Indians live in the most troubled neighbourhood in the world, union home minister P Chidambaram said on a day the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) took over investigation of the three near-simultaneous blasts that claimed 17 lives and injured 131 others in Mumbai. “All cities in India are vulnerable to attack. Pakistan-Afghanistan is the epicentre of terror,” Chidambaram added.
Admitting that there were no intelligence inputs at the national or state level on the blasts, he said all groups involved in terror activities within and outside the country were ‘on the radar’. “We do not want to proceed with any kind of pre-supposition and speculation. All angles will be explored and leads followed without any pre-determination of cause,” Chidambaram, addressing the media at the state guest house Sahyadri, said.
While he confirmed that ammonium nitrate had been used, with a timer device, to trigger the blasts, Union home secretary RK Singh did not rule out the involvement of a suicide bomber. “The NSG DG has informed that a body with circuit has been found from one of the sites. We are not ruling out anything,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
Rakesh Maria, additional director general of the Maharashtra ATS said the squad with work closely with the crime branch and Central agencies to bring the perpetrators of Wednesday’s attack to book. Three FIRs have been registered at police stations near the blast sites, and close to a dozen teams of police officers drawn from the ATS and the crime branch have been formed to look into the case, he said.
In Bhubaneswar, Rahul Gandhi expressed condolences for family members of blast victims and was reported by agencies as saying that it was difficult to stop every single terror attack in the country. He said even US forces in Afghanistan had become a victim of terror attacks.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati criticised Rahul for his comments, saying they were “unfortunate and irresponsible” and could demoralise people. Comparing the Mumbai blasts with the situation in Afghanisation was improper, she said. L K Advani, who visited the blast sites and those injured in hospitals, called the explosions a “policy failure” and said no talks should be held with Pakistan until it dismantled the infrastructure of terror.