Friday, December 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India




National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Attack exposes security breach at Parliament
Multiplicity of security forces main problem
New Delhi, December 13
The virtual ease with which the suicide squad gained access into the high-security Parliament premises this morning is being seen as a major security breach and the direct result of the multiplicity of authority in the security system.

A body lies on the steps A body lies on the steps inside the Parliament compound as a man takes cover in a doorway in New Delhi on Thursday.
—  Reuters photo

Delayed departure saved Vice-President
New Delhi, December 13
A providential two-minute delay in his departure for home may have saved Vice-President Krishan Kant when terrorists struck at Parliament House today. Mr Kant, who presides over the Rajya Sabha, was all set to leave for his residence after he had adjourned the House around 1140 a.m.


EARLIER STORIES

 

Congress stand on POTO unchanged
New Delhi, December 13
The Opposition parties today said that the terrorist attack on Parliament today was a monumental security failure and asked the government to thoroughly probe it. At a specially convened Congress Working Committee meeting at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence, the Congress said that the incident occurred despite the government having previous information about a possible terrorist attack on Parliament.

Lucky escape for MP
New Delhi, December 13
A stroke of luck saved Samajwadi Party MP Amar Singh today from being caught in the terrorist attack at the Parliament House Complex as he left his car just minutes before it became the target of the militants’ bullet.

Heavily-armed soldiers
Heavily-armed soldiers patrol near the Parliament in New Delhi on Thursday.
— Reuters photo

They were a desperate lot
New Delhi, December 13
The militants, who stormed into Parliament premises, threw hand grenades and ran in different directions to deceive the security personnel, Suresh, driver of Samajwadi Party MP, Balram Singh Yadav, said soon after the daylight attack on Parliament.

Taken unawares, it was confusion, panic
New Delhi, December 13
Many thought they were fire-crackers and the others that some security personnel had opened fire under pressure of job. But none realised for the initial minute or so of the indiscriminate firing that it was a terrorist attack on the very heart of the Indian democracy.

SIDELIGHTS OF ATTACK
Two bouts of anxiety
New Delhi, December 13
Hours after terrorists attacked Parliament, a large explosion inside the sprawling circular complex led to another bout of anxiety. Word soon spread that the terrorists had bombed the complex this time.

Car bore Home Ministry sticker
New Delhi, December 13
It was familiar looking white Ambassador VIP car which entered the Parliament complex just before the indiscriminate firing started and took the security officials by surprise.

Grieving kin throng hospital
New Delhi, December 13
Grieving relatives and politicians inquiring about the welfare of security personnel who sacrificed their lives thronged Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital following the terrorist attack on Parliament today.

Captain leaves last: Mahajan
New Delhi, December 13
“I will be the last to leave Parliament premises,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told MPs after the terrorist attack.
The Minister, who was making arrangements for the evacuation of all members and others holed up inside the Parliament precincts, said he would leave the place last.

Mere laws won’t do, says DMK chief
Chennai, December 13
DMK President M. Karunanidhi today said only the unified strength of the people could uproot terrorism and mere framing of laws was insufficient.
Reacting to the reports of gunfire in the Parliament premises today, Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Minister said this morning’s assault only showed that it was time for political parties to come together to tackle such issues instead of “wasting” time in Parliament.

Shameful for govt: Sunil Dutt
New Delhi, December 13
Former cine-artiste and MP Sunil Dutt described as “shameful” for the government the attack by terrorists in the Parliament House complex this morning.
“How can common Indians feel safe when the government can’t ensure security inside Parliament itself”, Mr Dutt questioned.

 

Proceedings stalled again
New Delhi, December 13
For the third consecutive day, agitated Opposition members firm on their demand for Defence Minister George Fernandes’ resignation over the coffin scam stalled the proceedings forcing adjournment of both Houses for the day.

 
VIDEOS
A red alert has been sounded in the national Capital region.
(28k, 56k)

Security has been beefed up throughout the country after militants attack on the Parliament today morning.
(28k, 56k)

Reaction from various political leaders.
(28k, 56k)
ANI cameraman Vikram Singh has been admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital after he was seriously injured during the Parliament shootout.
(28k, 56k)
Family members of the injured in the terrorist shoot-out are in a state of shock.
(28k, 56k)
A small hamlet in Tamil Nadu has been chosen for harnessing wind power on experimental basis.
(28k, 56k)
Eightyone-year-old Tilak Raj Khanna and Ashok Chakara recipient still awaits the award money to reach him.
(28k, 56k)


Top






 

Attack exposes security breach at Parliament
Multiplicity of security forces main problem
Ravi Bhatia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
The virtual ease with which the suicide squad gained access into the high-security Parliament premises this morning is being seen as a major security breach and the direct result of the multiplicity of authority in the security system.

