Lame excuses

The serial bomb blasts in Patna on Sunday in which six people were killed and over 80 injured are the result of a major security lapse on the part of the police and the intelligence agencies.

The explosions took place at or near the venue of a major political rally addressed by the BJP’s presidential candidate Narendra Modi in which lakhs of people participated. So the damage and loss of lives could have been much higher. The usual excuse of a conspiracy, trotted out by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, does not absolve the state authorities of their responsibility. Every serial blast of this nature has behind it a conspiracy, into which much planning and co-ordination goes. It was for the authorities to look for it.

The argument that terrorists can choose their time and place of attack also does not hold water. The rally had been planned and announced many weeks ago. Even a presidential visit had taken place the previous day. It was for the law enforcement agencies to sanitise the entire  area and ensure that no untoward incident took place. Similarly, the statement that there was no security alert from intelligence agencies is also only an attempt to evade responsibility. The onus for ensuring that there is no breach of peace, especially during big gatherings whose schedules  are known in advance, is on the state government. Only a few weeks ago there were similar explosions in Bodh Gaya in the state which are still under investigation. No progress has been made in finding the culprits behind them. This should have made the security agencies more vigilant. Some persons have been rounded up after the Patna blasts and the names of suspect organisations are being mentioned. This had happened after the Bodh Gaya explosions; after other similar incidents in the past also.

The  fact that the blasts took place at a political event makes them all the more serious. The country is entering into an extended period of electoral campaigns for the state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha.  Large numbers of people will be mobilised during the campaigns and it is the job of the security  and law enforcement agencies at the Centre and  in the states to ensure that the lives of common people and leaders are safe. Parties and leaders should also take care that the electoral environment is not vitiated by irresponsible statements and mutual blame games.

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