LeT, JeM behind Parliament attack there was no intelligence failure: Advani
16 December 2001
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
NEW DELHI: The Government of India has refused to accept the charge that the December 13 suicide attack on Parliament House was the result of intelligence failure. ''There was no intelligence failure'', Minister for Home Affairs, Mr LK Advani, asserted in an interview. He, in fact, chose to emphasize that the events of December 13 marked a ''remarkable success'' for the security agencies. Mr Advani also emphasized that he had no doubt that the suicide squad’s game-plan was to get into Parliament at a time when ''there is maximum attendance between 11 am and noon''. His calculation: Had the attackers succeeded, it would have been a tragedy far more horrendous than the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington and far more catastrophic in consequence. Elaborating on it, the Home Minister said that prominent leaders of all political parties could have become ''victims of a massacre'', which could have devastated the world’s largest democracy. The nation, he maintained, would remain indebted to the Delhi Police, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Parliament’s Watch and Ward who played a magnificent role while preventing the terrorists from entering Parliament and liquidating them within half-an-hour. If one of the terrorists, Mr Advani said, had broken the security cordon, the resulting diasater would not only have spelt doom for over 250 members of Parliament and Ministers, but also for the country. India, he added, could in that situation very well have been plunged into an emergency, left floundering without its leaders. Asserting that the Government’s policy ''is not wrong'', the Home Minister lamented: ''Our society has become soft''. ''Its response to the grave challenge we are faced with is inadequate'', he observed. Mr Advani cited an instance in support of his observation: ''When the Indian Airlines plane was hijacked from Kathmandu, day after day we witnessed demonstrations outside the Prime Minister’s residence demanding the release of the terrorists in prison. In such situations, the Government cannot be totally unmindful of popular sentiments. But that, unfortunately, weakens the fight against terrorism''. The Home Minister, in this connection, made a pointed reference to the events that followed the September 11 attacks in America and said that he did not know of any country which opposed stringent laws against terrorism. ''However, what is happening here shows that the nature of our polity is a constraint when it comes to countering terrorism'', he pointed out. Mr Advani regretted: ''We have allowed ourselves to become a soft society and our Government, being a part of the same society, is also too soft. Even our handling of Jammu and Kashmir in the last 50 years has been wrong''. When asked if it was time for India to go in for hot pursuit, Mr Advani argued that the policy of hot pursuit ''is internationally acknowledged as legitimate''. ''But we did not resort to it even during the Kargil war'', he reiterated. Stating that the terrorist attack on Parliament House had inflicted a sense of outrage upon the entire country, Mr Advani revealed that the Government had information that the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) ''are involved in this attack''. He said that the Government of india has formally called upon Pakistan to take ''immediate'' action against these organisations. ''We have asked Pakistan to stop all financial aid to LeT and JeM'', he said and reiterated: ''Investigations have revealed that these two Pak- based organisations are responsible for Thursday’s attack. India’s diplomatic initiative in this direction also includes freezing of the financial assets and arrest of leaders of LeT and JeM forthwith''. Asked as to why India cannot prevent such attacks, Mr Advani said: ''Suicide squads are the terrorists’ new weapon. It is difficult to stop a suicide attack. Even Indira Gandhi could not be protected and fell prey to it. The only way out is to continue a sustained battle against terrorism and strike at its roots''.