Nine bomb blasts rocked Jaipur on May 13, which killed 64 and injured over 150 people. Two days after the blasts, Chief Minister of Rajasthan Smt Vasundhara Raje, in an exclusive interview to Organiser Correspondent Deepak Kumar Rath, gave details about the investigation and initiatives taken by her government. Excerpts:
What progress has the police made in the serial bomb blasts?
Rajasthan police is making a steady progress in the investigation. They have got some vital clues for taking the investigation process ahead. As you would appreciate, it may not be proper for me to reveal these leads at this juncture, as it might hamper the investigation process. We are dealing here with professional killers who are hell bent upon fomenting trouble.
What initiative has your government taken in this regard?
Rajasthan government has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the blasts. We have also decided to constitute a Special Task Force (STF) to deal with anti-terror activities in the state. We are studying the models existing in Punjab, UP and Gujarat and would come up with a model to suit the local conditions.
Who do you think are behind the blasts?
The manner in which these attacks have been carried out, the needle of suspicion clearly points to trained terrorists. At this point of time, I cannot name a specific group with certainty but the pattern of events indicates involvement of the terrorists from across the border. The high intensity explosives were laid out in a curved tray for maximum impact; with about 2000 plus pellets (size of a ball bearing) in each. Each had two detonators with a large 9 volts battery. There was a separate 1.5 volt battery for the timer in the form of a digital alarm clock.
It is claimed that central agencies had already provided the intelligence input about the blasts. Comment.
In a state with 6 crore plus population or for that matter in the country with a billion plus people, you would agree that it is rather difficult to have a fool-proof system of intelligence. Central agencies, contrary to claims by some in Delhi, never provided a focussed intelligence input. The communications that we received were the routine alerts that are sent to all the states on Republic Day and Independence Day. However, that does not mean that there is no scope for improvement in our intelligence gathering mechanism in a co-ordinated way. There is a need to have a multi-agency database for information on criminals and terrorists. Girish Saxena Commission had recommended way back in 2001 that intelligence agencies across India are short of 3000 personnel. Surprisingly, to date, only 1400 new posts have been created. It is anybody'sguess as to how many of these have been filled so far.
So what do you suggest?
As I said, the central and the state intelligence agencies need to work in a better and coordinated manner to work towards the common goal of thwarting the designs of these terrorist groups.
Re-introduction of POTA is the need of the hour. As you would appreciate, tough provisions of POTA clearly act as a major deterrent and help prevent such incidents. The features of POTA like (a) Confessions made before police being acceptable; (b) Easier mechanism to link conspirators; (c) Longer remand period to help interrogation; and (d) The burden of proof on the accused, help the police and other investigation agencies. In Rajasthan, the assembly had passed a comprehensive bill called Rajasthan Control of Organised Crime Bill in the year 2006. Surprisingly, central government has not given its consent to go ahead with this, for the last two years. However, similar bills were allowed for Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh.
How do you think people of Jaipur responded to these blasts?
Jaipur has had a great history of communal harmony. People showed great resilience in these difficult times. I was amazed to see the number of people who came forward voluntarily to donate blood. Ironically, we had to say no, late last night, to these volunteer blood donors. After the curfew was relaxed on May 15 at 6 PM, the walled city was bustling with activity and the temples were witnessing vibrant aartis. I am thankful to RSS, and other social service and civil society groups for helping us out in these difficult times.