Gaps in security

The firing incident in Delhi’s Jama Masjid area on Sunday, with just a few days left for the start of the Commonwealth Games, was not serious, going by the usual level of damage  caused by terrorist strikes. There were no casualties and only two persons were injured. But the fact that it was foreigners who were targeted shows that the aim was to create a scare among Games tourists and participants. The import of the incident should neither be exaggerated nor underestimated but should be taken as a warning to the authorities who have promised the best security arrangements to be put in place for the Games. The firing shows that there may still be loopholes in the arrangements. The terrorists might even have been trying to test the preparedness of the authorities and to find out the gaps which they could make use of.

What is cause for concern is that the group that claimed responsibility for the incident, the Indian Mujahideen, which is connected with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, was on the radar of the intelligence agencies for long and its activities were supposed to be monitored. The area where the firing took place was under surveillance. The argument that terrorists can choose the time and place of their attack is not valid here because there was always the possibility of attacks in Delhi during the run-up to or the duration of the Games. The response of the security forces was also not very satisfactory after the attacks. The commando units did not reach the area in time and the search and cordon operations were not conducted effectively. Swamping Delhi with security personnel is not enough. There are closed circuit cameras all over Delhi but some of them are reported to be not working.

There were concerns among foreign participants about Delhi’s security preparedness. Sunday’s incident may have aggravated those concerns, though there is no drastic reaction to it. It is the responsibility of the Games authorities and the Central and Delhi governments to ensure that there are no further scares. The preparations for the Games as such are under a cloud because of  delays, poor workmanship and corruption charges. The biggest challenge, however, is about conducting the events efficiently and, most importantly, allowing the event to pass without any security-related mishap. That is why the Jama Masjid attack should not be underestimated.

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