Hyderabad/New Delhi: Investigators probing the twin blasts that killed 16 people and injured 119 suspect them to be the handiwork of home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) to avenge the recent hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted of conspiracy in the attack on Parliament in 2001.
“Our first assessment suggests that attack was carried out to avenge the death of Afzal Guru. And it has more to do with sending a signal to their own people that terrorists can strike at any time and have not become irrelevant. They will use this opportunity to communalize people and recruit youth,” said a senior official involved in the investigation.
“We are almost certain that Indian Mujahideen is behind the twin blasts. We believe investigations are proceeding in the right direction,” he said.
The investigators are also looking for a “common thread” between the blasts in Pune in August last year and those in Hyderabad.
The police said improvised explosive devices (IED) were used and traces of ammonium nitrate and aluminium were found from the two spots. The modus operandi bore resemblance to earlier blasts triggered by IM.
Police are going through “tonnes of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) footage” and have found certain leads which they are pursuing, said H.A. Huda, additional director general of police (law and order). But the police are wary of giving too many details as it helps perpetrators cover their tracks, Huda said.
“Wherever there we have CCTV cameras, we got the results. The CCTV cameras located close to the blast site are related to traffic and one can only see the vehicles on the road, and not faces, nor the corners,” Dwaraka Tirumala Rao, police commissioner of Cyberabad, told reporters in Hyderabad. The blast took place within the police limits of Cyberabad.
Rao said no one has been taken into custody so far. “We are confident of cracking the case,” he said, appealing to the general public to provide any information they might have.
Four teams of the Cyberabad police are working on the case, Rao said. Forensic experts of the National Security Guard and the National Investigation Agency also examined the materials found at the blast sites.
Evidence may have been lost as the police wasn’t able to keep crowds away from the sites.
The Hindu newspaper on Friday reported an “unusual delay” in the arrival of the police in spite of Saroornagar police station being close by. The leader of the opposition in the Andhra Pradesh assembly N. Chandrababu Naidu raised this question on Friday.
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde who visited the blast site on Friday said there was no specific alert on bomb blasts, a day after he told reporters in New Delhi that the Centre had prior intelligence on bomb attacks that was passed on to all state capitals.
Shinde’s statement on Friday comes after Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and director general of police V. Dinesh Reddy denied receiving specific inputs from New Delhi on possible bomb blasts. The state only received “routine alerts”, chief minister Reddy said late Thursday night. “When (people like) Afzal Guru and Kasab die, it is usual to get such kind of general alerts. Alerts have been to all states, we also received some alerts,” he said at a news conference in Hyderabad.
Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj was critical of Shinde.
“It is a very routine statement. What is the responsibility of the Union government? Can you (Shinde) assure us that there won’t be a terror strike in Mumbai and Bangalore now. Just few days before blasts, a member of this House and his brother had made hate speeches in Hyderabad. We want to know whether it has any links with terror attack,” she said.
Swaraj said the government and opposition do not share a common view on terrorism. “We have to have common thinking on terrorism. We have to be committed in the fight against terrorism,” she added.
Thursday’s blasts came after a bomb was defused under a nearby pedestrian overbridge. The site is also close to those of the August 2007 twin bomb blasts. That a bomb was set off very close to where an explosive was earlier placed has raised questions about the preparedness of the police.
The police have installed more CCTV at different points in Secunderabad and Hyderabad after the 2007 terrorist attack. “Every junction has CCTV cameras,” Huda said.
Besides installing more CCTV cameras, the police department has also increased its expertise in telecommunications, Internet and banking, and has deployed more personnel towards these duties.
Terrorist groups are also using hawala channels to transfer money, Huda said. They are also using “cut-outs”, so that one operative doesn’t know the identity of others. As a result, nabbing the culprits has become difficult. “It is a cat and mice game. It goes on,” he said.
Huda said the Andhra Pradesh police has uncovered many sleeper cells over the last few years which has helped the intelligence bureau and investigating agencies of other states.
PTI contributed to this story.