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Bomb blast in Delhi High Court

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IBN Live reports:

Bomb blast victim: Delhi Sep 7, 2011
The national capital was once again the target of a terror strike when a high intensity bomb blast outside the Delhi High Court on Wednesday killed 11 people and injured 76 others. The bomb, reportedly a combination of ammonium nitrate and pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) and planted by terror group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) in a suitcase, exploded at 10:14 AM outside Delhi High Court’s Gate No. 5 where more that 100 litigants had gathered for passes to enter the court’s premises.

What made planting of the bomb in one of the most high security area an easy job was the fact that there were no CCTV cameras installed at the gate. Even the metal detectors and scanners were not functioning making the task of checking and frisking hundreds of litigants, lawyers and visitors a tough job for the security personnel.

Unlike most of the recent bomb blasts, the terror strike at the High Court was carried out in the morning and the day was also carefully chosen as Wednesday is one of the heaviest days of court business because it is the day when Public Interest Litigations (PILs) are filed.

NDTV reported:

The Delhi Police has released two sketches of the man believed to be responsible for today’s terror attack, based on descriptions provided by eyewitnesses. (See sketches of the suspect)

“All states put on high alert. A forensic team of CFSL Delhi examining evidence from blast site,” UK Bansal, Special Secretary Security, said.

This is the second explosion in the Delhi High Court in four months. A smaller bomb in a parking lot in May did not cause any injuries. Police sources say that attempt was a dry run by the terrorists behind today’s attack. The incident in May had underscored the need for security cameras. They have yet to be installed at the court’s nine different gates.

ET reported the massive goof up by the Delhi police:

The Delhi Bar Association on Wednesday hit out at Delhi Police, blaming it for not installing CCTVs at the Delhi High Court gates despite an earlier bomb blast in May.

Now, identifying who concealed the powerful bomb in a briefcase that exploded near Gate 5 killing 11 people will be tough — minus the cameras.

Bar association chairman Rakesh Tiku added that none of the high court’s nine gates has any surveillance camera.

“This lapse was highlighted in May when a bomb exploded at a parking lot near Gate 7,” said Tiku.

He said the high court wrote to Delhi Police seeking CCTV cameras at all the gates of the complex.

That proposal was still pending with the police, he said.

Wednesday’s blast took place at Gate 5 where passes are issued to visitors.

TOI reported the Home Minister’s statement:

As terror struck capital again, home minister P Chidambaram today regretted that the bomb blast near high court here had taken place despite intelligence being shared with Delhi Police in July and the force being on high alert.

He told Parliament that it was not possible at “this stage” to identify the group behind the attack but asserted that government will not be intimidated by terrorist groups and was “determined to track down the perpetrators of this horrific crime and bring them to justice.”

Making identical statements with “profound sorrow and regret” in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Chidambaram noted that Delhi is a target of terrorist groups and when Parliament is in session and during certain other times of the year, the capital is placed on high alert.

“Intelligence agencies constantly share intelligence inputs with Delhi Police. Intelligence pertaining to threats emanating from certain groups was shared with Delhi Police in July, 2011,” the home minister said.

At the same time that the above report was published on the web, HT reported:

An email received by different media organisations allegedly from Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) said that the group takes responsibility for today’s Delhi High Court blast in which 10 people were killed and over 56 were injured. HuJI is a outlawed Bangladesh-based terrorist group with base in Pakistan. “We take the mail very seriously,” said NIA Chief S C Sinha.

The email says:

“We owe the responsibility of todays blasts at high court delhi….. our demand is that Afzal Guru’s death sentence should be repealede immediately else we would target major high courts & THE SUPREME COURT OF…” (sic)

About the investigations, IBN Live says:

National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief SC Sinha announced on Wednesday that a team of 20 officials will investigate the bomb blast outside the Delhi High Court.

Sinha said that the NIA has collected evidence from the blast site and has been conducting tests to find out the nature of the explosive used in the terror strike.

The team will be headed by DIG Mukesh Singh, a Jammu and Kashmir cadre Indian Police Service officer of 1996 batch. The chief investigating officer of the team will be Nitish Kumar, another Jammu and Kashmir cadre Indian Police Service officer of 1999 batch.

The team will have one Superintendent of Police, two Additional Superintendents of Police, two Deputy Superintendents of Police, four Inspectors and several head constables and constables.

Reacting to an e-mail reportedly sent by terror group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) claiming responsibility for the High Court blast, Sinha said the mail sent was being being looked at. Sinha added the NIA was taking the mail seriously since the HuJI was involved in the Mumbai blasts.

