While the home ministry has discounted the alert that falsely identified five Lahore traders and a security guard as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) members, it has confirmed intelligence from multiple agencies that Mumbai and Gujarat are on the terror radar of Pakistan-based groups.
Top government sources confirmed that foreign agencies have tipped off New Delhi that Mumbai and Gujarat are on the target list. “The advisory about the terror attack is correct but photos given out are false,” said a senior official.
Meanwhile, India’s external intelligence agency RA&W tried to pass off part of the blame for flashing the countrywide alert on the five terrorists this month to the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), under the Intelligence Bureau. The alert was disseminated by MAC in the first week of May, despite the IB’s reservations, after RA&W insisted that it had credible intel on terror attacks in Mumbai and Gujarat.
Sources said that after the fiasco came to light last Thursday, RA&W chief Sanjeev Tripathi expressed his unhappiness over MAC releasing the intelligence to state police before home minister P Chidambaram, home secretary Raj Singh and IB director Nehchal Sandhu. However, it was pointed out that MAC had flashed the alert on the insistence of the external intelligence agency itself.
The RA&W counter-terror team was so confident about the latest alert that an unofficial letter was issued by the agency to top officials of the PMO and home ministry around May 1. The letter was contested by the IB operations wing because the intelligence could not be corroborated. At an inter-intelligence meeting called in North Block on May 2 evening, both the sides stuck to their stand.
The matter is yet to be thrashed out between the home minister and intelligence chiefs.