Ambala RDX haul: Police focuses on sympathiser localities for fresh leads
Ambala, October 23
While that call triggered a frenzy of activity in the agency, the Ambala police was merely informed that a Delhi Police team would be arriving soon and would require some assistance.
Barely three hours after the team’s arrival, a car laden with a massive cache of RDX and detonators was traced to the Ambala railway station. The seizure led to the thwarting a major terror strike in Delhi to coincide with the festive season.
Ten days after this discovery brought homegrown support to international terrorist organisations and the presence of sleeper cells into sharp focus, the Ambala police is “watching” symathiser localities, which could throw up new leads in the case.
“We have stepped up surveillance in “suspect” colonies where they could have been housed after parking the car at the railway station,” Ambala Deputy Commissioner of Police Shashank Anand said.
Even as efforts are afoot to zero in on the suspects who “delivered” the RDX consignment, what is worrisome for Anand is that the terrorists were in the heart of the city. “The handlers are across the border but that terrorists actually came and parked the car and disappeared in the crowd is our reason for concern,” he says.
Recalling the sequence of events on October 12, the day the car was found, Anand says, “Around 11 am, I received a message from investigating agencies saying that a Delhi Police team would meet for assistance. The team headed by the Special Cell ACP came around 5 pm and said a vehicle, ‘HR’ 0054, involved in some anti-national activity, had to be spotted. We flashed messages, my team fanned out and especially kept its eyes peeled at public places for the vehicle.” Half-an-hour later, Anand’s phone rang and the SHO of the Parao police station said a blue Indica with a similar number had been found at the railway station.
“I asked him to clandestinely watch the vehicle for claimants but a two-hour wait yielded nothing. That’s when we decided to move in and called in the bomb disposal squad,” he explains.
After cordoning off the area, around 8 pm, the operation began as constable Jasbir Singh of the squad stepped into his special suit and approached the car. “He reported a box in a cloth bag in the locked car.
He broke the window glass, unlocked its doors and opened the box to find sweets in it as also Kashmir editions of two newspapers but no explosives,” Anand narrates.
“Though the services of a sniffer dog were also taken, we got no results. When he (Constable Jasbir Singh) tried to take apart the lining of the door next to the driver’s seat, he reported the presence of two geometry boxes and brown-paper wrapped packets,” Anand says.
The packets and the boxes showed nothing in the remote X-ray scanner. So, Jasbir Singh, once again was back on the job. The boxes had wires and detonators. Since these were not connected, the joint team of the Special Cell and the Ambala police decided to go ahead and remove the packets, the size of a bread loaf, since chances of an explosion had been considerably reduced.
On their removal, it was the forensics team from Madhuban that confirmed the packets contained RDX.
While the “discovery” is behind them and the investigations are on, there are significant lessons this operation has thrown up for the police as well. To begin with, toll plazas require high-resolution cameras as also inter-connectivity. Digitisation of vehicle registration records is also essential.
“The car came from Jammu and was captured by cameras at toll plazas on the way, but the picture quality is so poor that it is hard to make out who the occupants are. That’s precisely why we need high-resolution cameras. Inter-connectivity between toll plazas will help retrieve crucial information quickly,” says DGP Ranjeev Dalal.
While he insists that high-security number plates should be introduced on priority, the registration and sale and purchase of vehicles should be on a national grid to provide instant information. “Further, the National Highway Authority should keep security requirements in view while designing highways. At present, there is no place along the highways for the police to station their vehicles and keep a watch, thereby indicating lack of police dominance,” he added.