Monday, September 20, 2010

Terrorist Try to Spread Fear But Cannot Wipe Games Spirit

In a strike clearly aimed at creating fear and uncertainty ahead of the Commonwealth Games, two motorcycle-borne assailants opened fire on a group of Taiwanese nationals outside Jama Masjid on Sunday morning. Two tourists were injured in the attack, triggering a clampdown by the Delhi government.

The timing of the attack the anniversary of the Batla House shootout and an email by Indian Mujahideen claiming responsibility, indicate that the planners had focused on sending a ‘message’ rather than inflicting huge damage. It pointed to the continuing strategy of terrorists of picking soft targets like foreign nationals at public places.

More than two hours after the shooting, a Maruti 800 parked close to the site mysteriously caught fire. Later, the bomb disposal squad found a pressure cooker fitted with a crude device, which could be an explosive or an inflammable substance, on the rear seat.

The two Taiwanese victims, Ze-Weiku (35) and Chiang Ko (38), were rushed to Lok Nayak Hospital.

Ze-Weiku had a miraculous escape as a bullet grazed his head while Chiang Ko was hit in the right abdomen. Despite surgery, he is still stated to be critical.

CCTVs didn’t work, removed Installed after 2006 Blasts, the Cameras Didn’t Function; Metal Detectors at Jama Masjid Too Are Faulty

Jama Masjid is located in a congested and sensitive area and should be top priority for security measures, but Sunday’s attack has exposed many lapses on part of the cops.

The historic monument which witnessed two blasts on April 14, 2006 no longer has the 20 CCTV cameras that were installed soon after that incident. The cameras were removed just 15 days ago since they had stopped functioning. The metal detectors installed at the gates are not working properly and the number of policemen deployed at the monument has also thinned down as most of the cops have been put on Commonwealth Games duty.

The two attackers on Sunday fired several times at the tourists in front of Gate No.3 and managed to escaped though the police station is located barely a few hundred metres away. Due to the heavy footfall of foreigners and locals, cops says they find it impossible to scan each and every individual. The traffic congestion and narrow lanes near the mosque make it more vulnerable to such attacks.

After the incident on Sunday, the cops were seen removing vendors from the road, but the damage was already done.

The Shahi Imam of the mosque, Ahmed Bukhari, claimed that the CCTV cameras were installed after ‘‘Delhi Police asked Delhi the wakf board to step up security. Despite repeated requests to the wakf board to make the cameras work, nothing happened. Finally, we got them removed 15 days ago and sent them back to the board,’’ claimed the Imam.

Police said most of the doorframe metal detectors were not working and hence hand-held detectors were used. ‘‘On rush days, it is impossible to check each and every visitor. We have a strong police presence in and around the mosque and all the gates are manned by policemen round the clock,’’ said a police officer.

Meanwhile, the mosque authorities claimed they have been requesting the Union home ministry orally and in writing to increase security measures at Jama Masjid. The Shahi Imam had in May this year written to home minister P Chidambaram seeking upgrading of security at the mosque. He had suggested measures like installation of CCTV cameras and deployment of CRPF personnel. Bukhari said highly trained personnel were needed to man Jama Masjid as it had been targeted by terrorists in 2006.

Syed Yahya Bukhari, the Imam’s younger brother and president of Jama Masjid United Forum, claimed the metal detectors were only for show and could be easily bypassed by people entering the mosque as the police personnel deployed there were not present always. ‘‘Even if some higher authority comes to check whether security measures are in place, the personnel are tipped in advance and they are there on duty when the checking takes place. This doesn’t help anybody,’’ he said.


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