There aren't too many leads in Bangalore blast: Deepa Balakrishnan

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Apr 18, 2013 at 07:01pm IST

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CNN-IBN's Bangalore Bureau Chief Deepa Balakrishnan joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the Bangalore blast probe.

Q. How safe is it for people to go and exercise their franchise on May 5th? Asked by: julietthomas1969

There aren't too many leads in Bangalore blast: Deepa Balakrishnan

CNN-IBN's Bangalore Bureau Chief Deepa Balakrishnan joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the Bangalore blast probe.

A. Yes people are bound to be scared since this blast happened very close to a polling booth too - a school that's a polling booth is nearby.. but I'd say, some lessons are learnt with this. Thankfully this time we have had a very strict election commission defining rules. And they will be extra careful, tightening security even further now. So Please go ahead. Vote. If we are too scared to vote, we are letting terrorists win in what their main aim is -- to terrorise.

Q. Was the owner of the motorcycle traces? Where was the motorcycle registered if police claim that the registration number plate was fake? Asked by: julietthomas1969

A. The registration number plate is something that is painted on by all of us. You can get this painted a any number of shops anywhere. There are so many instances of companies that run private buses - like National Travels for instance - where two buses run with the same number plate. This is done to avoid taxes, evade law in other ways. So the police / transport officials can't be blamed for registering the motor-cycle. To the police's credit, they have been able to trace the original owner of the bike, who has sold it to someone else. That second person seems to have furnished fake documents while buying it also, so it is made all the more tougher in tracking him. But to have got this far within 8 hours after the blast is commendable. They have traced it to someone in Kanchipuram near Chennai. Now to back-track the real culprit from there is filled with red herrings, and cracking that will be a slow process. But it is not impossible. Let's wait. and hope.

Q. Does this event affect the confidence of Tech industry in the City as a place to go and grow? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. The confidence of the any industry would be hurt by such events. But I think over the last ten years, almost all of us have realised that such attacks can happen anywhere and anytime. In any city, tech-hub or otherwise. Then again, Bangalore -- at least from the industry's perspective -- has learnt a lot of lessons. If you go to any major campus like the ITPL or electronic city -- many of these places have employed retired army officers to manage their security. We crib about having to go through photo-id checks, getting our cars checked by metal detectors, but we have all got used to it. And god forbid, if such attacks are planned there, I'm pretty sure the attacker won't succeed.

Q. Any leads in the blast till now or any group have claimed the attack. Asked by: Sudhakar

A. No group has claimed responsibility to the attack. The police have very few leads, they have now announced a reward of 5 lakh rupees to anyone who can give credible information. This attack has stumped them for two reasons -- they have drawn a blank with CCTV footage as the two CCTVs in the region were faced in the wrong direction, secondly, the water sprayed by fire engines seems to have washed away some possible evidence. The other problem is, this attack doesn't seem to have fallen into earlier patterns -- it was near the BJP office, but it was too far away to have affected the office; it was a lone bike, using the usual ammonium nitrate chemicals; there aren't too many leads. The major lead is in identifying the bike -- they have made some headway in tracing it back, know the original owner and have traced a second buyer of that bike to Kanchipuram near Chennai. The next two days will hopefully give them more progress.

Q. Govt always talk about probe but why it cannot prevent this terror activity in advance? Asked by: mohan

A. Prevention can only be done with a great network of intelligence. In home-grown terror outfits, it's difficult to keep track of every activity. But we have seen some important cases in Delhi where police have claimed they could prevent attacks. Terrorists are obviously people who are thinking in a particular fanatic way -- be it saffron or other. We weren't able to prevent attacks by saffron groups in Mangalore either, despite there being enough tip-offs about this. At the end of the day, it's impossible to keep track of every individual in a state of 6 crores. And you cannot go around arresting every suspicous-looking person either -- they are most often innocent. Actual culprits may actually look and act very normal. This is a democratic country, and as they say, eternal vigilance is the price to pay for democracy. Each one of us, if we keep alert about what happens around us, we can go a long way in preventing such misdeeds. Last month, a resident of Indiranagar called the police about a suitcase bomb in his house -- there was an unidentified suitcase, a bomb squad came to check it out. It was filled with harmless, old things. But while it may be a case of being over-cautious, that is better than being uncaring.

