A bomb placed in a briefcase exploded at the Delhi High Court on Wednesday morning, killing 11 people and injuring over 70. Now, NDTV has learnt that investigators have had a breakthrough with regard to the email purportedly written by Bangladesh-based terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HuJI) claiming responsibility for the blast.
Sources say investigators have traced the email to Kishtwar region of Jammu and Kashmir. The National investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the blast, is trying to establish IP address used to send the email. Earlier attacks by HuJI were linked to Jammu and Kashmir.
The NIA says it is taking the email seriously.
An email received by different media organisations including NDTV said that the Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HuJI) takes responsibility for the blast. HuJI is a Bangladesh-based terrorist group. “HuJI is a lethal group… we take the mail very seriously,” said NIA Chief SC Sinha. The email states, “We owe the responsibility of today’s blasts at High Court Delhi… our demand is that Afzal Guru’s death sentence should be repealed immediately else we would target major high courts and the Supreme Court of India.”
Afzal Guru has been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for his role in the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. His mercy petition that asks for his sentence to be commuted to life is pending with President Pratibha Patil. The Home Ministry has reportedly recommended that it be rejected.
The explosion took place on Wednesday in the reception area at Gate No 5, where hundreds of people had gathered to collect passes needed to enter the courthouse. The bomb was so powerful that it drove a huge crater into the ground. Chaos reigned as emergency services tried to get in to help a narrow lane leading to the blast site along with construction work, hampering their work.
Soon, the police released two sketches of the terrorist who eyewitnesses say placed the bomb. But the details are extremely vague. In fact, according to the police, the man could be between 25 to 50 years old, light-skinned, bearded, and thin or stout. (See sketches of the suspect)
The explosion took place at 10.15 am – “rush hour” for the courthouse which usually starts hearings at 10.30 am. (Watch) On Wednesday, Public Interest Litigations (PIL) are heard in the High Court, drawing larger than usual crowds. In the seconds after the blast, lawyers and litigants were seen running for help, their blood-soaked clothes clinging to them. “I heard a loud noise and smoke coming out following by cries of people,” said Narendra Kumar Singh, a guard at a construction site outside the court.
Two kilos of explosives were used in the bomb, said UK Bansal, Special Secretary in the Home Ministry, adding that ammonium nitrate was used; so was high-grade PETN which is an extremely powerful explosive which can cause considerable damaged even if used in small quantities. (Read: What is PETN; why is it deadly?)
Amid the grief, there is anger as the blame game began over the shocking story of key lapses. A minor explosion had taken place at almost the same spot outside the Delhi High Court in May, but it did not cause any injury. Intelligence agencies now say this was a dry run or rehearsal for today. (First pics of the blast)
The incident in May had underscored the need for security cameras. Yet, security wasn’t increased. No CCTV cameras have been installed outside court’s nine different gates.
The police said the proposal to install security cameras was stuck with court officials. But the head of the Delhi Bar Association, Rakesh Tiku, said “The High Court has even written to Delhi Police for installation of CCTV cameras at all gates.” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said, “We will have to wait for the investigation to tell us exactly who is at fault over the CCTVs.”
The Public Works Department (PWD), which is the agency to install the cameras, says they have got any plan or instructions to do so. Hours after the blast, the Chief Justice of India went and reviewed security. Urgent promises and assurances are now being made that the cameras will be place within a week.
Even more bizarrely, two hours after the blast, Home Minister P Chidambaram addressed Parliament and revealed that “Intelligence pertaining to threats emanating from certain groups was shared with Delhi Police in July, 2011.”
Ironically, the Delhi police reports to the Ministry of Home headed by Mr Chidambaram himself.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, currently in Bangladesh on an official visit, described the attack as “a cowardly act of a terrorist nature.” He added, “We will deal with it… we will never succumb to the pressure of terrorism… this is a long war.” (Read)
The Opposition BJP said the war against terror needs a combined front across party lines, but was severe in its indictment of the government. Sushma Swaraj who visited the High Court said the government’s lethargy had been exposed by the fact that the High Court has been attacked twice – and there are still no security cameras. Arun Jaitley said, “Not generating intelligence is failure of intelligence.”
There was no shortage of political stopovers at the court. Mr Chidambaram visited the site of the blast; so did Ms Swaraj, senior BJP leader LK Advani and the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, who had been heckled when he visited Ram Manohar Lohia hospital where some of those injured are being treated. While Parliament was adjourned for the day, by 2 pm, the High Court was back to work to signal that it remains strong despite today’s attack. (Watch: Crowd heckles Rahul Gandhi outside hospital)
The NIA and the National Security Guard (NSG) will lead the investigation, but will Wednesday’s strike simply add to a long list of unsolved terror cases?
Here are the emergency helpline numbers:
RML hospital: 011-23348200, 23404446, 23743769, 23404478
Safdarjung Hospital Helpline: 011- 26707444