Chidambaram says there were no intelligence inputs on possibility of such a coordinated terror attack

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday that he could not find words to condemn the barbaric acts of terror here that killed and injured innocent people.

Dr. Singh, who arrived here to express solidarity with Wednesday's serial blasts-hit Mumbaikars, said: “I assure the people that the government will do everything in its power to prevent such attacks in future. In the final analysis, it is the unity and strength of the people that will defeat these efforts to divide our people and destroy our civilized way of life.”

“I share their pain, anger”

The Prime Minister said he understood the shock and outrage of the people of Mumbai. “I share their pain, anguish and anger. I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to those who have suffered in this terrible tragedy. The need of the hour is to look after their medical and other immediate needs. I have asked the State government to ensure that all support is provided so that these families can overcome the tragedy and rebuild their lives.”

Dr. Singh had announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 1 lakh for those seriously injured.

He said the Central and State governments acted quickly to deal with the situation. He asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to continue to coordinate their efforts and resources to relentlessly pursue the perpetrators. They must be brought to justice quickly and be subject to the rule of law that they have sought to subvert. “We owe this to the grieving families.”

The Prime Minister had a meeting with Mr. Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, State Home Minister R.R. Patil and top police officials and reviewed the situation.

Later, accompanied by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Dr. Singh visited the J.J. Hospital and the Saifee hospital and met the victims.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chidambaram described the blasts as an unfortunate incident. He said there were no intelligence inputs on the possibility of such a coordinated terror attack.

“There were no intelligence inputs to the Central or the State agencies about any imminent attack in Mumbai. This does not mean a failure of intelligence. They [perpetrators] worked in a clandestine manner. Intelligence sharing has indeed improved. We monitor inputs every day. The Maharashtra government has responded promptly to inputs,” Mr. Chidambaram said at a press conference here.

The Home Minister, who visited all the three blast sites, said the blasts could be in retaliation to the arrest of Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives and Maoist cadres in Maharashtra. “The Maharashtra government took successful counter-terror measures. They arrested two IM operatives and 17 cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). We will probe if the blasts were in reaction to this.”

The Maharashtra police was asked “not to proceed on any kind of assumption or presupposition. All groups hostile to the country are suspect. We will not point fingers at the moment. All angles will be investigated, all premises examined and all leads followed.” No group had claimed responsibility so far. As for the government, they assumed a “collective responsibility” for the attack.

Forensic evidence

The Centre had dispatched teams of the National Security Guard, the National Investigation Agency and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory. “They all reached Mumbai and are working with the ATS [Anti-Terrorism Squad] and the Crime Branch.

“Forensic evidence pertaining to the nature of the explosive, the trigger of timer mechanism, the container in which the explosive was kept and the damage caused, is being gathered. The Maharashtra Forensic Science Laboratory has collected relevant forensic evidence. The three sites have been cordoned off and barricaded. It was not a remotely triggered bomb,” he said.

The Home Minister said that after 26/11, Mumbai was “reasonably secure.” “This incident has taken place after 31 months of 26/11. Before that we had the Pune attack of February 2010. This shows Mumbai and Maharashtra have developed increased capacity. They have successfully neutralised a large number of terrorist threats and potential attacks.”

“It is sad that this is the second incident after 26/11 in India and in Maharashtra. The attacks have been carried out by cowardly forces hostile to the integrity and prosperity of India.”

Mr. Chavan announced that the government would bear the medical costs for the victims at private hospitals. The government had also announced a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh for the family of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 for those injured.

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