Some of the apprehensions that anti-India elements may take advantage of the focus of the country’s security establishment on the ongoing elections came true on Thursday when two low-intensity blasts took place on a train bound for Guwahati from Bangalore. One saving grace in this was that the explosions happened at Chennai Central railway station and relief, evacuation and safety operations could be pressed into service more effectively than would have been the case if the blast would have taken place while the train was passing through rural areas. The police have arrested one suspect and the investigation is under progress.
Post-blast scenarios in India are usually marked by breakdown of standard operating procedures like cordoning off a crime scene, giving up-to-date information to the families of victims or even providing proper and timely medical facilities to victims. But this time, everything seemed to have worked according to the rulebook: The scene was cordoned off for forensic teams, timely medical aid was provided to the victims and the railway minister also announced ex-gratia payments. The railways too resumed the train service from the station within a few hours. While all these measures should be seen as routine and not singled out for special mention or praise, the truth is administrations across India have failed more often than not to perform their duties in times of crises.
The Chennai blasts also point to a greater need for our security establishment to be more alert because there are groups and individuals who are waiting for signs of administrative and security lethargy to strike the country hard.