A race against bombs

It is now just a matter of time and luck either the police reach there first or the hidden bombs go off. Chennai has been lucky last three times around, in just two weeks, when the police ‘discovered’ huge caches of explosives running into several kilograms, just in time. The continuing hauls prove that the authorities had been grossly inaccurate in their estimates of the quantity that was believed to have been smuggled in. And there is no knowing how inaccurate those estimates are. It appears to be bad time for predictions of any sort.

As expected, the CB-CID probe has squarely placed the guilt at the doorstep of the banned Al-Umma and its chief for masterminding the Kovai blasts. The DGP has also elaborated the motive and the method adopted by them in carrying out their heinous designs, all of which are, once again on predictable lines. Just that the police failed to predict them, much earlier as they had slipped into a feigned sleep. According to the DGP, the preparation for the onslaught by the Al-Umma began as early as in December of 1997, in the immediate aftermath of the Kovai riots in November. The multiple blasts that rocked three trains on 6th of December was the beginning of the violent reprisal by the terrorists. It is quite clear that had the police pursued the leads on the ‘motivation and methods’, which are being touted now, then itself as they were quite apparent at that time they would have certainly stumbled upon the very same evidences that they parade now.

Only that the Kovai blasts and the further inflow of explosives into Chennai could have been averted. TV viewers would vouch for the fact that that was the time when Al-Umma chief Batcha was at his eloquent best on virtually all the channels, including the Sun TV which is owned by the CM’s family and functions from the Arivalayam. It was also the period when the other banned outfit, Jihad Committee openly distributed knives to its members for ‘self defence’. The leaders and important members of these organisations were very much in limelight, strutting around the State like paragons of virtues right under the watchful and acquiescent eyes of the authorities. As we have been repeatedly crying ourselves hoarse in these columns for quite some time now, there was, is and will ever be something about DMK governments that emboldens such elements as those mentioned above, not to speak of the LTTE, to feel free and comfortable. Blame it on ethnic affinity or a traditional hatred for a particular community or even an incurable tendency to pamper to the underside of the world, but the consistency is at the same time telling and alarming.

The present efforts on a war footing to unearth all the hidden stuff is a classic case of locking the stable doors after the horses have bolted. This is the minimum the government could do as a penance for the sin of opening the floodgates and then keeping them open for an unduly long time that the militants could establish themselves firmly in the State. But the moot point is that should the Centre, which is now in the control of a party whose leader might have been the target in Kovai, should continue to rely on the State administration to solve the mystery of the missing bombs and expect it to be repentant and behave in future. Such misplaced optimism is not worth the risk. After all, as we have said earlier, every haul is a grim reminder of a monumental sleep and slip, throughout the end of last year and early this year, when the ruling party, under the intoxication of secularism and the pretext of electoral expediency had deliberately kept its hands off known habitual offenders.

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Jawahar T R