A day after two blasts ripped through the middle-class locality of Dilkushnagar in Hyderabad, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy answered a posse of questions, unhindered, at his office in the state secretariat on Friday.
In an interview with Presley Thomas, the chief minister spoke about the threat perception from terrorists, the government’s intelligence gathering machinery, and the way forward to make Hyderabad safer.
Ostensibly, it seems terrorist organisations have narrowed down on a few cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Varanasi and Hyderabad to execute spectacular attacks. There are at least three previous instances where Hyderabad has been targeted. Do you think Hyderabad has become a soft target?
I would not say Hyderabad is a soft target. It is the third major attack in a period of 10 years. Terrorists have a game plan to disturb the peace and harmony that exists amongst communities in Andhra Pradesh, and we have been trying to prevent such attacks. And I would say that we have been successful in foiling their plan most of the time. Ninety-five percent of the times, we have succeeded in gathering intelligence about their possible activities in the state.
Then, do you believe that the government machinery failed to gather intelligence about the twin blasts at Dilkushnagar. And do you own up for the failure?
We did not have specific intelligence. And as the head of the state, I do own up to the responsibility.
But it is said that agencies in Delhi had sent out an alert on February 16, 2013, warning of a possible terror strike.
It was not a specific alert for Hyderabad. It was a general alert that was sent to all states. There was no operational intelligence that pointed out that blasts would occur in Hyderabad.
In the recent past, Andhra Pradesh has seen some political upheaval, accompanied by hate speeches. Do you think the blasts are a result of such political situations?
It is a terrorist strike, which is an attack on Hyderabad, more so on India. I don’t think political parties are involved in it. In fact, political parties in the state have come together and condemned the attack. It is not a political issue.
In other states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, specific counter-terrorism units have been created to track and investigate terrorists and blast cases. Andhra Pradesh does not have a specific agency to handle cases related to terrorism.
We do have a special wing which tracks jihadi terrorists. Everything needn't be put in public domain.
How would you strengthen the security of Hyderabad in the coming days, in terms of procuring equipment like CCTVs or augmenting the force?
We have CCTVs installed in various parts of the city. And we have plans to introduce CCTVs across the city. But it is a costly and time-consuming affair. We have planned it in a phased manner, and the CCTVs will definitely be installed.
There have been allegations that a CCTV camera installed right across the blast site at Dilkushnagar was not functional. In fact, a local police station had written a letter to repair the CCTV.
Who said that? It is not true.
Do you mean to say that the CCTV was functional and we have the footage of the perpetrators of Thursday’s twin blasts?
I would not to comment on that. It is too premature.