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Hyderabad blasts: Why the challenge is to stand united and defeat terror

Strictly from a terrorist's point of view, Dilsukhnagar was a very apt choice as a target. For those unfamiliar with Hyderabad's geography, Dilsukhnagar is a busy area located in the south-east part of the city which further leads to the National Highway connecting to Vijayawada. As a result, the area is like mini-Mumbai, with a huge floating population coming in from localities outside Hyderabad to work in the city. People are perpetually in a hurry to get to work in the morning and to get back home in the evening. Several eateries do roaring business and whichever terror group decided to strike in Dilsukhnagar, had done its homework well. There is a sprawling fruit market and several hostels in the vicinity and making a getaway would be easy.

Contrast this with the preparedness of the police establishment. Police, in many other cities like Bangalore and Nanded, had received an `Be alert' input post the Afzal Guru hanging inside Tihar Jail, which given its very non-specific nature, was not taken with the seriousness it deserved.

 Hyderabad blasts: Why the challenge is to stand united and defeat terror

People gather at the blast site in Hyderabad. AP

Dilsukhnagar also has a history with bomb blasts. In November 2002, a scooter bomb blast near the Saibaba temple killed two people. The city had seen three strikes in 2007 - the Mecca Masjid blast in May that killed nine people (five more persons were killed in the police firing that followed) and the twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat in August that killed 42 people. Thursday evening terror attack shattered the peace Hyderabad has seen for nearly six years now. According to reports at the time of writing, 12 people were killed and 78 injured in the twin blasts.

The twin blasts - the first one at 7:01 pm and the second one at 7:06 pm - took everyone by surprise. The terrorists had planted the bombs on bicycles, parked about 150 metres from each other and close to an eatery and a bus stop near cinema theatres to create maximum impact. Three hours after the blast, a senior police officer told Firstpost that they "are groping in the dark".

The situation immediately after the twin blasts wasn't easy for the police. The commotion in the area meant it was a herculean task shifting the injured to the nearby hospitals. There was blood all over, people writhing in pain, crying. There were glass pieces and slippers strewn around and curious onlookers and the media teams did not make it any easier. With cellphones jammed, people were travelling to Dilsukhnagar to find out about their near and dear ones. Politicians who thronged the blast site with their slogan-shouting supporters only meant the police became more engrossed in ensuring their security and not in keeping the area sterile.

Police officials along with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) now have to track the calls that would have been made in and out of Hyderabad prior to the blast. That sleeper cells have existed in pockets of Hyderabad as well as neighbouring districts like Nalgonda is a well-known fact and the sleuths will have to dig deep to find which of those connections were activated in the recent past.

The police is also nervous about having lost significant forensic evidence in the melee that followed the blasts. This evidence will be critical in pointing to the kind of bomb that was assembled which would further help in identifying the terror group.

Conspiracy theories are pointing to how the terrorists would have wanted to take advantage of the communal tension created as a result of the hate speeches delivered by MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi and VHP leader Pravin Togadia in the last two months and create more fissures. The challenge for Hyderabad now is to stand up united to defeat those designs of the terrorists.

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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2013 07:23:45 IST