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Terror echo in State capital

THE VARANASI blasts could have been averted if the State police had paid attention to State intelligence inputs about increasing activities of ISI modules in Varanasi and its adjoining areas.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 01:55 IST
M Hasan

Intelligence inputs about ISI ignored

THE VARANASI blasts could have been averted if the State police had paid attention to State intelligence inputs about increasing activities of ISI modules in Varanasi and its adjoining areas.

Varanasi became the third target of terrorists in seven months, amply demonstrating that the State had become a soft target for Pakistan-trained ultras. The two earlier attacks were in Ayodhya and the train explosion near Sultanpur in July 2005.

Additional director general (Intelligence) Desh Raj Nagar had provided specific information about existence of ISI modules in the Varanasi region. The information was based on the arrest of a few people in January in Varanasi. A terrorist was again arrested in Varanasi on March 1. He provided vital information about possible violence in the temple town.

Nagar, while presenting a report about ISI activities at the police officers’ conference last month, had said that agents, instead of infiltrating into the country from the western borders, had now taken the Bangladesh route. While several districts in western UP were already in the grip of ISI activities, Nagar said Varanasi and its neighbourhood could also emerge as an area of concern in the near future. Central intelligence agencies had also provided information about their presence in the region. However, except for increasing security around the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Varanasi police never bothered to protect other important shrines. Thus after the 5/7 failure in Ayodhya, the terrorists struck in a big way in the equally sensitive temple city. The terrorists, instead of targeting the Gyanwapi Complex in the city, attacked a crowded temple on the pattern of the Diwali-eve Delhi blasts of last year.

Low-intensity activities concentrated in western UP had been going on for the last few years.

There were scattered explosions in Kanpur and on some trains earlier. But, the 5/7 attack on Ayodhya turned the spotlight on terrorist activity in the State. “The Varanasi blasts have only worsened the situation,” said a senior police officer.

The officer told Hindustan Times on Wednesday that western UP was on the police radar with special focus on Kairana (Muzaffarnagar), Philakwa (Ghaziabad) Meerut City, Deoband (Saharanpur), Bulandshahr and Aligarh, but the police never paid attention to the eastern region. There were also reports of large-scale recruitment of local youths for disruptive activities in the west. Sources said while the Jaish-e-Mohammad was the main organisation operating in the West, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) emerged as a major threat only after the Ayodhya attack. However, police never took the intelligence input seriously.