Q. Motorcycle, IED, Remote controls are identified. The cops should be able to track down the group behind the attack as an individual possibly could not have done this alone. What is the expectations? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Yes, it could not have been entirely planned and carried out by one person. There could be many people involved in providing logistic support. The police is right now a bit in the dark, but they are working hard on teh few clues they have. Within 8 hours, by last night, they had traced the original owner of the motorcycle on which the bomb was placed. And later they tracked its sale to other persons. They have traced this second person to Kanchipuram near Chennai. Who he was, what was his motive, was the BJP a target... all these questions will have to be answered.

Q. Has the Karnataka government borne the expenses of treatment of injured victims in the blast? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. They were all treated at a Government hospital. Yes, expenses are being borne by the Government. compensation is also being offerred -- 50,000 for the less injured, and one lakh for those with serious injuries. A number of houses along that street were also damaged. Assessment of that is on.

Q. Any such attack at election eve - Rajiv Gandhi assassination, Bomb blast at Advani meeting have resulted in sympathy to the attacked . Hence choice of the BJP office nearby by the plotters might misfire? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. That's a valid point, there may be more sympathy now for the BJP. But there's two more weeks to go for polling day, that's a long time in politics. This issue may have died down, as voters will of course remember what their priorities are when they go to vote. But the sympathy factor is certainly there, no doubt.

Q. There was a reporting of second blast at Hebbal flyover,to be retracted in minutes. Why a panic is allowed to develop in Developing Stories,which could result in really explosive situations. Why media does not cross check in this age of HI tech communication before reporting? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. You are very right, that was irresponsible reporting. Actually, it so turned out that that "blast" was the sound of crackers being burst while a leader was taking out a procession to file his nomination papers. Fortunately, barring two channels, others did not play this and waited to cross-check the news. It was simple -- the zonal DCP was taking calls, he was willing to answer questions. Since he is incharge of that division, the first priority should have been to call him up. Due diligence was not carried out. As much as the media has to be responsible in giving out quick information on such days to safeguard the interests of people, it should also take responsibility to not spread panic. CNN IBN did not put out this news, I'm glad to say. But unless all of us take ownership and act responsibly, the media as a whole should accept blame for this. We're in this together. There is pressure on everyone to perform. But not at the cost of public interest and safety.

Q. Bhatkal, IM - sources indicate as likely operatives of the incident. Why such statements when they have hardly made any progress? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Who are these sources? Kite-flying one's own theories is something we, as the media, should all be ashamed of. The police hasn't made much progress. When they do, or unless there is information from at least two credible officials, we shouldn't be speculating on this. Too much is at stake.

Q. The earlier terror attacks in Bengaluru were owned up by groups. No such claims so far. Does it reflect indigenous groups getting more active ?? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. There could be home-grown groups. But they would have some motivation/ planning/ support from other groups. However, your point is right, home-grown groups getting motivated into such activities, is worrying. We need to sensitise people from school on good and bad. The other challenge is being inclusive. If we ignore vulnerable groups in development programmes, the frustration is bound to lead to something extreme.

Q. With so much of crowding and anyone and everyone walking all along the blast site before NIA arrived, has the investigation been affected in collection of forensic evidences? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Definitely a bad idea. The first people who went to help at the blast site were residents who threw water on the vehicles. The large number of curious on-lookers who kept turning up every ten minutes -- the police actually had to use lathis to keep people away, there were crowds milling around through the day. Police weren't able to focus on their work. More importantly, people stamping around, walking around to take pictures, all this led to more problems. VIPs -- specially MLAs and MPs who didn't matter much at all -- kept going up and down. POlice couldn't help it, because after all, these VIPs are their bosses. One of the reasons the police is left with few clues is, they weren't able to control the crowd in that densely populated area. The priority should have been to sanitise the area, cordon it off, bring in the dog squad and forensic experts. The cordon was put in place later, the dog squad came nearly 3 hours after the incident. Terror attacks have a standard operating procedure, which must be adhered to at all times.

Q. Following the Hyderabad Blast Bangalore and other cities were under alert. Was the local intelligence not fully geared up in collecting info ? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. "Ïntelligence alerts" have become as routine as everything else. The joke in the police is -- ahead of any festival, there is an intelligence alert. Ahead of any IPL match -- since the last attack was during an IPL match -- there is an alert. If there is an attack in other cities, an alert is issued. In malls, railway stations, alerts are in place. So much, that it has become boring to comply with these and police let down their guard easily -- it's like the proverbial "Crying tiger" story. If alerts are issued which have led to actual arrests, seizures, etc, police will also act upon them more responsibly. But alerts have become unfortunately a way of the Centre palming off its responsibility, by issuing alerts so often that the local police stop taking it seriously.. but if there is an actual attack, the Centre can always claim, it had sounded an alert and pass the blame.

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