Saturday, February 13, 2010

Terror in Pune

We were on our way back from an extended stay at Crossword, Saurabh Hall driving through Bund Garden around 8:00 PM on Feb 13th. We had dinner plans at a Chinese restaurant in Koregaon Park and would have had to pass through German Bakery. As we went past Ruby Hall Clinic, we saw police personnel and ambulances. There was a lot of traffic on our side and we were driving bumper to bumper moving a few feet every few minutes. We then spotted police vehicles and an ambulance come on the opposite road. We presumed some VIP was being hospitalized. My friend Kishore called and informed us of the blast. We immediately called home and assured everyone that we were okay. We took a diversion through Nagar road and then reached home an hour later.

Today morning I was watching Chidambaram's press conference. I have tremendous respect for his work and I hope it is not because of the low standard set by the previous home minister. I however fail to agree with some of his statements. He mentioned: "There was intelligence on the Osho Ashram and the Chabad house being hard targets. There was adequate security provided and soft targets around were sensitised and asked to take necessary precautions. In this particular incident it is yet to determine the security at German Bakery."

I am not sure if it justifiable to place the onus of security on private establishments that are soft targets. What do they need to do? Install security scanners, CCTV, armed private guards? How much is needed and how much is overkill? An attempt can be made to counter specific threats but the scope of threats are infinite and it is not possible for every soft target to fortify themselves against all kind of attacks. I think security should be more collaborative with both the private establishment and the government agencies working together. Security here is security at the last line of defense. Important but not very effective. The real security lies in intelligence gathered much before. Chidambaram said that there was no intelligence failure but the fact that this even happened is a failure to gather specific intelligence.

Once the cat is let out of the bag it is hard to catch it even with a 1000 dogs.