A railway police officer with a sniffer dog inspects the luggage of a passenger in Mumbai following twin explosions in Hyderabad. (HT Photo)
After Afzal Guru’s execution, the chances of retaliation by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its front Indian Mujahideen (IM) were discussed at a high-level meeting chaired by home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
The possibility of Hyderabad being a target of terror groups also came up for discussion.
But the slip occurred because the agencies could not confirm their suspicions regarding Hyderabad, as a result of which a generic alert on SIMI/IM was issued by Intelligence Bureau's Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) to all metropolitan police commissioners and state chiefs on February 19.
If intelligence agencies failed in pin-pointing Hyderabad, the city police — particularly the Special Task Force — botched up, too, as it could not uncover the terror module in time and preempt the strike.
The failure of Hyderabad police is evident from the fact that they knew that Indian Mujahideen’s co-chief Riyaz Bhatkal had asked Imran —arrested by Delhi Police last October — to survey Dilsukhnagar in June 2012.
This Hindu-dominated area has been targeted by terrorists four times — 1999, 2002, 2007 and 2013 — with Riyaz personally planting the bombs in 2007.
The Centre's failure to recognise the threat due to want of real-time intelligence and the state's failure to initiate proactive steps reveals laxity on part of the internal security establishment in targeting terror modules in the country.
"The Hyderabad police has to share part of the blame as they failed to pick up ground intelligence and activation of a terror module in the communally sensitive city," said an official.
However, top intelligence officials and home ministry officials say getting actionable intelligence is easier said than done as terrorists have options, time and surprise on their side given that radicalised pockets are present all over the country.
"Even the Americans could not detect the 2009 Christmas underwear bomber and the 2010 Times Square Pakistani bomber on their own. They were lucky that the bombs malfunctioned," said an intelligence official.