On the Delhi High Court blast

Six thoughts

The blast outside Delhi High Court at 10:16 AM today has claimed 11 lives and left 76 injured. An earlier attempt in May to explode a bomb there had failed as the detonator had caught fire, thereby leaving the high explosive intact.

One, it is an intelligence failure. Every single bomb blast, every single terror strike is an intelligence failure. Lack of intelligence means that either we are searching at the wrong places, or we are not reading the clues properly. There can be no excuses for this lack of intelligence after we have failed to progress on four recent incidents: Jama Masjid shooting, Pune Bakery blast, Varanasi blast and Mumbai blasts. But an acknowledgement of failure is not sufficient. The MHA needs to review the processes in place, perhaps even get in a few external consultants for Red-Gaming sessions, and start thinking afresh on its process of intelligence collection, collation and analysis.

Most people look at intelligence as finding out the perpetrators of the blasts and their cause. That is important but it is not as important as intercepting these terrorist modules and sleeper cells before the blast. The best way to prevent a blast is to neutralise the terrorist before he has built the bomb, not after he has placed it. CCTVs and Quick Reaction Emergency Teams are important but they don’t prevent a blast. At best, they minimise its impact and help in post-blast investigations. Let us not confuse the two measures.

Two, it is a failure of the local police. Even though a similar blast had been averted in May by good fortune, the fact that they allowed another blast to occur at the same place, in the same manner, within a few months is inexcusable. There was no element of surprise in this, except if the local police was callous enough to assume that lightning wouldn’t strike the same place twice. The capability of the local police, and their capacity to handle twenty-first century threats in a megalopolis like Delhi doesn’t exist. It has been so for many years now, and despite much lip-service to police reforms in Delhi by the Union Home Minister, nothing much has been achieved.

Three, the claim by Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (if it is actually from HuJI) is of little value. In all likelihood, it is a Red Herring. The email making that claim should be enquired into thoroughly but that claim should not cloud our perceptions about who planted this bomb. As with other blasts in the last couple of years, no one has claimed the blasts and we still don’t know why the blast was conducted. Terror is politics by violent means, and if we even don’t know what the politics behind this bout of mindless terror is, how can the government address their political grievances.

If the blast was about the Afzal hanging case, then the answer is not hanging Afzal today evening itself at the site of the bomb blast. Let our anger not cloud our good sense of judgement. The failure of Indian criminal justice system to deliver quick justice is not a cause of the blast. It is merely an excuse being used by our enemies, which some of us are easily buying into.

Four, the post-blast investigation report telling us that it had traces of PETN means nothing to the average Indian. It is an attempt by the Home Ministry to depict that it is doing something after the blast. Let us not confuse activity for action. Every blast that uses High Explosives will have a detonator, and that detonator will contain PETN. Show me a blast which uses RDX or ANFO or any other High Explosive, and I will show you traces of PETN there. PETN can also be used as a booster to trigger the bomb. With the proliferation of jehadi manuals on the internet, there are no signature styles of bomb-making left any more. Let the MHA not pass facts which are true but of little value, just to feed morsels to the hungry media. It should instead focus its energies on the real issues plaguing the system.

Five, the role of the media. In the vacuum of factual information — which will always happen after a blast — speculations, biased opinions and outrage move in rather quickly. It serves little purpose, and perhaps that is the way it is meant to be — fill some space and time with meaningless chatter, which must sound profound, revelatory and important nevertheless. The experts and analysts on the TV shows need to take a step back, review their own videos and they would then develop the courage to say, “It is too early to say anything. I don’t know.” This country deserves at least that much honesty from the media and the experts. They may not realise it now but it is a slippery slope that they are on.

Six, people are angry. They have a right to be angry. They believe that the Indian state is failing in its duty to protect their lives. Indians are in no mood to go back to the ugly days of regular terror strikes on the Indian mainland witnessed during the 15 years preceding 2008. The credibility of the Indian government has hit such a low that people now take offence when the government “condemns” a blast or asks people to display “resilience”. The onus is upon the government to redeem itself. It is a challenge which must be overcome with political imagination. Agreeing to the opposition’s suggestion to suspend the Lok Sabha for the day was a rather daft decision in these times of middle-class cynicism about politics and parliament. The political class in general, and the government in particular, is not sending the right message with its actions. The trust and confidence of the average Indian in the Indian state can not be allowed to wither away. It has long-term consequences.

