Is it another goof-up by the Indian intelligence agencies? Pakistani media on Thursday reported how the five people the Mumbai Police is looking for and believes to be Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists, who have sneaked into Mumbai to carry out terror strike, are actually Lahore-based businessmen. The Mumbai Police had released the names and pictures of these five people. Pakistan based Express Tribune
on Thursday reported, "The three, however, are present in Lahore, with two of them running businesses and one serving as a security guard at the city's famed electronics market Hafeez Centre." It also says that they approached a local police station for security after their pictures surfaced in the Indian media as terror suspects. Read
On May 5, Home Minister P Chidambaram urged Chief Ministers during a meeting to agree to the controversial anti-terror body - the National Terrorism Centre (NCTC). He later told the gathering, "Two days ago, Central agencies received specific inputs on an imminent terrorist attack. Several states were notified and specific targets were identified." Mr Chidambaram was referring to the same people who allegedly run business in Lahore.
Till now, Pakistan hasn't officially reacted and is unlikely to do so since it is an internal communication of the Government of India. But the issue will surely figure in the Home Secretary level dialogue between India and Pakistan scheduled to start on May 24. And, Union Home Secretary R K Singh will, in all probability, face very uncomfortable questions from the media in Pakistan. For now, India stands by the terror advisory it sent to the states. Speaking to NDTV, the Home Secretary said, "The advisory circulated is based on credible information. We stand by the advisory. I will, however, not comment on the contents of the advisory since investigations are on."
But how exactly did the Home Minister come across the intelligence input? Sources tell NDTV that Research and Analysis Wing (RA&W) informed the government on May 3 about an impending terror strike and identified the Jamnagar Oil Refinery, the Bombay High off-shore oil rig and some more intended targets. The RA&W is also understood to have told the government that information had come from two credible sources. The same sources, apparently, had previously provided the RA&W with unverified information which when fed into the security infrastructure had caused considerable confusion. Nonetheless, unable to discard the information straightaway on the basis of the past record, the Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was roped in. So was the Multi-Agency Centre or MAC platform with in the Intelligence Bureau to coordinate and share intelligence available with different agencies. After much deliberation and back and forth, an alert was sounded and the alert landed at the Home Minister's desk.
This is not first time that India has been embarrassed. Last year, India handed over a list of 50 most wanted terrorist allegedly being sheltered by Pakistan to Islamabad with much fan fare. A few days later, much to its horror and shame, New Delhi realised that some of those in the list were actually in Indian jails or were out on bail facing a trial in Indian courts. A probe was ordered into the goof-up. The finding of the inquiry was never made public. But a junior officer posted with the Interpol Wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) allegedly had to pay the price for the goof-up. Yet another inquiry is likely to be ordered into this alleged goof-up soon, sources tell NDTV.