P. Chidambaram had denied intelligence failure
Contradicting Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, his Maharashtra counterpart R.R. Patil on Friday said that in the last 365 days the State had received 349 alerts and none about Pune's German Bakery as a possible terror target.
Responding to a question in the State Assembly, Mr. Patil said that after the alerts adequate precautions were taken. However, there was no alert about the Bakery, but an alert only regarding the Chabad House near it, which was tightly guarded.
He also said the government would not hand over the German Bakery blast probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Patil said many Central agencies were investigating the case along with the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) . The police would be demoralised if the case was taken from it and handed over to a Central agency.
Earlier in the week, Mr. Chidambaram said in Parliament that the February 13 blast in Pune was a “blot on our record” despite the Centre sharing enough intelligence about the terror threat. Mr. Chidambaram denied intelligence failure and said enough information was shared with the Maharashtra police about specific targets in Pune.
In turn, the Pune police on October 9, 2009, sent advisories to various establishments, including the German Bakery. Its manager Praveen Pant acknowledged the receipt of the police's letter. But the Bakery and some other establishments did not heed the warning. Again in December 2009, the advisory was reiterated.
In contrast, Mr. Patil was vehement that none of the alerts related to the Bakery. Leader of the Opposition Eknath Khadse, BJP's Girish Bapat and others took the government to task for the probe in which they said no leads were emerging.
Mr. Bapat, who is from Pune, said the city was in a state of unrest and insecurity as no one had been arrested. The Opposition also staged a walk-out on the issue of shoddy investigation and to press for its demand for a CBI probe. Mr. Khadse and Mr. Bapat said if the investigation did not yield results within a fortnight, the case should be handed over to the CBI.
Mr. Patil said the Central teams and the ATS were doing their job. If the State and the Centre later felt it was necessary, it would not stand on prestige and hand over the case to the CBI, he added. However, right now, there was no need for the same, as the ATS was working hard to solve the case and had many leads which could not be disclosed at this point in time. It would be inappropriate to reveal the progress of the case, but they were zeroing in on the culprits, he said.
Mr. Khadse said that the Union Home Minister had said that the blast was a blot, but the Maharashtra police were doing nothing about it. He asked Mr. Patil whether he knew about Headley's confession of guilt with respect to the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai and its effect on the charge sheet against the lone surviving gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab.
Mr. Patil said that read about it in the newspapers and that there was no official communication from the Centre. Speaker Dilip Walse Patil intervened to say that the Pune blast was a sensitive issue and there must be some propriety exercised in the matter.
Vinayak Nimhan, MLA, said that a few days before the blast the police had withdrawn all security from vital places and diverted it to theatres for the release of the My Name is Khan.