The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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We told Bihar so 10 days ago: Delhi

New Delhi, Nov. 15: The Jehanabad jail raid was not a bolt from the blue as the Bihar administration has been claiming, according to central intelligence agencies.

Ten days ago, the Bihar administration was told that a big Naxalite offensive was in the making and the central alert had gone to the extent of pinpointing Jehanabad as one of the potential targets.

The specific alert was sent by the central intelligence agencies close on the heels of another that had warned of the possibility of an attack to either kill or abduct members of the Ranbir Sena, a militia of upper caste landlords.

But independent security analysts cautioned that central agencies issue such warnings regularly and few state administrations have the resources to be on the vigil every time an alert is issued.

Such shots in the dark hit home once in a while. On Sunday night, the two central alerts were borne out by the Maoist attack.

The first warning was issued on October 26 at a meeting of a special task force, headed by Union home secretary V.K. Duggal, where senior officials of Bihar and eight other Naxalite-affected states were present. The intelligence agencies had then given information about a possible offensive in Bihar.

At the same meeting, the agencies had raised the possibility of strikes on politicians or high-profile personalities in Andhra Pradesh.

Though officials from Bihar and Andhra were present at the session, separate advisories were sent to the states about the threat perceptions.

“We have gathered now that while Andhra paid immediate heed to the crucial intelligence inputs and beefed up the security arrangements, it was taken lightly in Bihar. This is being considered as a serious lapse and steps are being taken to correct the flaws,” said an official in Delhi.

The second warning that zeroed in on Jehanabad was issued a week later.

While sending additional reinforcements to Jehanabad, the Union home ministry told Bihar, which is under direct central rule now, that the answer does not lie in camping more forces but better intelligence processing by the state and local administration.

According to a senior official, home minister Shivraj Patil and Duggal have expressed dissatisfaction over local intelligence-gathering efforts in all Naxalite-affected states.

At a conference of chief ministers of Naxalite-hit states in September, the home ministry had laid stress on intelligence collection. It had asked the states to strengthen their local intelligence networks and start a mechanism to share the information.

Sources said the home ministry is now feeling that some states are confining their operations to citing Naxalite extremism as a means to extract more funds from the Centre.

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