Delhi shopping areas
hit by bombs
Report, 13 September 2008
The aftermath of the blasts in Delhi
Five bombs have ripped through busy shopping areas of India's
capital, Delhi, within minutes of each other, killing at least 20
people, police say.
The explosions, which also injured about 90 people, are not thought
to have been very powerful but happened in crowded areas.
Four unexploded bombs were also found and defused, police said.
More than 400 people have died since October 2005 in bomb attacks on
Indian cities such as Ahmedabad and Bangalore.
India has blamed Islamist militant groups for these previous
CNN-IBN, a local TV news channel, said it had received an e-mail
before the blasts from a group calling itself the "Indian
"Do whatever you can. Stop us if you can," the e-mail reportedly
said. The same group has claimed responsibility for two other recent
bombing attacks. The Indian government has put the security agencies
on high alert. Pakistan has joined in official Indian condemnation
of the attacks.
Two bombs are believed to have been planted in dustbins metres away
from each other in the central shopping district of Connaught Place.
Police believe that at least three other devices were planted at
busy markets in the Karol Bagh area, on the Barakhamba Road and in
the Greater Kailash area. Chanchal Kumar helped carry several
casualties to ambulances after witnessing one of the explosions,
outside a metro station.
"Around 1830 we heard a very loud noise, then we saw people running
all over the place," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.
"There were about 100-200 people around this place." Gulab
Singh, an underground train guard, saw an explosion in Greater
Kailash. "I was stepping out for a cup of tea when everything turned
black in front of me," he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
"Then everyone started running."
Television pictures show scenes of chaos at the blast scenes. Crowds
milled around mangled vehicles, with debris and blood scattered
across the streets.
The Mayor of Delhi, Arti Mehra, said the city would not be
intimidated by the "cowardly" attacks. "They want to break the
spirit of Delhi," he told reporters. "They have tried this in other
places before and they have not succeeded and they will not succeed
here. They will not scare us."
Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, "strongly condemned" the
bomb attacks, expressing "shock and grief over the loss of precious
After bombings in Jaipur and Bangalore, a group calling itself the
Indian Mujahideen also claimed responsibility.
While it is too early to say exactly what caused Saturday's blasts
in Delhi, they appear similar to the earlier attacks. The earlier
attacks involved multiple small devices hidden in small boxes or
bags and aimed at soft targets such as crowded markets, analysts
say. The devices contained shrapnel such as nuts, bolt and ball
bearings while the explosives used were improvised. Islamic
militants in Kashmir have tended to use military-grade explosives.
intelligence gropes in the dark
BBC News, Calcutta 29 July 2008
When Ahmedabad was hit by a series of explosions on Saturday, one
newspaper vendor in the city told another - "Kam ho gaya" (the job
is done) . That exchange sounded like a communication between the
bombers, promising an intelligence-led breakthrough. But it proved
to be a red herring - the newspaper vendors had only rejoiced
because after the blasts they expected the sale of their evening
papers to zoom. Barring this one telephone call, there is nothing
else that could provide intelligence with a clue to the explosions
Intelligence officials say perhaps this is because the bombers are
no more speaking for long periods before and after the explosions.
After his arrest last year, Jalaluddin alias Babubhai - the "India
operations commander" of the Bangladesh-based militant group Huji -
revealed that he had instructed his jihadis (holy warriors) to
"minimise telephone or internet communication" during operations.
"India's technical intelligence capability has developed with help
from the US and local scientific knowhow, so we told our brothers to
use personal couriers," a senior Intelligence Bureau (IB) official
quoted Jalaluddin as saying.
Since the serial blasts in the southern city of Hyderabad last
August, India's intelligence has failed to pick up leads.
"That explains the complete dearth of intelligence on the groups
responsible for this year's serial explosions in Jaipur, Bangalore
and Ahmedabad. Our intelligence has become too dependent on
technology," says BB Nandi, one of India's best known spymasters.
There are very few Muslims in the Indian intelligence agencies
"We are making the same mistakes that Western intelligence agencies
made by pinning too much hope on technology. That's important, but
there's no substitute for a good agent in the right place," Mr Nandi
While Western intelligence agencies like the CIA and MI-6 are trying
to augment human intelligence capabilities after a string of
failures such as the 9/11 attacks in the US, Indian intelligence is
not learning from their mistakes.
Intelligence officials say that Pakistan and Bangladesh-based
Islamic militant groups have increasingly made their Indian units
autonomous - in recruitment, training, funding and operations - so
that nothing can be traced back to the patron nations.
"The serial bombings in Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad prove that
Pakistan's ISI has successfully Indianised the jihad by creating
Indian equivalents of Lashkar-e-Toiba or Huji," says B Raman,
another former spymaster specialising in Islamic militant groups.