Finally, there are no fool-proof methods or magical solutions to prevent terror strikes. Terrorists have to succeed only once whereas the security forces have to succeed always and every time. But that dictum cannot be used as an excuse to cover-up the kind of failure witnessed today. It is another wake-up call for the government of the day. Reform or perish.

Update: A version of this blogpost appears at Outlook Web.

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45 Responses to On the Delhi High Court blast

  1. Katherine Hay, India (@KeHay) September 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    @pragmatic_d with a useful pause and 6 thoughts on the Delhi High Court blast http://t.co/YDGGHNw

  2. On the Delhi High Court blast: Six thoughts
    The blast outside Delhi High Court at 10:16 AM today has claimed 11 … http://t.co/STw762k

  3. Kiran Biradar (@KBiradar) September 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Hard facts for everyone. “@pragmatic_d: At the blog, my six thoughts on the Delhi High Court bomb blast today. http://t.co/UDnyQpu”

  4. Sushobhan (@sushobhan) (@sushobhan) September 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Pl read and RT for a clear picture of where we r. “@pragmatic_d: Reposting link to blogpost on the Delhi terror blast: http://t.co/L5Djzoj”

  5. Sonia Faleiro (@soniafaleiro) September 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    A superb piece on the #Delhiblast by @pragmatic_d. Via @sachinkalbag. http://t.co/pUVAxOw

  6. Rohan Joshi (@filter_c) September 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Here is @pragmatic_d on the Delhi High Court blast. Read. http://t.co/ZTvXZv3

  7. @guptaaks007 September 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    #delhiblast http://t.co/dOfbdSK

  8. @Vidyut September 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Our @pragmatic_d wrote this http://t.co/HVJvj0Z direct common sense.

  9. @aanteladda September 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Excellent post on today’s terrible bomb blasts in Delhi by @pragmatic_d http://t.co/Sz2vLa8

  10. @anandspine September 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    A superb piece on the #Delhiblast by @pragmatic_d. Via @sachinkalbag. http://t.co/F7EfvAe

  11. Masala Canada (@MasalaCanada) (@MasalaCanada) September 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Six thoughts on the Delhi High Court bomb blast today. http://t.co/PMU1pyL via @pragmatic_d

  12. @616476fbde873af September 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    @AtulChitnis “@soniafaleiro: A superb piece on the #Delhiblast by @pragmatic_d. Via @sachinkalbag. http://t.co/ekXORP6”

  13. @gagupta September 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Straight forward points. On the Delhi High Court blast http://t.co/0hWiQNb

  14. @aniketawati September 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    a post to read http://t.co/SMXQiEy

  15. @amit0 September 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    On delhi high court blast http://j.mp/nqu4P8 #fb

  16. @SDV001 September 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    An excellent piece by @pragmatic_d : On the Delhi High Court blast http://t.co/eguK6AI

  17. Aastha Aggarwal (@aastha164) (@aastha164) September 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Terror is politics by violent means, and we even don’t know what the politics behind this bout of mindless terror is || http://t.co/0NAGMc2

  18. Krupakar Manukonda (@Krupakar_m) (@Krupakar_m) September 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    On the Delhi High Court blast http://t.co/BpfVpl9 || very informative post by @pragmatic_d

  19. Read about what the correct response of media and MHA should be, as opposed to their usual behaviour http://t.co/ESAYxA8 by @pragmatic_d

  20. @signonpk September 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Pragmatic Euphony » On the Delhi High Court blast http://t.co/pn3e2nE

  21. @sameerkanse September 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    A very balanced view on the blasts — http://t.co/HrOlfNf via @zite

  22. @calamur September 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    must read @pragmatic_d On the Delhi High Court blast – http://t.co/Z9F17cY – and he seems angry …..

