| Advani talks to the media after visiting the temple complex. (PTI)
Gandhinagar, Sept. 25: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today blamed Pakistan for the militant attack on the Swaminarayan temple, saying the “enemy country” was waging a proxy war against India.
Advani, who arrived here last night to oversee the operation against the militants, said a leader of the “enemy country” had given ample indication that something of this sort was going to happen.
When Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf raised an issue relating to Gujarat at the UN, he had given hints of the shape of things to come, Advani elaborated, adding that it was a clear signal to militants to carry out an attack.
The militants, backed by “a dictatorial regime”, had chosen a soft target in Gujarat after the successful conduct of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the deputy Prime Minister said, pointing out that the democratic exercise had apparently threatened such forces across the border.
Advani, however, did not rule out that the little known organisation, Tehreek-e-Kasas, which stormed the Swaminarayan temple, could be a local outfit consisting of disgruntled youths from families of those who had suffered in the Gujarat riots.
VHP international secretary Praveen Togadia also echoed a similar view today. “I won’t be surprised if the two terrorists are found to be from Ahmedabad,” Togadia said.
Describing the attack as a “dictatorial assault on democracy”, Advani asserted that the recent incidents only showed that Islamabad was not happy with the “positive developments” in the Valley.
This, he said, was evident since extremist elements selectively targeted candidates contesting the elections and party workers, and had now masterminded the attack in a high-security zone like the Swaminarayan temple complex situated opposite the chief minister’s bungalow.
He congratulated the National Security Guard commandos for successfully eliminating the militants without damaging the temple and suspected that there could be more than two militants involved in the attack.
The militants probably wanted to take visitors to the temple hostage but the Black Cat commandos foiled their plan, Advani said, observing that, like the 1971 war, this commando operation was splendid.
He, however, cautioned that there could be many more such terrorist attacks. “It is a continuing battle against the terrorism that we have to wage and at the same time we have to be vigilant and alert,” the home minister said.
Stating that although India has been a victim of terrorism for more than two decades, the deputy Prime Minister said that now there is a distinct change in the way terrorists execute their operations. The international opinion on terrorism, too, has undergone a change after the attack on the World Trade Centre on September 11 last year, he added.
After the NSG had flushed out the militants and evacuated visitors — 70 inside the temple and 90 in the three exhibition halls of the temple complex — the deputy Prime Minister visited the temple complex, inspecting the site where the militants and NSG commandos exchanged fire for more than 12 hours. He was accompanied by chief minister Narendra Modi and Union minister of state for defence Harin Pathak.
Earlier, in a brief chat with reporters, the deputy Prime Minister said the commandos had been instructed to safely rescue the visitors who had locked themselves inside the temple and exhibition hall and cause minimum damage to the temple.