While the security of Parliament House is the responsibility of the watch and ward staff, the outer ring is manned by personnel of the Delhi Armed Police (DAP)and other paramilitary forces, making them bear the brunt of the attack.

Inside, there is a considerable deployment of men of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) who keep a regular tab on the visitors.The security is backed by sophisticated monitoring equipment.

According to officials, most of the men of the watch and ward staff are from different police forces and trained in handling automatic weapons.Senior officers of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General of Police are required to coordinate the security measures and this is where the problem allegedly lies.

“In almost every case, personal egos dominate, virtually limiting the coordination and communication to routine matters.Serious issues hardly get the attention they deserve”, confessed a security officer.

Senior security officers, including several former ones, have questioned the judiciousness of having three different agencies handling the security of the august House, the seat of the country’s democracy.

“Whenever more than one agency is involved in security, there is bound to be confusion, resulting in serious lapses. We have seen this on earlier occasions in Jammu and Kashmir and other places as well”, admitted a senior Home Ministry official who requested anonymity.

It was to eliminate communication confusion that the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) responsible for the security of the Prime Minister and former Prime Ministers was raised through an Act of Parliament.

Eyewitnesses said the commandos of the Delhi Police and the personal security officers (PSOs) of some ministers and MPs present in Parliament at that who first reacted to the attack and fired back effectively at the suspects. “Had they not been there, things could have been much worse”, admitted another officer.

Top

 

Delayed departure saved Vice-President

New Delhi, December 13
A providential two-minute delay in his departure for home may have saved Vice-President Krishan Kant when terrorists struck at Parliament House today.

Mr Kant, who presides over the Rajya Sabha, was all set to leave for his residence after he had adjourned the House around 1140 a.m. When the white Ambassador carrying terrorists suddenly appeared at gate 11 of Parliament House which he uses.

The ambassador hit one of the bulletproof vehicles in his motorcade which had been readied for the short drive to the Vice-President’s house as he was about to leave his chamber, according to official sources.

Under the impact of the hit, four doors of the bulletproof Ambassador flung open and the driver, Shekar, got out and caught hold of one of the terrorists, shouting at him for rash driving.

The terrorists shouted back at him and told him to run away otherwise he would be killed, even as other militants came out and made a dash towards the Vice-President’s entrance, the sources said. PTI

Top

 

Congress stand on POTO unchanged
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
The Opposition parties today said that the terrorist attack on Parliament today was a monumental security failure and asked the government to thoroughly probe it.

At a specially convened Congress Working Committee meeting at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence, the Congress said that the incident occurred despite the government having previous information about a possible terrorist attack on Parliament. “The primary task and sole responsibility for safegaurding the security of the nation is that of the government,” the CWC said.

Condemning the attack, the party said that the nation was united in combating the terrorist menace.

The CWC also conveyed its “deep sense of appreciation and gratitude for the manner in which the security staff of Parliament, Delhi Police and para-military force personnel gave their lives to defend and protect the honour and dignity of Parliament.’’ It expressed its condolences to the members of the bereaved families.

The party, however, said that the horrendous incident does not push aside other issues, including POTO and the controversy over caskets’ acquisition.

Asked if the party had revised its opinion on POTO after the terrorist attack, Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy said that the inefficacy of POTO was evident from today’s attack on Parliament. “POTO has been in operation for almost seven weeks, but it has not helped prevent today’s attack,” he said.

To a question about the Congress being in favour of government taking some strong action against terrorists, including bombing of terrorist training camps, Mr Reddy said that the issue was not discussed at the CWC.

However, the Samajwadi Party, which is also a staunch critic of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) today asked the government to adopt a pro-active policy and destroy terrorist training camps.

“This is an attack on the country’s ‘swabhiman’ (self-respect),’’ SP general secretary Amar Singh said after the attack in which his personal vehicle was damaged.

Demanding that the government emulate the USA and Israel in dealing with terrorists, Mr Amar Singh said the BJP-led government had been talking a lot about pro-active policy “but the statements do not match the deeds”.

