A police officer calls Centre’s alert as routine without any area-specific input

Why did the Andhra Pradesh police fail to prevent the terror attack at Dilsukhnagar despite it receiving an alert from the Centre?

The State police had indeed received an alert some four days ago about the possibility of the terror strikes, but it was so general in nature that the note was routinely forwarded from one level to another in the police hierarchy without it attracting any interest. The alert spoke about the possibility of terror strikes in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune, in the backdrop of hanging of Afzal Guru.

“It was a routine one. It did not have an area-specific intelligence input or actionable information. It talked about the possibility of terror strike in four cities. How does one interpret this?” asked a senior officer who refused to be quoted.

In respect of the reports that Dilsukhnagar and Begum Bazar being recced by members of a module of Indian Mujahideen (IM), as confessed to the officials of Delhi Police Special Cell who arrested them in October last, authorities confided that the interrogation reports were shared by the Delhi police with Hyderabad police. However, no measures were initiated in these two areas for some inexplicable reasons. No official is willing to discuss or disclose why some action was not initiated despite this specific input.

Generally, police organise ‘nakabandi’ – the practise of all officers and men coming out on roads and begin checking all vehicles and passersby at pre-designated spots. This is ostensibly to discourage any potential law-breaker by the visible presence of policemen. Sometimes, the technique employed is to deliberately release information about the possibility of terror strikes and declare ‘Red Alerts.’ “Such tactics are meant to let the enemy know that we have information about them.”

Strangely, Hyderabad has not seen any such exercise in the last one week and authorities are taking the shelter under secrecy now. “Generic alerts are common. Except stepping up security at vulnerable places and thoroughly checking them, little can be done with limited forces available,” say the police officials.

Authorities are also maintaining a steady silence on another aspect. Obviously because of the blunders they committed while investigating the Mecca Masjid blast case of 2007 in implicating several innocent Muslim youths in the case, senior police officers are taking extreme care in not naming any organisation as being suspected for Thursday blasts.

The general practise of rounding up youths or those in police records for their alleged involvement in crimes or communal offenses and thrashing them has been dispensed with this time. There were no reports of people being ordered to come to police stations or being incarcerated merely on suspicion this time. “Why should we take the risk?” was the common refrain from several officers who were approached for their comments. More palpable is the extreme caution among police officers not to hold people of minority community responsible for terror attacks. They are so guarded even in pointing out possible suspects and are not willing to go on record about any outfits’ complicity except giving hints in private conversations.

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