Pragmatic | It is about our internal security

On the blast in an Israeli Embassy car

A blast in an Israeli Embassy car in Delhi left four injured, including a woman employee of the Embassy. Indian External Affairs minister, Mr SM Krishna issued a statement which became a butt of jokes on social media. What else do you expect from a statement which includes such well-worn cliches:

India very strongly condemns such incidents and it is going to be fully investigated and the culprits will be brought to justice at the earliest.[MEA]

Israeli Prime Minister was quick to blame the attack on Iran and its proxy Hezbollah. Iranian Ambassador to India has denied the charge. Delhi Police, basing its preliminary finding on an eye-witness account, suggests that a sticky bomb was used by motorcyclists on the car. With a cocktail of Middle-east politics, terror and shrill television coverage, conspiracy theorists are having a field day.

If we cut through the haze of speculation, there are only two established facts so far. One, there was an explosion in a car carrying an Israeli embassy employee in New Delhi. Two, Israeli Prime Minister has blamed it on Hezbollah and Iran. Anything else beyond this has not been fully established yet.

While India’s foreign ministry handles the diplomatic challenge, it is incumbent upon the Home Ministry to look at this very closely and draw the right lessons. The incident happened in a high-security area, barely 500 metres away from the Prime Minister’s residence. The motorcyclists, if that eye-witness account is true, were able to get away easily. No footage or picture of them has been released so far. It is doubtful if the National Counter-Terrorism Centre which is being inaugurated on March 01st would have helped had it been in place today.

Moreover, such an attack would not have been possible without some assets on ground. It could not have been attempted by people flown in from another country for a day and flown out the next day, after the attack. Reconnaissance over many weeks would have been needed to establish the pattern of the employee who went to pick his child from school. The route and the timing would have thus been established beyond doubt. Rehearsals and dry-runs would also have been carried out by the terrorists.

This points to a need for logistic and related support from some local elements, who could have either been hired or provided by some other terror groups. Unearthing that support base should be the foremost priority of our security agencies. But if such an attack was carried out without any local support, it should be even more worrying for our security agencies. Because it would mean that foreign agents can come in with explosives, operate in a high-security VIP area in Delhi with impunity and escape unscathed. That scenario is far more scarier than some local criminals being used to execute the terror strike.

Forget Iran, Hezbollah, Israel and diplomacy, the fact that Delhi was selected by someone to mount a strike on an Israeli diplomat should bother us the most. It is a shameful reflection of our internal security vulnerabilities and reputation. Fixing these weaknesses, which is a continuous process of cat-and-mouse, should be our top-most priority today. The rest can wait for the moment.