Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday described the blasts in Mumbai as a “well-coordinated attack by terrorists” and appealed to people to remain calm and maintain peace.
Three blasts in the country's financial capital ripped through crowded places at 6.45 p.m. and occurred within minutes of each other, the Minister said after presiding over an emergency meeting of top officials of his Ministry.
“We infer this was a coordinated attack by terrorists,” he told reporters outside the North Block. He feared a rise in the death toll.
Mr. Chidambaram said the National Security Guard (NSG) hub in Mumbai , set up in the wake of the 26/11 terror attack in the city in 2008, was put on standby. The elite force's ‘post-blast' team was also sent to Mumbai.
Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) teams from Delhi and Hyderabad were sent to Mumbai. A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), led by an IG rank officer, would also leave for Mumbai, he said.
Mr. Chidambaram was directed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to do everything necessary and keep him updated.
The Prime Minister also spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said.
The North Block witnessed hectic activity soon after the blasts' news spread. Even as Home Secretary R. K. Singh spoke to the Maharashtra Chief Secretary, Secretary (Internal Security) U. K. Bansal monitored the situation, alerting the machinery and ensuring that the NIA, NSG and CFSL teams left for Mumbai in time.
At the emergency meeting, the internal security situation was discussed and it was decided to sound high alert in all the States, particularly in cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Delhi.
The Home Ministry was monitoring the situation on a regular basis and putting to use much of crisis-fighting apparatus and practices, like multi-agency centre, put in force after 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
Sources in the intelligence set-up were inclined to believe that improvised explosive devices were used in the blasts and they appeared to be the handiwork of Indian Mujahideen along with the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The blasts come barely a fortnight before India and Pakistan are engaged in yet another round of talks.