Asked whether his party would now support the POTO which the government is trying to legislate to tackle terrorism, he said that it had not helped prevent the attack.

In separate statements, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI, Forward Bloc, the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the CPI(M-L) said Parliament was carefully chosen as a target for this attack as it symbolised the democratic system of the country.

The CPM Politburo said it must be probed how the attackers managed to enter the Parliament compound.

Home Minister L.K. Advani owed an explanation to the nation for his failure in initiating preventive measures as he himself had pointed to the possibility of such an attack a few days back, the party said.

CPI Central Secretariat said the attack should not be used as an argument to sweep under target the issues that have been raised by the entire opposition in Parliament.
Top

 

Lucky escape for MP

New Delhi, December 13
A stroke of luck saved Samajwadi Party MP Amar Singh today from being caught in the terrorist attack at the Parliament House Complex as he left his car just minutes before it became the target of the militants’ bullet.

“I escaped death by only a few minutes,” he told newspersons at Parliament Street police station adding that he had got down from his car at around 11.35 a.m. and just after three minutes, the car (DL 5C B3213) was hit by a bullet fired from an AK-47. The bullet smashed the window behind the driver’s seat and exited through the other side.

Mr Singh said, when he entered Parliament after getting down from his car, he had heard some sound after a few minutes but ignored it thinking that something had fallen down. UNI

Top

 

They were a desperate lot
S. Satyanarayanan and R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
The militants, who stormed into Parliament premises, threw hand grenades and ran in different directions to deceive the security personnel, Suresh, driver of Samajwadi Party MP, Balram Singh Yadav, said soon after the daylight attack on Parliament.

Giving a first-hand account of the carnage, Suresh said Parliament premises looked like a battlefield with guns booming and grenades exploding and people running for cover in fear.

“I had just reached the parking lot after dropping Mr Yadav when I heard gunshots I did not realise what had happened, I saw four to five men, shouting slogans, run in different directions, throwing grenades and firing at security personnel,” he said.

“While one ran towards the main entrance of Parliament, the other four tried to enter the building through two more gates, normally used by the VVIPs. The militant, who approached the main entrance blew himself up, when he was caught by one of the security personnel,” Suresh recounted.

“I could see from a distance bloodstains and the remains of a half-blown body of a militant.” “It was so scary I hid myself below the car for about half an hour before I was asked by security personnel to leave the premises from the back gate, Suresh said, recounting frightening moments he experienced.

Recalling the horrifying incident, Mr Shyam Bilas Mishra, MP from Uttar Pradesh, said: “I was about to leave the House and was near the Matador, when the firing started.”

“I was completely zapped by the incident and took cover. The parliamentary security staff immediately pressed the buzzer and the security personnel simultaneously provided us cover and escorted us to Room no 21. There were three other MPs in the room,” he said.

The Billore MP said: “We were hurdled inside the room for more than an hour and the door was locked from outside. When it was opened, I heard that a bullet had hit one of the rooms in Parliament House.” “I checked up Room no 23 and found that the bullet had pierced though the door of the room, hiting the wall. The MPs who had been huddled in the room for safety were unhurt.”

Congress MP Renuka Choudhury, who was standing near the lone woman constable killed in the incident, commended the way the CRPF constable retaliated.

Top

 

Taken unawares, it was confusion, panic
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
Many thought they were fire-crackers and the others that some security personnel had opened fire under pressure of job.

But none realised for the initial minute or so of the indiscriminate firing that it was a terrorist attack on the very heart of the Indian democracy.

Only when one of the Delhi police commandos posted at Parliament House fell to the ground, hit by one of the bullets from the AK-47 rifle of the terrorist that reality dawned upon many that the unthinkable had happened. The Indian Parliament had come under attack!

The suicide squads, supposedly fighting a “holy war” in Jammu and Kashmir, had managed to carry out the threat they had been handing out for quite some time now.

The first among the securitymen to react were the Delhi Police commandos posted with Vice-President Krishan Kant, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The Chairman, having adjourned the Rajya Sabha for the day was about to leave for home after discussions in his chamber when the attack started.

The commandos of the Vice President’s cavalcade reacted by shooting back at the members of the suicide squad. But by then the damage had been done and the mercenaries had already taken up positions behind the side walls of the outer periphery of Parliament House.

The Central Reserve Police Force officials who have their offices inside the complex also rushed out with their automatic weapons on hand. But it was the quick thinking of Parliament’s Watch and Ward staff that actually kept the civilian casualty figure down.