"They still provide general direction, so you have a series of
explosions in India immediately after the bombing of the Indian
embassy in Kabul and the stepped up hostilities in Kashmir," he
says. "But the surrogates are largely independent now in choosing
targets or gathering explosives."
And why can't India's intelligence agencies penetrate these
home-grown Islamic militant groups if they are run and led by Indian
Muslims with roots in India?
The Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is responsible for domestic and
counter-intelligence, is supposed to co-ordinate the fight against
militancy through its multi-agency co-ordination.
But the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), which is responsible for
external intelligence, has a major role in checking the foreign
sources of militancy.
Mr Modi has called for the creation of a better intelligence agency
"The real bane of Indian intelligence is that it is largely run by
police officials, most of whom serve on deputation from states and
are floating in and out of the IB and other federal intelligence
wings. They lack both the commitment and the expertise," says
retired IB official Ashok Debbarma.
Strangely, the lower echelons of IB and RAW are direct recruits,
trained specifically for intelligence. But they lack the motivation
because they can rarely rise to senior positions.
"None of the world's best intelligence agencies are run by
policemen. They are all run by career intelligence officers. It is
only in India that the Indian Police Service (IPS) monopolises most
senior intelligence positions," Mr Debbarma said.
He said some police officials have done well in IB and RAW but most
have failed in a fast changing world. "The best brains go to
foreign service and administrative service and only those at the
bottom of the heap are recruited into the police service," Mr
Interestingly, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has demanded the
creation of an Indian intelligence service that, he says, should
recruit the best available talent and deploy them in positions that
fit their special talent. "We should get the best brains for
intelligence, but we only get rejects now," Mr Modi said after the
Many say Indian intelligence is losing its fight against Islamic
militancy because the agencies do not recruit enough Muslims. "There
are very few Muslims in Indian intelligence, only a few in the state
police special branches and really a handful in the federal
agencies. How can we plant agents amongst jihadis unless we have
Muslim officers?" asks a former IB official who does not wish to be
The IB is also woefully short of officers - against a sanctioned
strength of 250 officers, only 100 places have been filled up. "Most
IPS officers use the IB as a transit point. They come here only when
they don't get a good posting in their state cadre," says retired IB
official Subir Dutta.
End of India’s Nuclear
Times - Ravi Velloor 12 September 2008
THIRTY FOUR years ago, after India under the late Indira Gandhi
conducted its first nuclear test, euphemistically called Peaceful
Nuclear Explosion, the US corralled the world’s nuclear powers and
their suppliers under an outfit called the Nuclear Suppliers Group
The NSG’s mandate was to ensure that nuclear weapons did not spread
to those that didn’t have it at the time. It recognised just five
nations as nuclear weapons states.
The rest who wanted access to nuclear equipment and supplies would
need to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Last week, using the heavy muscle that only the US can employ,
Washington railroaded a skeptical NSG to grant a special waiver for
India, which is neither an NPT signatory nor a party to the CTBT.
While the NSG nations will still not give India enrichment and
reprocessing technology, pretty much all else is available to it.
What is more, the NSG describes India as a state with 'advanced
nuclear technology' - a neat way of saying it is a nuclear weapons
state without actually saying so.
Little surprise that Indians celebrated the milestone it had
crossed. The deal is a huge victory for PM Manmohan Singh, who put
his job on the line to ensure that Indian parliament backed his
negotiations with the US.
In the process, the Left groups that gave him critical backing,
pulled their parliamentary support, leaving him to scramble to make
alternate political side deals. Such is the euphoria in this country
over the NSG waiver, that parties critical of the India-US accord
that helped bring it about, have been silenced.
The BJP, which began the process of building new bridges with the
US, is sulking. The Left groups have little to say.
The extent Washington has gone to pamper India is an indication of
how much the relationship between the two, once on opposite sides of
the Cold War, has traveled lately.
Some of this is from a common dread of a rising China. But there is
also recognition of a host of other mutual interests: India’s
democracy, the attraction of its billion-plus market, a nation that
is comfortable with English and sends the most number of foreign
students to the US, the most prosperous immigrant community in the
States - the list is endless.
More than 60,000 Americans work in India today. The largest US
embassy in the world is its mission in New Delhi, with more than 550
expatriate Americans supported by 2,500 local staff. Indian
back-office companies service American banks, mortgage issuers and
Interestingly, it wasn’t just the Americans: the Russians and French
were just as keen to get India the waiver. Whatever objections China
may have had, including its resentment at being rushed to approve
the waiver, were brushed aside.
The US economy may be on its knees, but it is the dominant global
power and can still get its way.
India’s National Security Adviser has told us that two things the US
will not give India are reprocessing and enrichment technologies. At
least, that is the case for now.
But given the way the US-India strategic relationship is developing,
who knows what is to come a year or two down the line.