Delhi blast exposes security, intelligence loopholes: Experts

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Top security experts say that Wednesday's blast outside the Delhi High Court has 'exposed the loopholes in our security system' which 'has an inadequate and incapable intelligence gathering system and a weak counter-terrorism mechanism'.

Ved Marwah, former governor of Manipur who was also chief of the Delhi Police, told IANS: 'The blast points towards the loopholes in the security system itself.'

'While we look out for the terrorists responsible for the blast, we should have a look inside, into our own systems. More than the success of the terrorists, it is the weakness of our systems which cause terrorist incidents one after another.'

Ajai Sahni, director of the New Delhi-based Institute of Conflict Management, warned that more terror strikes are likely. 'Because our intelligence gathering capabilities are highly inadequate,' Sahni told IANS.

Sahni said the country's 'counter-terrorism mechanism is still very weak'. In a country of 1.2 billion people, there are only 5,000 central intelligence officials, he pointed out.

'Even these officials have to handle multiple tasks. They have to gather political intelligence, track separatist movements and keep a watch on social tensions,' he said.

P.H. Hormis Tharakan, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), said that setbacks are natural in the 'long-drawn fight against terrorism'.

'Terrorism is a continuing phenomenon which the security forces are able to control many times. But there will be ups and downs in the fight against terror. It is not a battle but a long-drawn war,' Tharakan told IANS over telephone from Bangalore.

Sahni said the country should have a 're-energised, dedicated and capable intelligence gathering system to counter terror'. 'It should not be a set-up where people go to sleep after the news about a blast dies down.'

However, all the three experts were certain that jidhadist organisations were behind Wednesday's blast, which killed at least 11 people and injured more than 75. But it was too early to say which organisation or a combination of the outfits conducted the blast, they added.

Marwah said though it was too premature to verify the claim of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) owning responsibility for the blast, it certainly 'looked the handiwork of the jihadists, maybe with the help from extremists outside the country'.

About the HUJI claim, Marwah said: 'It is too premature to verify. In terrorism, nothing can be taken on face value and nothing can be ruled out.'

Tharakan said the initial needle of suspicion pointed to Indian Mujahideen (IM). 'The IM has a network in and around Delhi. It has been charge-sheeted for the 2008 serial blasts, the major terror strike in the capital before this,' he said. But the HUJI claim has to be trailed, he added.

To Sahni, the blast appeared to be a continuation of the blast in May outside the high court premises. The police had doubted the IM hand behind the May blast.

He felt the strike was 'nothing extra-ordinary' as it happened outside the earmarked security cordon area.

Tharakan said other angles - whether anyone with vested interests in some high-profile case or anyone having any scores to settle against the bench or the bar - in the two explosions also should be probed.