A blame game over intelligence inputs erupted on Friday after the twin bomb blasts in Hyderabad as the role of banned militant outfit Indian Mujahideen was being increasingly suspected by probe agencies who got some "leads".
The death toll in the blasts in a crowded area at Dilsukhnagar on Thursday night rose to 16 with the number of injured being put at 117 even as the multi-agency investigative teams combed the blast sites at Dilsukhnagar rocked by near simultaneous explosions. All but one of the dead were men.
Eight CCTVs installed in the area were of no use for the investigators pinning hopes on them for evidence as they malfunctioned. Union home ministry sources denied that the CCTV wires were snapped by the peprpetrators of the attack.
Forensic experts who collected evidence from the blasts site submitted a preliminary report indicating that ammonium nitrate were used in the bombs, which were planted in tiffin boxes and fitted to two bicycles, police sources said.
"This is an explosive mix in which aluminium sharpeners were added to nails and iron pieces used to create more impact," a forensic expert noted. Investigators were also looking for a timer device.
Cyberabad Police Commissioner Dwaraka Tirumala Rao said they had gathered enough clues about those involved but added the information could not be divulged. He denied having "detained" anyone in connection with the case.
Nothing has been officially said but the accusing finger in the case is being pointed towards the IM that has an "established network" in Hyderabad. The modus operandi in strapping Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to bicycles was similar to blasts triggered by IM in the past.
Hyderabad along with Bangalore, Coimbatore and Hubli were specifically alerted by the central security agencies about possible attacks by Pakistan-based terrorist groups to avenge the hanging of Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Apart from a general advisory sent to all states on February 19, Union home ministry officials said the specific information about possible attacks was shared with authorities in the four cities on Thursday morning.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said all states were alerted about a possible terror strike by militant groups. However, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy had said those were general alerts which often keep coming from the Centre.
It has also emerged that two of the alleged IM operatives arrested by Delhi Police for their involvement in Pune blasts last year did a recce of Dilsukhnagar on a motorcycle in July 2012.
Sayed Maqbool and Imran Khan, both of whom hail from Nanded district in Maharashtra, told police during interrogation after their arrest in October that they both did a recee of Dilsukhnagar, Begum Bazar and Abids in Hyderabad on a motorcycle in July 2012.
"About a month before Ramzan in 2012, Maqbool helped Imran in doing a recce of Dilsukhnagar, Begum Bazar and Abids in Hyderabad on a motorcycle. This was done on the instruction of Riyaz Bhatkal(IM founder now holed up in Pakistan)," officials said in New Delhi.
Police announced "suitable reward" to those who provide information about the perpetrators of the crime with Tirumala Rao promising to crack the case at the earliest. National Investigation Agency(NIA) also formed a crack team headed by a DIG.
Andhra Pradesh government handed over the case to the state Crime Investigation Department for a detailed probe. The CID will carry out the investigation in concert with the NIA, police sources said in Hyderabad.
Police regretted that a lot of crucial evidence could have been lost as hundreds of people trampled on the blasts site soon after the incident.
"The crime scene was largely disturbed as large number of people moved freely even before we could totally sanitize the two spots. A lot of evidence virtually got trampled due to movement of VIPs, a large number of media personnel and curious onlookers.
But still we could gather some material that could help us in the probe," an Inspector General of Police, who was among the first to reach the spot last night, told PTI.
Referring to the Hyderabad blasts, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said there are different terrorist modules.
"They try and strike. We know some of them which we have to stop. This one got through," he said in Pune.
Beginning with Shinde, a host of leaders visited the scene of attack since this morning and also consoled injured persons undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the city.
The Kiran Kumar Reddy government, on the other hand, came under sharp attack from the opposition parties for having failed to act on the intelligence inputs provided by the Centre on the possible terror strike. The government came up with its defence saying there was "no clarity" in the Centre’s warning.
Meanwhile, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who visited the crime scene this evening, said terrorism has emerged as a major threat to the sovereignty of the country but asserted that the UPA government "was never soft and will never be soft" on terrorists.
"We have given the terrorists the maximum possible punishment under the law," Azad reminded, in reference to Azmal Kasab and Afzal Guru's recent hanging.
The state government announced a compensation of Rs 6 lakh each to those who suffered permanent disability in the twin blasts.
The state had already announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 6 lakh each to the kin of those killed in the blasts.
Meanwhile, the opposition TDP attacked the state government.
"The twin blasts were clearly a result of the state government's failure. The government remained lax even after the Centre issued a warning," Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu said.
The former Chief Minister, who reached Hyderabad this morning from Guntur district, inspected the twin blasts site and later went to Omni hospital where the injured were undergoing treatment.
Talking to newsmen on the occasion, the Leader of Opposition said that the terrorists triggered the blasts with a perfect plan.
"It's deplorable that the state government did not take the Centre's warning (on terror strike) seriously. At least now the government should switch to the alert mode and prevent such ghastly incidents from recurring," Chandrababu said.