  23. @prasannavishy September 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    Regurgitate MHA’S handouts/Propaganda and pass it off as strategic punditry.Shameless.http://t.co/FSU3D2p

  24. Shashank Joshi (@shashj) (@shashj) September 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Typically concise: “@filter_c: Here is @pragmatic_d on the Delhi High Court blast. Read. http://t.co/E4r21kX”

  25. @WordOfTheFree September 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Future in NAC? RT @prasannavishy Regurgitate MHA’S handouts/Propaganda and pass it off as strategic punditry.Shameless.http://t.co/9us435h

  26. Kals (@kalsnats) (@kalsnats) (@kalsnats) September 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Six important points by @pragmatic_d on the Delhi HC blast http://t.co/VJul8FV

  27. Varad Varenya (@VaradVarenya) (@VaradVarenya) September 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Do read: Six Thoughts On the Delhi High Court blast – http://t.co/Cg0NWm0 – by @pragmatic_d

  28. Aravindan Ingersol (@iaravindan) (@iaravindan) September 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    On the Delhi High Court blast… | http://t.co/8qUbh4t

  29. Aditya Desai (@adidesai) (@adidesai) September 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    Six thoughts on the Delhi High Court bomb blast http://t.co/83WuQgj (via @pragmatic_d)

  30. Ahmed September 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    There is a striking observation… Every time when the Parliament session is in progress, or is just about to commence… an event of enough to make headlines happen.

    If you doubt my observation… please check it up. Or else keep a track of dates of next session and watch for the events.

    The act is deplorable. May sense come in… soon.

  31. Deepak September 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Point 7. This is a war where a nation has demonstrated its vengeful actions over an over again in past. As we know the traditional war has shifted to more sophisticated means (read as causing terror and economic casualties to enemy nation) from overt methods i.e. using army men and weapons. The objective is clear and simple if same results like terrorising a nation and making it economically suffer can be acheived through politics and blasts then its foolish to send your army and appear a war monger to the world.
    E.g. after mumbai blasts MAHA spent 1000 cr to beef up security while politics ensured culprits are never caught.
    Similar scenario is going to be repeated in delhi. See the TV for next few days if you dont believe.

    Solution : Such cases should be handled by Army and NOT by police by any means. And army alone should be try and punish these culprits, Isn’t that the role of Army .. to protect nation from predators ?

  32. Mohammed Vilayath Ali Haqqani September 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    Along with your valuable suggestions there is an urgent need to strengthen security at crowded places like railways and bus stations,big shopping malls,Cinemas to screen baggages thoroughly.One can easily walk into these places with a bag without being screened at all.Why cannot we invest in these areas to minimize loss of lives.Its high time CCTVS are installed in public places. After every incident,we forget to take actions and wait till the next to happen. Must learn from US’s post 9/11 measures.

  33. chandra September 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    thank you for enlightening us! What is govt going to give you as quid-pro-quo for towing their line

  34. trickey September 7, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Nothing is going to change unless you fix the problem at the source. India has allowed all the time and space to Pakistan to create terror cells in India. It’s ridiculous to grant benefit of doubt to a habitual offender. There cannot be peace for our enemies while they keep attacking us, whether directly or via their proxies.

  35. vakaravi (@vakaravi) September 8, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    +1 RT @surekhapillai RT @pragmatic_d: Six thoughts on yesterday’s Delhi High Court blast: http://t.co/XMzUCD8

  36. Fulltosss (@FullTosss) September 8, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    “@pragmatic_d: Blogpost Replug. Six thoughts on yesterday’s Delhi High Court blast: http://t.co/BWpTgoe” so objective ..nice

  37. AshokAbrahamCherian (@ashock) (@ashock) September 8, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    Get over your #DelhiBlast outrage, here’s a super post by @pragmatic_d on what went wrong and what can be done. Read. http://t.co/nhgK0mc

  38. @jsstn September 8, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    Six thoughts on Delhi Blasts:
    http://t.co/oMUbCkh

