The audacity of Ahmedabad’s attackers

They sent an email message (this time in good English) five minutes before setting off serial explosions, saying “stop us if you can”. And to underline their ruthlessness, the last two of their 16 bombs exploded in hospital campuses 40 minutes after the first one.

Most of the bombs were planted behind bicycles in tiffins contained in blue polythene bags while the bombs in the hospitals were placed in automobiles. The bombs were packed with timer devices and microprocessors. Preliminary reports suggest ammonium nitrate was used in the bombs.

Eyewitnesses said multiple bombs were planted within a short range, which went off within an interval of a few seconds. The idea was to attract people to the site with the first blast and then explode the other with more devastating effect. [TOI]

That both recent blasts were “low-intensity” perhaps suggests that moving RDX undetected across the country has become harder. Or perhaps unnecessary.

That’s because India is rather insensitive to the actual death toll. What the terrorists want to do is to make a political point: to terrorise ordinary people and send a message to political leaders. So “low-intensity” the blasts might well be, but in Bangalore and in Ahmedabad, they were used in a manner calculated to maximise the terror they caused.

Despite their audacity and their tactical cleverness, the terrorists who carried out these attacks won’t get too many marks in the strategy department. For internal security has become a national, aam aadmi issue. No political party that has its eyes on coming to power can duck the issue anymore.

9 thoughts on “The audacity of Ahmedabad’s attackers”

  1. That’s because India is rather insensitive to the actual death toll.

    I hadn’t thought of it that way but it makes total sense.

  2. As long as taking action is less costly than doing nothing, action won’t happen.

    And in this case, action means a lot of things – from getting the legal and enforcement infrastructure in place, investing in the intelligence and police services to political solidarity behind a zero-tolerance policy.

    The cost of doing nothing remains abysmally low in India. That may change as more bums go off in other cities every other day. I mean, if you were the mastermind behind this, why would you stop now? Keep the pot boiling but don’t let it boil over would be the calibrated strategy, IMO.

    And yes, too much to expect PMO to lose sleep over these matters. Whats a few deaths in a billion people land, eh? /Sarc off.

  3. >> For internal security has become a national, aam aadmi issue. No political party that has its eyes on coming to power can duck the issue anymore. >>

    Are you suggesting that this issue will not make a Yadav vote for Laloo, a Vanniar not vote for Ramdaoss, a upper OBC not vote for DMK, or a Christian vote for the BJP front, ad infinitum ? I dont think Laloo, Karunanidhi, YSR or anyone else is losing sleep over this blast.

    Across the vast expanse of this country, most votes are increasingly locked down to group interests. Neither this nor other big ticket issues like inflation is about to change that.

    This is an issue only among free agent voters, whose numbers do not add up.

    Let me add, I hope you are right and I am wrong !

  4. RC,

    I’m not suggesting that those group interests will change. Rather, that to the extent group interests are not inconsistent with robust internal security, a political formation that ducks addressing terrorism will do worse than one that does.

  5. “Despite their audacity and their tactical cleverness, the terrorists who carried out these attacks won’t get too many marks in the strategy department. For internal security has become a national, aam aadmi issue. No political party that has its eyes on coming to power can duck the issue anymore.”

    Like rc above, I hope you are right.

    Problem is that our measures have always been reactive. After Rajiv gandhi was killed with a ‘garland’ bomb, police disallowed garlands in meetings in Chennai. Now they will search bicycles for bombs and check for blue polythene bags. Terrorists are unlikely to adopt the same trick again. Our Intelligence must think through the range of possibilities and forewarn- which, sadly, doesn’t look likely.

  6. Hi Nitin,

    What do you think of the angle that the blasts were a snub to the NSA’s tough talking after Kabul?
    Fits well with their recent escalation tactics…

  7. Or more likely, the pressure by the US to “do more” has reached such levels that an increasingly hostile relations with India provides the required diversion/justification or inaction against Islamists.

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