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RDX stink in explosions, after ten years

Mumbai, Aug. 27: The bombings at boomtime have brought more bad news for Mumbai. RDX has made a re-entry after a decade and insiders at the highest levels say police intelligence units are in disarray.

Forensic reports today confirmed that large quantities of RDX had been used in Monday’s blasts which killed 52 people, mostly tourists, in front of the Gateway of India and shoppers and passers-by at Zaveri Bazaar.

RDX, not found in the five blasts that have rattled the city since last December, was used 10 years after it wreaked havoc during the 1993 serial blasts that killed 250 people and wounded close to 700.

The RDX, forensic experts said, was kept in the boot of the taxis that blew up at the Gateway and the bazaar. The taxi driver who drove the family reported to be behind the blasts has told police he saw one of them putting a bag in the boot. The taxi exploded moments later.

But more than the RDX, what is scaring residents is the apparent breakdown of police intelligence. Senior police officers who had served at the top have openly said that working with Special Branch-I,which collects intelligence on subversive activities, is treated like a “punishment posting and dumping yard”.

Ruing the lack of good officers and facilities, former super cop Julio Ribeiro and ex-Mumbai police chief M.. Singh said the SB-I was ill-equipped and lacked good officers. Sources revealed that “unwanted” policemen were shunted into SB-I and many bought their way out of it.

“The reason is simple,” a police officer said. “In the intelligence units, there is no way you can make money. The other departments are all about money- making. Pay for a post and get back your investment ten fold.”

One instance of SB-I being a dumpyard is the transfer earlier this year of Abdul Razzak Patel, an assistant commissioner of police alleged to have links with the underworld. Another policeman, Rajan Ghule, was similarly “punished” after allegations of links with bookies.

Both politicians and bureaucrats are now taking IPS officer Y.P. Singh’s book on the rot in the police force seriously. In Carnage by Angels, Singh had chronicled a dark tale of police transfers and postings that were offered to the highest “bidder”.

Additional commissioner in charge of SB-I, Bipin Bihari, does not deny “most” of the charges. But he adds that the rot had set in long ago.

The police have not made much headway in the investigations. Though deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said the blasts were executed by the Lashkar-e-Toiba with help from the Students’ Islamic Movement of India, there are reports that the attack could be the handiwork of a newly-formed group in Gujarat.

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal had gone on record saying the blasts have a link with the communal riots in Gujarat last year. Crime branch officers are now saying that apart from Simi and operatives of the Lashkar, they will have to look closely at the activities of the Gujarat Revenge Force, an organisation of youths set on avenging the post-Godhra riots.

The police have made some sketches of the accused based on descriptions by the driver of one of the taxis that blew up. The driver, Shiv Narayan Pandey, is still being interrogated. The driver of the other taxi died in the blast at Zaveri Bazaar.

Mumbai police teams have fanned out to Pune, Aurangabad, Calcutta, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Joint commissioner Satyapal Singh said the police had got definite leads but would not reveal them.

“This is the work of well trained professional people and we don’t want to alert them,’’ he said. But sources revealed that eight persons had been arrested and were being questioned at an undisclosed location.

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