed with the ATS investigation. But the confession by Swami Aseemananda led to the MCOCA court directing the CBI to re-investigate the case. The nine accused were subsequently granted bail.

The worst terror strike in the Indian history, the 26/11 strike, saw the high profile conviction of Ajmal Kasab, but the police failed to prove their case against two Indians accused for providing logistical support, Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed.

Officers who have served in senior positions in Mumbai and Maharashtra police accept that the politicisation of the force is the key reason impacting efficiency. With Mumbai Police's abysmal 8 per cent conviction rate in heinous offences being the harshest indicator of this, even Mumbai and the rest of the state continues to be vulnerable with a compromised security apparatus.