Guwahati, Nov. 24: Where next'
The string of explosions in the Assam capital over the past month — on a river bank teeming with Chhath Puja revellers, at the crowded Chai Gali of Fancy Bazar, in a sleepy suburb and at the railway station last evening — has left police grappling with a question that eludes answers.
“So many innocents will be saved if we can establish a pattern (in the violence). But the-re is no pattern, and that is the biggest problem,” a senior police official said a day after the explosion in the parking lot of Guwahati railway station killed three and wounded 11.
The targets — people in public places — are the only common factor in all the recent explosions in the city. “When there is a pattern, we know where to go, when to go and what to look for. Of course, it is not always possible to know what criminals are thinking. But at least we can anticipate. In the present scenario, we are looking at the entire city as a possible target,” the police official said.
What has made the task of anticipation and prevention more difficult for the police is the fact that the main suspect, the outlawed Ulfa, has denied any involvement in some of the incidents, specifically the Chai Gali and railway station blasts. A person claiming to be Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa telephoned newspaper offices today to clarify that his outfit was not involved in the terror attack yesterday. He said the “same force” that was responsible for the Chai Gali explosion was at work at the railway station.
If not Ulfa, who'
Rajkhowa accused the Unified Command for counter-insurgency operations in Assam of being hand-in-glove with those behind these two incidents and warned of more such attacks. He said such incidents were meant to justify army operations in the state.
The police admitted that Ulfa’s denials had created “a bit of confusion”.
“If it is not Ulfa, we have to look at incidents from many angles. Jihadi organisations or even splinter groups of Ulfa could be operating independently. Splinter Ulfa groups (and they are known to be active) will act without logic or reason. As for jihadi groups, they are the most dangerous and the real terrorists. For th-em, no place is more appropriate for an attack than a public place,” the police official said.
Investigators claimed that those behind the railway station blast may have been planning to plant the bomb on platform number 1, where the Rajdhani Express arrives from Delhi in the evening.
“The timing of the blast suggests Rajdhani Express was the target. The person carrying the bomb might have decided to leave it in the cycle rickshaw he had hired after deciding not to take a chance with the heavy security at the gate,” a member of the investigating team said.