This is the first time I have seen a definitive statement that the organization behind the Mumbai blasts is known. Is this for real, or just another loose statement? [ET confirms that this was loose talk] All previous statements about the Mumbai blasts said that every lead was inconclusive. If the case had really been tracked to the HuJI, we would have heard about this before. People will find it hard to trust an agency which makes such unconsidered statemements right at the beginning of its investigation.

Rediff reports:

IB sources say that ‘while the HuJI link is under the scanner, we are still to come to a final conclusion. All angles are open as of now.’

The IB, meanwhile, continues to study the mail. “It appears to have come out of South Africa, but we are certain it was sent out locally. Further it is also being ascertained whether the mail was actually sent out by the HuJI or by mischief makers,” they added.

However one thing is sure and that a professional had undertaken this exercise, the IB sources point out.

Another angle that is being probed is whether a radical group from northeast carried out the attack.

Comments made after the Mumbai bomb blasts hold true even now: there are terror networks which are off the radar of the police and intelligence agencies, and they have a common modus operandi.

September 9, 2011

The email leads are unlikely to be productive, reports TOI:

On Thursday, investigators traced the “HuJI” mail received on Wednesday “owning up” to the blast to Global Internet Cafe in Kishtwar in Jammu. The cafe owner and two others have been detained for questioning but the youth who has been identified as the likely email author, a frequent visitor to the establishment, is yet to be traced.

The HuJI email threatened more strikes unless the death sentence of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was commuted.

Although a manhunt was on for him, sources were not sure whether he was actually linked to the perpetrators of the attack, or was just one of the sympathizers of Guru seeking to cash in on the attack. The email ID used for sending the email was created at 1.04 pm — more than two hours after the briefcase bomb went off — something that raises the suspicion that the email may have been a clumsy effort to highlight Guru’s plea.

The new email, allegedly sent by the IM at 12.37 pm from the id , said the terror group’s next target would be a shopping area. “Hamara agla target jald hi rang layega jo ek shopping complex ke bahar hoga. Use koi nahi rok sakta aur yeh agle tuesday ko hoga. rok sako toh rok lo. (Our next target is a shopping complex. If you can stop it, stop it),” the sender identifying himself as Chotoo said.

Like the HuJI email, the language was hurried and did not match the elaborate IM emails that followed serial blasts in 2008. The messages were sent without much preparation. Also, unlike the previous IM emails which were timed to coincide with blasts carried out by the group, the one sent by Chhotu arrived a day later and that too in response to the alleged email by HuJI.

September 10, 2011

Zee News contains an update on the case:

The Delhi Police on Saturday found a switch which is believed to have been used to trigger off the blast at the Delhi High Court, reports say.

Earlier in the day, the Delhi Police had asked for the CCTV footage from over 700 hotels and guest houses for investigation.

Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said that there are promising, but no conclusive leads in the Delhi High Court blast case.

So far, four emails claiming responsibility for the Delhi HC blast have been received leaving investigators confounded.

Investigative agencies have detained two people from Rajasthan’s Alwar district on suspicion of their involvement in the terror attack.

September 13, 2011

The Hindu reports that the clueless investigation is resorting to the kind of tactics which is unlikely to endear them to the public:

Residents of Kishtwar district in the Jammu division on Monday observed a shutdown against “random” arrests and “harassment” in connection with the Delhi High Court blast case. The police are probing an e-mail claiming responsibility for the last week’s blast.

The e-mail, sent in the name of Harkat-Ul-Jihadi Islami (HuJI), had been traced to the Global Cyber Café in Kishtwar. So far, official sources said, the police had questioned 60 people and eight were still in custody. A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) also visited Kishtwar but nothing is known about its progress.

The sources told The Hindu that the owner of the café, his brother and the manager had already been questioned and were likely to be booked as they were using a “personal Internet” connection for commercial purposes. Two brothers were released on Monday, and another youth was arrested.

Even as the questioning was on, the police detained Sharik Khawar Butt (16) and Abid Hussain Bhawani (15), which provoked the people. They lodged a strong protest and sat in a dharna demanding a fair probe. A group of senior citizens met Deputy Commissioner M.H. Malik and urged him to intervene and put an end to police “harassment.”

Imam of Jamia Masjid, Kishtwar, Farooq Ahmed Kichloo, who had called for the strike, condemned the Delhi blast. He said Islam did not permit the killing of innocent people. However, he said the delay in the investigation was the cause of worry. The Imam said they wanted the culprits to be punished but they opposed harassment in the name of investigation.

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