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Experts say terror needs expansive research

CNN-IBN
Sep 20, 2008 at 09:38am IST

New Delhi: Almost a week after the serial bombs ripped through the national capital, killing 24 people, the Delhi police killed two people who they say were responsible for these blasts.

They arrested a third alleged terrorist. Two others escaped and one of them is in custody after engaging the Delhi police force in a fierce gun battle.

These men are suspected terrorists of the Indian Mujahideen involved in the Delhi serial blasts and were holed up in a house in south Delhi’s Jamia Nagar.

The police swooped down on the hideout on Friday morning. A huge cache of arms was found inside the flat.

But the force lost one of its best officers in the form of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, a specialist in encounters. Special officer Sharma died of bullet injuries sustained in the encounter after leading his men from the front.

Also on Friday, September 19, police released the footage of a blast in Delhi's Greater Kailash market caught on CCTV camera.

CNN-IBN’s special show Target Delhi studied about the implications of the day’s harvests.

There was a debate whether the arrest of one suspected terrorist would lead to the cracking of the case. Former Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF) Prakash Singh spoke to CNN-IBN on the possible fallout of the significant developments by the Delhi police force.

President of the Traders Welfare Association in the Greater Kailash market of New Delhi, Rajendra Sharda and CNN-IBN's Executive Editor Vinay Tewari also took part in the discussions.

The need for thorough investigations

The Delhi police has declared that the five alleged terrorists who were engaged with the police in a fierce gun battle are a part of the Indian Mujahideen and were possibly involved in the Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad blasts.

Former DG (BSF) Prakash Singh said that it was too early in the case to categorically say that these five were involved in all the named blasts.

Singh said that he could concede the fact that the group was a part of the Indian Mujahideen. That their intentions were not honourable is clear after the cache of AK-47s, pistols and revolvers as well as a computer was recovered from their hideout.

But they may have possibly been on the mission to carry out some other operation of a similar nature.

“I am wondering if it may not be premature to connect them to the entire chain of incidents. It is said that a person has been arrested. I think that it is time to sit down patiently and interrogate him thoroughly,” said Singh.

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A day of developments

The Delhi police released the footage of the blast in the city's Greater Kailash market caught on a CCTV camera.

President of the Traders Welfare Association Rajendra Sharda spoke about how the perpetrators of the blast caught on camera looked like none working inside the market.

“We had a meeting with the local police too. Now we are planning to increase the security services. We have installed four more cameras in addition to the already existent four. We have reworked our public address system and hired more guards and watchmen from private security agencies,” said Sharda.

The Delhi police say that the CCTV camera footage is a crucial link in the investigations.

“Unfortunately the face is not clear, but they are definite suspects,” added Sharda.

Hurry and misjudgement of the situation

But the Delhi police was pushed into a tight corner on Friday morning during the gun battle with the alleged terrorists. They seemed under armed and under protected in the face of the fierce exchange of fire that took place.

“While it is very true that after a blast in any city the police does go around picking suspects who may have some information or knowledge about the incident. They perhaps thought that this was a similar kind of operation that was on. I think that perhaps that is why one of the very senior and a very experienced encounter specialists like Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma went into that house without wearing a bullet proof jacket or without carrying any sophisticated firearms. Very clearly, there was a bit of a misjudgement on that. The fact is that when you are dealing with any suspected terrorists you have to go in prepared for the worst. If it does not turn out to be the worst, then that is your good luck. But in this case it does not really look like they were really prepared for the worst,” said Executive Editor of CNN-IBN, Vinay Tewari.

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Singh said he agreed with Tewari’s views but it was difficult to say if it was really a lapse or a circumstantial requirement. It was unclear as to what information had led Sharma and his men to the place.

“If the information was fairly reliable that the group of terrorists is hiding there, then he should have gone prepared with a helmet, bullet-proof jacket and sophisticated weapons and taken a tactical position instead of placing himself in the line of fire of the terrorists. But sometimes the information is vague and one thinks this is a cover and I have got to verify this. One is not wearing a bullet-proof jacket all the time,” Singh added.

All hands on the deck

Singh warns against complacency on the part of the police and spoke about the need for full throttle investigations ahead of the Friday gun battle.

“What they have accomplished so far is good. This is a good start on part of the police. But what they have uncovered may be just the tip of an iceberg. The network is far wider and spread over. The Delhi police should continue with their investigations and should start with the persons lifted from the spot,” added Singh.

The police have to keep their information and vigilance channels open.

Citizens working closely with the police force have helped the Delhi police avert a few blasts in Delhi. An example of that would be that of the Greater Kailash Market community policing plans.

“We are ready. We are not scared of terrorism,” added Sharda.

Leads about the alleged terrorists

There are different versions about how the police got information on the hideout in Batla House in Jamia Nagar. One version says that Abu Bashir caught in connection with the Ahmedabad blasts gave leads and then the Delhi police swooped down on the particular hideout.

But, Vinay Tewari said, it is too early to say how the police had reached this point. It was possible that they had their own parallel investigations that led them to the Friday encounter. Or maybe, the Ahmedabad investigations gave clues that helped.

“The fact remains that as long as the police have really got the right people, it should not really matter where the information came from. It does indeed look a little too coincidental that Abu Bashir was brought to Delhi only twenty-four hours before this incident took place. But it is really too early to say anything with firm conviction about where the police got the information and how they were led to this place in Jamia Nagar,” Tewari said.

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The road ahead

Tauqeer alias Abdul Subhaan Quereshi is the oft-repeated name in the recent blasts investigations. Police sources from the state police of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi have been calling Tauqeer as the main suspect.

He is touted as the mastermind behind many serial blasts in the country, but experts wonder if Tauqeer is really the one who is the real orchestrator for all these operations.

“He must be involved in the whole conspiracy but I wonder if he is the real brain or master mind in the operations…we must keep our minds open and proceed to investigate who really is the mastermind in these acts of terror,” warned Singh.

Singh said that assuming prematurely that we have found the real perpetrator would bring complacency to the Delhi police and would also shut avenues for further investigations.

The gun battle at Jamia Nagar is only the beginning to cover more ground, feel the experts.

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