  39. MN September 8, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    Two items.
    .
    A) Does anyone have the e-mail that’s purportedly sent from HuJI to media? Would like to know if they invoked any verses from Geetha or Guru Granth Saheb (or, you know the big-elephant I’m missing in this list)? Those verses (of Geetha, Vedas & Upanishads, of course) that the I-M mentioned on one of their e-mails, when researched, provide a clear insight into the root-causes of their actions.
    .
    B) Offense is the best defense. No country, not even the USA can prevent each & every terror attack. Even if India puts in 250 million of it’s working-class into HUM-INT of R-A-W, not every sleeper-cell can be tracked. The smartest thing to do is what USA did after 9-11; go after those barbarians & their infrastructure. Take the attack to them; if they’re residing in the Sun-Temple at Konark or Pashupathinath Mandir at Nepal or Meenakshi-Amman temple at Madurai, then go there, nab the suspects & destroy the infrastructure. If they’re not SAFFRON TERROR groups, then look at the non-religious shrines of terror (which, for obvious reasons, I will not mention).
    .
    And for Pete’s sake, file a P-I-L against Shri Palaniappan Chidambaram for dereliction of duty & expedite the processing of any pending cases against that person. No single man (yes, not even Dr Subramanian Swamy) can do all the things himself; people need to put in their time & efforts to create a better society. And taking judicial action against Shri P. Chidambaram will be a first step towards that end.
    .
    What would this site’s comment-ers & author/s opinion on these thoughts be? I wonder.
    .
    MN
    .
    PS: I felt that Ram Lila Grounds or any of the other areas, localities that were thriving with humans during Shri Anna Hazare’s fiasco were very vulnerable. I think I need to thank Allah Subhanawataala & Rasool il Allah SAWS that no SAFFRON TERROR outfit shouting “Jai Shri Ram” killed human beings in those weeks & months. [Check my site before stereo-typing me as an anti-Hindu or an anti-Muslim or anything]

  40. trickey September 8, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    I am tired of hearing that it is a “policing failure”. Clearly if the HC was secured properly, some other vulnerable target would have been hit? I also do not believe it is an intelligence failure. Pakistan has had all the time in the world to establish autonomous terror modules within India. They probably do not communicate much. They probably have enough money(hawala channels which our political class loves so much) and more than sufficient material for hundreds of bombs before requiring fresh supplies. In other words, watching over the usual communication and supply channels is not going to reveal much anymore.

    This attack is the result of an outright political failure. It is the failure of the policy of pursuing peace with an enemy who has for the last 65 years spat on every extended hand of friendship. This government is forced to pursue peace with Pakistan, since it is utterly distracted by it’s self-inflicted problems and political machinations.

  41. Amit Bhalerao September 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Very happy to read your post! Felt like someone is reading my mind .. I agree with you that media and general public discourse is about nabbing people and punishing them while the real action has to be in nipping the source in the bud and no matter how much the government may claim that it wasn’t an intel failure, its more than obvious that IT IS an intel failure brought on by incompetent people (Though, I must say here that their incompetence is not brought on solely by their weekness but by inadequate training and corruption involved in spending money on the nation’s security). I was surprised that a lot of attention was being showered on how in 15 minutes police came and how the NSG was deployed .. but its really funny what NSG deployment with all their weaponery will achieve post-facto! Also, if nabbing the perpetrators is the sole and important aim, even that’s not being adhered to as we saw when our HM decided to visit the site, the police allowed the clues/evidence wash itself in rain (at least this is whats being reported and its veracity needs to be checked) just to be able to salute the HM and look for his ‘security’.

    There has to be thought and some real action to gather intelligence and start hurting these people at their sources .. as they say in cricket, sometimes attack is the best form of defence .. only in this case, the attack will have to be covert and by intelligence agencies rather than overt security forces like the police or the army. But, alas, we know that it won’t ever happen with this octogenarian political class (who might themselves be the perpetrators as they are quite capable of it … a possibility no one is even thinking about right now!)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Six lessons from the Delhi High Court blast « Asian Window - September 7, 2011

    [...] One, it is an intelligence failure. Every single bomb blast, every single terror strike is an intelligence failure. Lack of intelligence means that either we are searching at the wrong places, or we are not reading the clues properly. There can be no excuses for this lack of intelligence after we have failed to progress on four recent incidents: Jama Masjid shooting, Pune Bakery blast, Varanasi blast and Mumbai blasts. But an acknowledgement of failure is not sufficient. The MHA needs to review the processes in place, perhaps even get in a few external consultants for Red-Gaming sessions, and start thinking afresh on its process of intelligence collection, collation and analysis. more [...]

  2. HC Blast « forthenation - September 8, 2011

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