The bomb blast on Wednesday morning outside Delhi high court that has, on last count, claimed 11 lives and injured many more, was not a bolt from the blue. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had tabled its final report in July on the attempted blast outside the same Delhi High Court on May 25, 2011 and had reportedly alerted the Delhi Police that the earlier unexploded device was no crude bomb but a more sophisticated weapon. The IB and the home ministry had also reportedly alerted the Delhi Police that the May attempt could be soon followed up by a similar attack. Such an attack has indeed taken place, this time without the excuse of there being no prior warning. Either the Delhi Police decided to take little cognisance of the warning given, or armed with the knowledge, it has been able to do precious little to prevent Wednesday’s heinous attack. We are driven to believe the former explanation. So it comes as no surprise that the investigations into Wednesday’s Delhi high court bomb blast has been handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Counter-terrorist operations work on two basic principles: preventive and reactive actions. With Delhi being a victim of a litany of terrorist attacks that stretch back at least to December 13, 2001, the action undertaken after one attack (reactive action) forms the very ingredients of how to ensure that the next attack is prevented (preventive action). In other words, the attacks that have rocked Delhi and, therefore, are under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Police, form one continuing narrative. Scandalously, the city police has failed to read this narrative and thereby do its job.
Providing safety against terror attacks for its citizens should be a priority for our law enforcement agencies. And to take it away from the realm of rhetoric to action, attention must be paid at the ground level where attacks take place. On Wednesday morning, the area around Delhi high court was not only unprepared against any attack but, with cars spilling out of the car parks and no security check worth its name installed, it was a veritable invitation for anyone seeking to perpetrate violence. This can be held true for most public spaces in the national capital. While it is imperative that investigations are conducted professionally and the criminals are brought to book, the need to take appropriate measures at the ground level, will have to be instilled in our law enforcement agencies. The excuse of ‘not being able to stop every attack’ is wearing perilously thin.