Why did terrorists carry out attacks in Jaipur yesterday?
1. It’s just part of a long series. They struck when they were ready. Tactically, they set the bombs off on a day and at a time when they would do maximum damage. The venues were chosen to have another go at the “communal fabric”. The weakness of this argument is that by now, everyone knows that they are attempting to spark the communal tinder, and hence, are unlikely to allow it to spark.
2. Like B Raman has argued, the bombing was related to the tenth anniversary of Pokhran-II. That’s why they chose Rajasthan state. This was their way of sending a message that “you might have nukes, but you can’t stop us”. Such a message would be strategically pointless, because everyone knows that. Just like everyone knows that nuclear weapons have not stopped Naxalites, rapists, snatch thieves or drug smugglers either.
3. The bombing is related to the coming round of foreign minister level talks between India and Pakistan, scheduled for next week. It is aimed at disrupting the ‘peace process’. This works to the Pakistan’s disadvantage though, putting Islamabad on the defensive. (Going one level deeper, this might be the ISI’s way to put pressure on the uppity civilian government). But terrorists should surely know that India is unlikely to call off the talks, the prevailing mantra being “we won’t let terrorists disrupt the peace process”.
4. The bombing is related to elections in India. Al Qaeda, for instance, did this at Madrid. But the blasts are too far away from any election to make an electoral difference.
5. It’s back to the bad old days of Pakistan: border firing, infiltration in Jammu & Kashmir, escalation of jihad elsewhere in India. The new civilian government is the good cop and has plausible deniability, and the ISI/Army establishment is the bad cop. It’s a plausible explanation, but it’s a bit too early for this routine to start. One possible explanation is that Pervez Musharraf is demonstrating his usefulness. And he needs to demonstrate his usefulness to Washington for reasons of job security.
6. From an entirely different angle: they were meant to disrupt Indian Premier League cricket. It has already spooked Shane Warne, who plays for Rajasthan, was hundreds of miles away in Goa when the bombings occurred, but is considering the “real option of getting on the plane and getting out of here”.
7. SIMI and its related outfits were demonstrating that despite recent arrests of some of their leading operatives, their organisation and capabilities are intact.
Update: Praveen Swami’s report supports hypothesis five