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Asia

Delhi Police in Gunbattle with Suspected Terrorists

Two suspected terrorists were killed and one was arrested while two managed to escape as gunshots silenced the bustle of Jamia Nagar, a congested Muslim majority locality in south Delhi on Friday. Though police said the mastermind of the serial blasts on 13 September that rocked Delhi had been killed, it is yet to uncover the full conspiracy behind the blasts and there are not many takers for the police version.

A resident looks on as police stand guard near the site of the gunbattle

A resident looks on as police stand guard near the site of the gunbattle

A special police unit killed two suspected terrorists in the capital after storming into a house where five terrorists were reportedly holed up.

As a loudspeaker from a nearby mosque issued appeals for calm and thousands of security personnel trawled the area, people spilled out into the streets shouting anti-police slogans, alleging that the bodies had been planted in the fourth floor apartment for the "fake encounter".

S.A.R. Geelani, a Delhi University lecturer who was acquitted after being held in the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, demanded a judicial probe into the shootout. "People have been harrassed in this area for a long time", he said. "Whenever something happens this is the first target, being a Muslim area. They have a history of such encounters. One has to see."

Ever since the Delhi blasts, the government has been under pressure from the opposition parties and even by its own cabinet ministers to bring in a tough terror law replacing the current one.

Cases are not resolved

According to official figures nearly 600 people have been killed in 12 well-coordinated terrorist attacks across India since the 2005 bombings in the national capital, but no case has been resolved and there has been no conviction.

As in the many previous deadly blasts across India there is much speculation about the real masterminds behind the bombings. In the wake of the Delhi blasts and before that the blasts in Gujarat in August the intelligence agencies blamed the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) or what is claimed to be its new clone, the Indian Mujahideen.

Supreme Court lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan, who defended some of the accused in the attack on parliament in 2001 and saved an accused from death row, said: "There is a tribunal which has found that the government was unable to substantiate the allegations against SIMI. It is the government's own tribunal!" Trials took long and ended with acquittals, she added. "The police picks up vulnerable targets rather than going after the real culprits. And in fact a terror law will aid them in this abdication of investigative responsibility."

Disputed policy

Time and again Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has lamented that core policing was wanting in the country and has spoken of the need to fill the many vacancies in the police force if India is to face up to the new age terror. He has also stressed the importance of sprucing up the intelligence machinery by proper staffing - the main weakness cited by many security experts.

Ramakrishnan argued new terror laws were not the right answer.

"No law can prevent terror attacks", she argued. "Laws come into operation only after someone has been arrested and the trial process or prosecution process begins. At that point in time you can have the ordinary law. How can you prevent an attack by a law through injunction?"

For now the government is mulling over some coherence in the 'national response' to terrorism and only then can protocols and strategies be devised for an appropriate response.

  • Date 19.09.2008
  • Author Murali Krishnan (New Delhi) 19/09/08
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LrwA
  • Date 19.09.2008
  • Author Murali Krishnan (New Delhi) 19/09/08
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LrwA