Within minutes, before the suicide squad members could move towards the main gate, the Watch and Ward staff members had pushed all those standing on the stairs and near the main gate inside the complex and shut the huge heavy door leading to the corridor.

There was, however, utter confusion on the road outside the Parliament building. Security personnel were running helter-skelter, taking up positions to counter the attack, but none knew their strength or what arms and ammunition they were carrying.

There was, however, more panic among the civilians, most of whom were either drivers of the Members of Parliament, 300 of whom were still inside the complex. Most took shelter behind the large number of cars parked in the special area just a few metres away from where the mercenaries got off their white Ambassador car and started the indiscriminate firing.

There were shouts from all around of “woh raha, woh raha... deewar ke peeche hai”. Some of the security personnel were giving directions to those who had already taken position to where to direct their firing.

By then, the Watch and Ward staff members also pulled out their weapons and joined the other security personnel in retaliating the most daring terrorist attack in the Indian history.

The terrorists kept firing indiscriminately as by then they were apparently aware that their attempt at entering the Parliament complex was successful but their determination to go inside the building was been stubbed with greater resilience.

Meanwhile, the Watch and Ward staff members posted at the main gate had closed them and no movement was allowed near it. The New Delhi district police, in whose jurisdiction Parliament House falls, had also moved and blocked all roads leading to it.

There was as much chaos outside with the sudden diversion of traffic. With the news of the attack spreading a large number of people from the adjoining offices were out on the roads near Parliament House. Almost an hour after, on the roads just outside Parliament House, the police and the Watch and Ward personnel kept requesting the media personnel to stay at a distance as one of the suicide squad members was still missing and was apparently thought to be inside the Parliament Complex and could be heading towards that area.

Top

 

SIDELIGHTS OF ATTACK
Two bouts of anxiety
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
Hours after terrorists attacked Parliament, a large explosion inside the sprawling circular complex led to another bout of anxiety. Word soon spread that the terrorists had bombed the complex this time.

It took a while for the Delhi police to clarify that the explosion was caused by the bomb disposal squad which had detonated one of the powerful explosives inside the complex.

Bullets or crackers?

For unsuspecting BJP Lok Sabha member Kharabela Swain, the loud sound of bullets sounded like crackers. Mr Swain who was near the scene of firing took some time to comprehend the situation. It was only when somebody shouted, “terrorists”, that it hit him that there was firing all around. He promptly ran for cover and hid in a corner which he felt was safe.

He said the first round of firing lasted 25 to 30 minutes amid four loud explosions.

Narrow escape

Samajwadi Party MP Amar Singh “escaped death by a few minutes”. He would have been caught in the crossfire, but for his getting into the main building just three minutes before firing began. His car was hit by a bullet fired from an AK-47 and the bullet went through both the rear windows, leaving smashed glass pieces all around.

Mr Amar Singh said he did hear some noise when he was entering the main building, but ignored it thinking something had fallen down. He realised that December 13 had indeed been lucky for him when he was taken to the Parliament street police station and shown the damaged car.

Lady luck smiles

Luck smiled on another MP from BJP, Mr Dilip Gandhi. He missed a bullet by a whisker after he showed presence of mind to duck. Mr Gandhi who was in front of Petroleum Minister Ram Naik’s office saw a terrorist firing in his direction. He ducked and took shelter behind a pillar. The bullet was found embedded on the door of Mr Naik’s office.

Business as usual

For the Delhi police cops manning road barriers outside the Parliament House complex, it was business as usual even amidst the firing. They stood on the main road and continued to regulate traffic. Security personnel who accompany VVIPs in escort cars were seen taking up positions near the parking lot outside Parliament House.

Scribes lock up

Scribes standing on the corridors of Parliament House had to experience some frustrating moments when they were asked to lock themselves in the nearest room available. With action taking place within earshot, they had to wait for matters to cool down before getting down to work. Alert journos made good use of the waiting time by calling up their family members to inform them about their safety. After some time, most telephones in the area went dead and only calls could be received.

Even after the rat-a-tat of shooting stopped the scribes were asked to remain indoors. It took nearly one-and-a-half-hours for the security personnel to give the all-clear sign.

Top

 

Car bore Home Ministry sticker
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, December 13
It was familiar looking white Ambassador VIP car which entered the Parliament complex just before the indiscriminate firing started and took the security officials by surprise.

