Recent blasts in UP have revealed dark holes in the state's intelligence network
Pradeep Kapoor Lucknow
With Uttar Pradesh being hit by terrorist attacks, major political parties are gearing up to make terrorism the main issue to capture votes in the next Lok Sabha polls. On January 1, terrorists struck at a CRPF camp in Rampur during the wee hours d killed eight persons, including seven jawans. The attack came while the state had not yet recovered from the serial blasts in the courts of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad in November, when over a dozen persons were killed and over 50 injured.
Two militants allegedly belonging to the ISI-backed Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islami (HuJI) were killed in December 2007. Evidently, they had planned to assassinate Chief Minister Mayawati, as they were carrying a map of her residence. Earlier, when the UP police arrested two hardcore Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants in December 2007, it was found during their interrogation that they had planned to abduct Rahul Gandhi during his Lucknow visit.
Rattled by the news that she was on the hit list, Mayawati demanded that the SPG Act should be amended to provide her cover. She has made it clear that if anything happens to her, the central government will be held responsible and Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other oppressed classes will not pardon the UPA government. The Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh of UP has written a letter to the Centre seeking SPG cover for Mayawati.
Security agencies in the Centre and in the state believe that UP has become a hotbed of militant activities. As per official sources in New Delhi, majority of the 39 espionage modules busted in India were in UP. Ten such modules were neutralised in Lucknow, Agra, Rampur, Meerut and Saharanpur. Several persons, including Pakistani nationals, were arrested.
According to senior officials, lack of coordination between the state and central intelligence agencies has helped in the expansion of terror modules in UP. Mayawati admitted that there was intelligence failure during the serial blasts in November.
As for the January 1 incident, there were unconfirmed reports that a terrorist organisation may strike during a recruitment camp in Rampur. The possibility of a strike in Rampur was discussed at a CRPF meeting in New Delhi one month before the attack. While intelligence inputs were given to the central and state governments that the Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) could strike, no steps were taken. Mayawati claims her government had given information to the CRPF, but no measures were taken by the Centre. After the November blasts, Mayawati had blamed New Delhi for not passing on intelligence inputs on the movement of terrorists.
Informed sources in the Intelligence Bureau claimed that it had sent an advisory note to Lucknow on possible terrorist threats in Allahabad, Faizabad, Sultanpur and Lucknow. UP's Principal Secretary (Home) JN Chamber has said that he was not aware of any advisory note and stood by the state government's statement that it was an intelligence failure.
Chamber explained that terrorists held in Lucknow had a scuffle with lawyers when they were produced in the court. Earlier, lawyers refused to fight the cases of the accused involved in the bomb explosion at the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi on March 7, 2006. In the Ram Janmabhoomi attack case (July 5, 2005), lawyers refused to plead for the accused. That is, the court blasts were targeting lawyers.
The failure of the state intelligence and police network has been exposed in a recent official answer to a written question in the UP assembly by the BJP MLA Shyam Deo Roy Choudhury. Has the government arrested the individuals responsible for the serial blasts in Gorakhpur in May 2007? He enquired about the presence of Pakistan's ISI and its funded terrorist organisations in a number of districts, and the state government's plans to deal with them.
The written reply given on behalf of the chief minister stated that the Gorakhpur culprits have not been arrested. It said that there were 34 districts in UP in which the ISI and its funded terrorists may be operating. It said that 39 special cells have been created in the districts with police and intelligence networks to check on the movement of terrorists. The government has directed that senior officers must meet every two to six months to discuss the issue. Surely, had the government acted on its action plan and activated its intelligence network, it could have avoided such incidents or minimised the damage.
The intelligence department has no infrastructure to collect feedback. Intelligence officers are not given any extra allowances and have no money to spend on contacts who could provide crucial leads. The lower staff reportedly makes money by giving out certificates for passports and reports for arms licences. Top politicians allegedly use the intelligence department to get information that suits their own ends.
Talking to Hardnews, Brijlal, Additional Director General of Police said special efforts have been made to control terrorist activities. He claimed that all such cases have been solved and several 'terrorists' have been arrested. Only the Rampur case remains to be solved. The ATF will soon have modern equipment and technical know-how.
Surely, in a state where the criminal-gangster-politician nexus is openly flaunted by all parties, the terror angle has provided a grotesque new twist. If they can attack a CRPF camp and get away, what is the fate of ordinary people?