Serial Blasts Rock Indian Cities
A series of three blasts have rocked the Indian cities of Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi. According to Rediff.com, these were low-intensity blasts, and took place within five minutes of each other, which indicates fairly precise planning. While Rediff estimates the initial death toll to be five people, CNN-IBN reports that at least 12 people have died, and several are injured.
NDTV has quoted the minister of state for home, Sriprakash Jaiswal, as saying:
One thing is clear that this is a conspiracy. Not sure which organization. (The) motive is to disturb communal harmony. I appeal to people to remain united.
These blasts come a few days after three militants belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM), a terrorist organization based in Pakistan, reportedly confessed to a plot to kidnap Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader widely expected to lead the party one day. They had planned to hold Gandhi hostage and demand the release of 42 militants in exchange. There is no indication, of course, that the JEM has anything to do with these blasts, but these events demonstrate the continued danger India faces from terrorism.
Update: In most cases, the day of an attack is too early to determine who's carried it out -- but there's hunger for news, and media outlets get at it nevertheless.
Banned Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islamia (HuJI) is believed to be behind the serial blasts that rocked the Uttar Pradesh on Friday killing over a dozen people besides injuring several others.
Sources in the security agencies said the terror strike could be seen as a revenge by the banned outfit for the assault on its members including the recent incident when lawyers manhandled three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants arrested in Lucknow last week.
They said Jaish could have sought the help of HuJI as both the outfits followed the Deoband sect of Islam.
Meanwhile, according to CNN-IBN:
Intelligence sources said little known outfit Indian Mujahideen have taken responsibility of the blast.
Apparently someone emailed a police officer, so that's how they know. Rediff carries a report in which terrorism expert B Raman is quoted as saying:
I believe these blasts have the stamp of jihadi terrorism. Like the 1993 blasts in Mumbai it has been carried out on Friday immediately after prayers.
Politicians are already busy trying to score brownie points. LK Advani of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been on TV blaming Mayawati, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), for intelligence failures. The Left parties have followed suit. Mayawati, in turn, has countered by saying that central intelligence agencies weren't sharing information with state intelligence agencies, thus shifting the onus onto the central government, which hasn't blamed anyone yet.
Shivraj Patil, the union home minister, has announced a high alert in other parts of UP, and the Delhi and Maharashtra governments have followed suit. The US has condemned the attacks, stating that such acts "strengthen the resolve of all well-intentioned people, including India's friends in the international community, to defeat terrorism and build peace based on rule of law."
Mumbai-based Amit Varma blogs at India Uncut