Friday, July 15, 2011

No knee-jerk reactions

This time round, speculation held in check

After the Wednesday serial blasts in Mumbai, everyone – the police, the government, the parties and the media – held themselves back. No one was pointing the finger at Al Qaeda, the ISI, LeT and other groups across the border, nor even at groups like Indian Mujahideen (IM) which had been the case everytime a terror attack occurred in the last decade. On Wednesday and on Thursday, there was no feverish debate, intelligent speculation about the invisible hand that lay at the back of the explosions at the Opera House, in Zaveri Bazar and at the Kabutar Khana in south Mumbai.

Home minister P.Chidambaram's appeal to the media on Thursday morning in Mumbai not to speculate was in tune with what everyone, including the media, was thinking. The media were not looking out for the usual suspects, and the experts just did not oblige by placing their penny's worth of thoughts on record on what could be the case. They just kept away from the media. Senior BJP leader L.K.Advani had made critical references to keeping talks with Pakistan on. But that was all. Flamboyant Farooq Abdullah, union minister for non-conventional energy, confined himself to making rhetorical references to those opposed to peace between India and Pakistan. Minister for external affairs S.M.Krishna said something without ruffling feathers anywhere. The United States has tut-tutted alright.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi could have avoided the 99 per cent of terror attempts being foiled, and Chidambaram could have avoided saying that there has been no terror attack for 31 months after 26/11. The rationalisations sound hollow and weak at all times, especially after a terror attack.

It is not that there are no groups involved in the explosions and that there is no diabolical plan behind it all. The painful work of picking up clues and following their trail is on. The invesitgation agencies are doing their work, but this time quietly. There are hints here and there and there is a vague hint of the hand of Indian Mujahideen (IM), but no one is blaring it out aloud. They want to confirm it before they can declare it. There are also no firm conclusions on the explosives used – ammonium nitrate, RDX or TNT.

The usual pattern on earlier occasions in the immediate aftermath of terror attacks has been to name the probable suspect and follow the trail, which led nowhere in the following weeks and months. That has not happened this time round.

No group has claimed credit so far for the blasts. It might seem that it will make investigation that much more difficult. It does not. The intelligence agencies will have to work it out on their own and it is better that way. The sleuths will be focused and careful in picking up the clues and following them.

There have been no knee-jerk reactions. It should remain that way. Is this any solace to Mumbaikars? It is not.

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