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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
India's security flaws revealed

By Ayanjit Sen
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Indian policeman with sniffer dog inspects woman's bag on train
India has been on high alert since the Bombay blasts

Monday's bomb blasts in the Indian commercial capital of Bombay have raised concerns about the country's preparedness to take effective measures to deal with such deadly situations.

Leading security experts say there cannot be a foolproof system to prevent such blasts.

Even as the Indian authorities have initially pointed the finger towards Pakistan-based militant groups for Monday's incidents, intelligence experts say the security agencies should adopt a new approach to counter militancy in the country.

Some experts say many state police forces have become ineffective at dealing with militant and rebel attacks because of corruption and a lack of modern technical expertise.

"Unless the security agencies adopt latest technology to deal with the situation it will be difficult to counter militant groups," said one officer.

"Technology to intercept messages and even modern weapons are not available always with the police, especially in smaller towns."

They sometimes have to operate without bullet-proof jackets, he said.

Better understanding

Speaking to the BBC, leading security expert and a former director-general of India's Border Security Force, Prakash Singh, said that it was not possible to thwart every blast, although steps can be taken to control them to an extent.

Intelligence cannot be a God-like phenomenon where officers are expected to pre-empt all militant moves
Former India Intelligence Bureau director M K Narayanan
"Some intelligence input may have been there regarding the Bombay blast on Monday, but it is very difficult to pinpoint a suspect or a place in such a big city," he said.

He said there should be better understanding between the intelligence agencies and the police to prevent any possible attacks.

"Sharing of information and other resources between the state police forces and the intelligence agencies are far from satisfactory," he added.

But a former director of India's Intelligence Bureau, M K Narayanan, said bomb blasts cannot be all be blamed on intelligence failures.

"Intelligence cannot be a God-like phenomenon where officers are expected to pre-empt all militant moves," he told the BBC.

However, Mr Narayanan said the Indian intelligence agencies should adopt a new approach to counter militant and rebel groups.

"Shifting the blame on to Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence for every bomb blast in India should be discouraged and more attention should be given to improve counter-intelligence and better co-ordination between the police and the intelligence agencies," said Mr Narayanan.

Lack of resources

Although the authorities have taken security measures in different Indian cities including the capital, Delhi, experts say these are short-term remedies always taken following an incident such as that in Bombay.

Indian policeman prepare to guard the Presidential Palace complex in Delhi
For Indian police staying on constant alert can take its toll
Police patrolling has been increased on Delhi roads and particularly around vital installations and places of worship.

Vehicles are also being randomly checked in the city.

A senior police officer said guest houses and small hotels in the city were also being checked.

However, those at the sharp end complain of a lack of resources.

For Pradip Singh Rathi, a police constable in Delhi, keeping watch on cars and buses on a road near a government building for 10 hours at a stretch takes its toll.

"We are on alert since yesterday [Monday] but it is not always possible to be vigilant all throughout the day and it affects our health," he said.


SEE ALSO:
India seeks Pakistan action on blasts
26 Aug 03  |  South Asia
Analysis: Will the thaw continue?
26 Aug 03  |  South Asia
India's press shocked by Bombay blasts
26 Aug 03  |  South Asia
In pictures: Bombay blasts
25 Aug 03  |  Photo Gallery


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