The car, complete as a VIP car in all respect with both Parliament House parking sticker as well as the Home Ministry parking sticker entered the complex with its sirens blaring and the red light atop flashing from the gate towards the Vijay Chowk.

The guards were taken in by the familiar VIP appearance of the car (DL 3CJ 1527), and allowed it past the first barricade, knowing little what was in store.

Immediately after getting off the car the terrorists started firing indiscriminately and a suicide bomber who apparently had explosives strapped to his body blew himself.

Security forces deployed inside the complex defused several grenades, including one at the Vijay Chowk gate, from where group of terrorists had entered the complex.

Security personnel also took sniffer dogs inside the complex to search for any bombs that could be lying there.

It was not immediately known whether the Home Ministry pass was fake or obtained from somewhere by the terrorists and the police is investigating this aspect. According to sources, the car belonged to a private company, Infrastructure Leasing Limited, and had been stolen.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Vijay Goel said the terrorists, dressed in military fatigues, carried identical camera bags that concealed explosives.

Top

 

Grieving kin throng hospital

New Delhi, December 13
Grieving relatives and politicians inquiring about the welfare of security personnel who sacrificed their lives thronged Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital following the terrorist attack on Parliament today.

Seven security personnel, including a woman, were killed and 18 injured in the fierce encounter with terrorists at the Parliament House.

While relief was writ large on the face of Ranvir Singh, cousin of Samar Singh, 32, after hearing that he was out of danger, Kamlesh Kumari’s husband was inconsolable. The young woman constable of the CRPF was posted at the gate of Parliament where the terrorists struck.

Tears rolled down the cheeks of Mewa Devi as she reached the hospital on hearing about the death of her brother Nanak Chand, an ASI of the Delhi police. UNI

Top

 

Captain leaves last: Mahajan

New Delhi, December 13
“I will be the last to leave Parliament premises,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told MPs after the terrorist attack.

The Minister, who was making arrangements for the evacuation of all members and others holed up inside the Parliament precincts, said he would leave the place last.

Mr Mahajan was making frequent trips to the Central Hall to apprise the 200 odd members about the situation and assure them that everything was under control.

“My job is to see that every member reaches home safe,” he said when a woman MP remarked whether they were being made guinea pigs by being asked to leave the premises first. He said women members were being taken out only in small batches and amidst tight security.

However, Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj refused to leave the Central Hall saying that she would prefer to leave last.

The Minister praised the “quick and efficient” response of the security forces and the watch and ward staff of Parliament following the attack. PTI

Top

 

Mere laws won’t do, says DMK chief

Chennai, December 13
DMK President M. Karunanidhi today said only the unified strength of the people could uproot terrorism and mere framing of laws was insufficient.

Reacting to the reports of gunfire in the Parliament premises today, Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Minister said this morning’s assault only showed that it was time for political parties to come together to tackle such issues instead of “wasting” time in Parliament.

“Today’s incident brings into focus the need for legislators to come together and take up issues such as terrorism that directly affect the people,” he said.

The DMK supremo called upon all political parties to come together with the objective of saving the unity and integrity of the country.

Asked if he thought the firing within Parliament had made introduction of a stringent legislation such as the Prevention Of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) imperative, Mr Karunanidhi said, “law alone is not enough to tackle the problem.” UNI

Top

 

Shameful for govt: Sunil Dutt

New Delhi, December 13
Former cine-artiste and MP Sunil Dutt described as “shameful” for the government the attack by terrorists in the Parliament House complex this morning.

“How can common Indians feel safe when the government can’t ensure security inside Parliament itself”, Mr Dutt questioned.

He said the October 1 suicide-attack by militants on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly should have been ample warning for the government.

“If they (militants) could storm a state Assembly... the Parliament House was the next logical target... the government should have been alert...” UNI

Top

 

Proceedings stalled again

New Delhi, December 13
For the third consecutive day, agitated Opposition members firm on their demand for Defence Minister George Fernandes’ resignation over the coffin scam stalled the proceedings forcing adjournment of both Houses for the day.

In a virtual re-enactment of scenes witnessed over the past two days, the angry members sprang to their feet in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha shouting slogans as soon as the two Houses met for the day.

With the Opposition members showing no signs of relenting, Mr Balayogi adjourned the House within a few minutes.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition members pressed for the resignation of Mr Fernandes, holding him squarely responsible for the scandal.

Sensing the mood, Mr Kant adjourned the House for the day within minutes of its assembling. PTITop

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
|
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
|
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |