The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) State president, K. Annamalai on Monday, blamed systemic failure on the part of the State police machinery in preventing the car blast that took place in front of Kottai Sangameshwarar temple in Coimbatore, on October 23.
Mr. Annamalai was talking to newsmen after offering joint prayers at the temple, as thanksgiving to Kottai Sangameswarar, for saving the city.
Commencing the press meet by lauding the Coimbatore police for their swift response as soon as the blast took place, he said that after the 1998 serial explosions, the city’s growth had not been on expected lines and noted that if the car blast had taken place as it was designed by the perpetrators of the crime, the city would have been pushed 20 years behind..
Every religion had bad people and good people, he said, and from day one the BJP had not been branding the incident with any religion. Even the heads of Islamic institutions had voiced good thoughts and he wanted to meet them and thank them, Mr. Annamalai said.
‘Voicing mistakes with good intention’
The BJP leader said that some mistakes had taken place, and the BJP was voicing these with the good intention that they should be rectified. To find fault with the State government and to create trouble was not the party’s motive, he stated.
Referring to the Intelligence alert sounded in July 19 this year, he said the alert had in fact named 96 ISIS sympathisers who had been radicalised and the 89th person in the alert was Jameesha Mubin.
Mr. Annamalai wanted to know why the police had not put him on its watch list. It was this failure that he had referred to as a systemic failure, he said.
For a couple of days, the police briefing referred to the incident as a cylinder blast and words such as suicide bomber and terror attack were added to the press briefings only subsequently, Mr. Annamalai said, and displayed some nails and a ball (used in bearings) as materials which the public had shared with him.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is an investigating agency and not an intelligence agency, he clarified while responding to a query on joint responsibility of Central and State agencies in such terrorist attacks.
He also made it clear that the central intelligence alert was again sounded on October 18 and it was wrong on the part of the State to say that it was received only on October 21.
He also objected to the use of the word ‘general alert’ and not ‘specific alert’. The alert had specifically named three States and three cities as vulnerable to attacks, and this could be a lone wolf attack, he said.
‘Have to wait for NIA charge-sheet’
When newsmen asked about Mr. Annamalai’s different parameters for the NIA and the local police, and specifically, the fact that the NIA’s First Information Report (FIR) has not invoked the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and does make any mention of suicide bomber, Mr. Annamalai said that one has to wait for the NIA’s press release or charge-sheet.
He did clarify that contrary to the DGPs preliminary finding that what were used in the car blast were low-grade explosives, the NIA’s FIR clearly states that they were high-grade explosives.
On the Coimbatore unit of the BJP giving a bandh call, Mr. Annamalai clarified that it was purely the decision of the Coimbatore unit, and after this came to his notice, it had been withdrawn.
On Minister K.N. Nehru’s assertion that the BJP in the State was in the third place, Mr. Annamalai thanked Mr. Nehru and refused to comment on other parties.
When some media persons sought his apology for referring to newsmen as monkeys, he said that it was only a comparison and he was right in doing so, and refused to tender an apology..