A team of Andhra Police came to Delhi three months ago and interrogated for days the two Indian Mujahideen (IM) men, who scouted the Hyderabad area rocked by two successive blasts on Thursday, but failed to act on the information they got, HT has learnt.
Central security agencies are doing an internal postmortem of the twin blasts following the disclosure that in July 2012 Imran Khan and Syed Maqbool, lodged in Tihar jail, did a recee of Dilsukhnagar, where two explosions within five minutes and 150 metres of each other on Thursday left 16 people dead.
A team led by superintendent of police (intelligence) B Sumathi spent several days in Delhi interrogating Maqbool and Khan soon after they were arrested by the Delhi Police's special cell in October 2012, sources told HT.
Andhra’s IG (intelligence) M Mahender Reddy couldn’t be reached for comments despite repeated efforts.
Maqbool and Khan admitted having conducted a recce of Dilsukhnagar, Begum Bazaar and Abids in Hyderabad on a motorcycle.
The scouting, according to Maqbool, was done on the instructions of Riyaz Bhatkal, one of the founders of the IM, a proxy of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The question that the Andhra Police are not willing to answer is: what did they do with such precise information? It is not often that possible targets are specifically identified.
After Mumbai's Taj Hotel figured in intelligence inputs in the months leading up to 26/11 strikes, this is the second instance of an area or a place being named. Typically, inputs are more general in nature, specific targets are rarely mentioned.
There are other questions too. Why was surveillance not stepped up in Dilsukhnagar, a busy commercial and educational hub which escaped destruction in 2007 when an IED malfunctioned? Why were CCTV cameras in a state of disrepair in an area scouted by a terror outfit? And finally, what did the police do to get information from the areas that were receed?
Answers are hard to come by. All that a ministry of home affairs official, who is part of the postmortem exercise, said was "the information stayed in the file and was not actively pursued".
An effort is now being made to fix responsibility. "Intelligence couldn't have been more specific. It is not often that names of colonies are zeroed in on. Still, information slipped through the cracks," said another home ministry official. The officers refused to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to the media.
The lapse is serious also because Maqbool was arrested from Hyderabad. He is a history-sheeter, charged with engineering blasts in Hyderabad and Secunderabad in 2000. He, according to the Delhi Police special cell, taught other IM members to assemble bombs.