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BLASTS AGAIN

It may be wise not to believe in coincidence, but the coincidence has to be spotted first. The low-intensity serial blasts in Pune last Wednesday that hurt one person may have been aimed at the Union home minister, who was supposed to have been visiting the area at the time. Or they may not. The ministerís visit was abruptly cancelled. Then was the cancellation the coincidence? It may well be that the two events ó the serial blasts and the proposed visit ó were entirely unconnected. Naturally, there is no answer since nothing definite has been found. There were two more improvised explosive devices that were defused by the police. So Pune was really looking at six possible blasts and, is now looking, apparently, at a blank wall.

Even those used to Indiaís seemingly lackadaisical approach to public safety may be a little disconcerted by Puneís casualness. The German Bakery blast, with its toll of 17, is just about two years old. There was talk of setting up close circuit television networks in Pune, especially after the German Bakery blast and Mumbaiís 26/11. Reportedly, now the police have no CCTV footage to go by. But the story really begins much earlier. Intelligence had obviously failed when the Union home minister announced his visit. Has Pune, or Maharashtra, learnt any lesson from the earlier blasts, at least that of unflagging vigilance? The Union home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, insisted that the blasts were a serious matter and were being investigated. It is fascinating that the crack forces have not a clue. Sharad Pawar has been rather harsh to the state home minister, R.R. Patil, a partyman. No one knows why, because it was Mr Pawar who eased him out of his home ministerís chair after 26/11, and then brought him back again. What was Mr Pawar expecting? But the administrationís cluelessness before and after the event may have been a little hard to take.