Rise in bomb blasts alarming

India witnessed a sharp surge in bomb blast incidents last year. According to figures collated by the National Security Guard’s National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC), there were 406 bomb blasts in 2016, of which 337 were triggered by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) while the rest were caused by grenades or ammunition shells. The number of IED blasts increased from 190 in 2014 to 268 in 2015. Thus, IED blasts have been increasing in the country for three years in a row, with the past year registering a 26% increase. There was an increase in blast-related casualties, too, last year. India topped the world with regard to the number of IED blasts incidents. Countries like Afghanistan and Iraq may be more notorious as war zones but it is India that witnessed more IED blasts than them last year. Indeed, Iraq stood a distant second with 221 IED blasts last year while Pakistan and Afghanistan followed with 161 and 132 blasts, respectively. As in India, Iraq and Afghanistan, too, saw an increase in blast incidents between 2015-2016, while this figure fell in Pakistan.

Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha witnessed the largest number of blasts in 2016, with Chhattisgarh topping the list with 60 blasts. The number of blasts in these five states doubled last year. In Kerala, for instance, the number of blasts rose from six to 33 in the 2015-16 period. Karnataka, witnessed three blasts in 2016, up from one the previous year. The data reveals that explosive devices figure in a big way in Maoist strategy. There were 159 blasts in areas hit by Maoist violence, while the Northeast followed with 59. While Jammu and Kashmir stood third with regard to the number of incidents, it registered a sharp increase in blast cases last year – a whopping 121% increase. The NBDC data reveals that most of these blasts took place after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

The NBDC data provides useful pointers to the nature of violence being perpetrated by non-state actors, their preferred targets, etc. Militants often claim that their fight is with the state and that it is the security forces that they are targeting. Blast figures for India and the world indicate that this isn’t so. Most blasts targeted the public. It was soft targets that militants prefer, indicating that they have few qualms about killing the very people they claim to represent. Given the surge in IED blasts, the government needs to
create public awareness especially in Maoist areas about identification of explosive devices and the importance of reporting these to authorities immediately. With timely information, explosive devices can be defused before they cause damage and result in casualties.

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