August 28, 2007

No reviving POTA, preventing attacks no easy job: Patil

CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and P. Madhu, along with TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, when the latter visited the Laserium in Lumbini Park and Gokul Chaat house, a day after the twin bomb blasts rocked Hyderabad. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf.

Hyderabad, Aug. 26 (PTI): Virtually ruling out revival of tough anti-terror laws like POTA, the Centre today said that despite having intelligence information on likely terror strikes sometimes it was not possible to pinpoint when and where it would occur.

Pointing out that it was "not an easy job" to prevent terrorist attacks, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said "The country is very big and even if we have the information that something is likely to happen, sometimes we don't know when and where this is likely to happen."

Patil made these remarks while talking to newsmen after visiting the scene of last night's twin blasts that killed 42 persons.

Patil's comments came hours after Chief Minister Y S Rajashekara Reddy rejected a suggestion that the blasts were a result of intelligence failure while asserting that the states cannot do much about this.

"Most of the times, external terrorist organisations are responsible for such ghastly acts. The state government will not have the wherewithal to go into this sort of intelligence operations," he said.

Patil refused to specify whether terror groups based in Pakistan and Bangladesh were behind the attacks saying "these things cannot be openly discussed" and it was for investigating agencies to ascertain all facts about the explosions.

Reddy earlier in the day had had blamed "international terrorist organisations" based in Pakistan and Bangladesh for the blasts.

Asked to comment on statements made by BJP leader L K Advani that terrorist attacks could have been prevented if anti-terror laws like POTA were in force, Patil said "We did what we felt was right."

Saying he would not like to enter into a discussion on the POTA issue, Patil said there was no guarantee that such incidents would not have occurred if this legislation had been in force.

Such incidents, in fact, took place even after POTA was brought in, he pointed out.

Speaking one the need for timely action on intelligence inputs to avert attacks like the twin blasts, Patil said "We had bits of information, but we didn't know when and where it would happen," he said. He was replying to questions on whether some intelligence inputs had been received about the blasts.

Patil said the investigations into the blasts would establish whether there was a failure on the part of intelligence agencies and necessary corrective measures would be taken thereafter.

The minister also said the government would not be cowed down by terrorist strikes like the Hyderabad twin blasts.

"We are sorry but we are not cowed down. We will definitely see to it that it is reduced and eliminated ultimately," said Patil.

As part of measures to prevent terror strikes, the strength of police forces is being enhanced and their arms and equipment are being modernised, Patil said. There was also a need for better coordination between states and Central security agencies, he added.

Asking people to be vigilant, Patil said "we are taking all all steps to stop this terror violence by creating an ambience. However,our country is so big there may be some negligence in controlling."

The Minister said "the government is seriously thinking over measures to overcome the terror problem and whatever laws and acts required in this direction we will implement".

AP govt. blames terror groups in Pak, Bangladesh for blasts

Earlier in the day the Andhra Pradesh government blamed terrorist groups based in Bangladesh and Pakistan for the two blasts here that claimed 42 lives and said it would revive a tough law to deal with terrorist activities.

After an emergency meeting of the state cabinet, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy told reporters that "the available information points to the involvement of international terrorist organisations in Bangladesh and Pakistan".

Reddy also blamed terror groups in the two neighbouring countries for the explosion in the Mecca Masjid here on May 18 that claimed nine lives.

Emerging from an all-party meeting that condemned yesterday's bomb attacks, state Home Minister K Jana Reddy said the government planned to revive the Andhra Pradesh Control of Organised Crimes Act, which lapsed two years ago, to deal with terrorism.

An expert committee of senior officials will be formed to "deal with ISI activities", Jana Reddy said. Though the chief minister said yesterday's near simultaneous blasts claimed 40 lives, Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh told PTI that 42 people died and 54 were injured in the attacks at Lumbani Park near the state secretariat and Gokul Chat Bhandar, a popular eatery in the busy Koti locality.

As investigators searched for clues, an expert said the explosives used in yesterday's blasts and the Mecca Masjid attack were different.

"In the Mecca Masjid blasts, it was a RDX and TNT it is entirely different (as some) ammonium nitrate-based chemical (was used)," said T Suresh, chief scientific officer of the CLUES bomb detection squad.

The chief minister rejected a suggestion that the blasts were a result of intelligence failure. "Most of the times, external terrorist organisations are responsible for such ghastly acts. The state government will not have the wherewithal to go into this sort of intelligence operations. "We cannot have intelligence networks in Bangladesh and Pakistan," he said.

Before leaving Delhi for Hyderabad, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil condemned the blasts. Patil was accompanied by a high level team led by Special Secretary (Internal Security) M Kumawat. Officials said no arrests have been made so far in connection with the blasts.

A forensic expert said the material used in the twin blasts -- Neogel-90, an ammonium nitrate-based emulsifier explosive -- was manufactured at Nagpur in Maharashtra by a company named Omni Explosives. Another bomb defused in Dilsukhnagar was fitted with explosives and metal balls, he said.

Compensation of Rs 5 lakhs will be paid to the kin of the dead and a government job will be given to families who lost their bread earners while Rs 20,000 will be paid to the injured. Among the dead were seven engineering students from Nasik in Maharashtra, two railway policemen from Madhya Pradesh, six women and three children. Thirty-eight of the dead have been identified, officials said.

The state cabinet reviewed the law and order situation in the backdrop of blasts and appreciated the "exemplary behaviour of citizens who maintained calm and stood by" the authorities in quickly restoring normalcy. In a resolution, the cabinet condemned the "cowardly act" and conveyed its condolences to the bereaved families.

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