Originally Published 2005-10-31 06:34:51 Published on Oct 31, 2005
( At the time of the blasts, I was on a flight from Delhi to Chennai. Immediately on my return home at 9 PM on October 29,2005, I heard of the blasts. At the request of an online journal, I had given my initial reactions in a brief write-up titled " Delhi Blasts: The Message". This article is an attempt at a more comprehensive analysis on the basis of further information available at 8 AM on October 30,2005)
Delhi Blasts: An Update
( At the time of the blasts, I was on a flight from Delhi to Chennai. Immediately on my return home at 9 PM on October 29,2005, I heard of the blasts. At the request of an online journal, I had given my initial reactions in a brief write-up titled " Delhi Blasts: The Message". This article is an attempt at a more comprehensive analysis on the basis of further information available at 8 AM on October 30,2005)


  1. At least 70 innocent civilians were killed and many more injured in three serial explosions at Delhi on the evening of October 29. The first explosion was at 5-25 PM at a crowded market-place in Paharganj in Central Delhi. The improvised explosive device (IED) is suspected to have been planted in a motorcycle or a rickshaw parked near a jewellery shop. The second IED was apparently kept inside a bag which was found on an empty seat inside a bus at 5-40 PM at Govindpuri in South Delhi. Some bus passengers, who noticed the abandoned bag, raised an alarm. The driver stopped the bus, picked up the bag and tried to throw it way. As he was doing so, the IED exploded. The third explosion was at 5-45 PM in a crowded market in Sarojini Nagar in South-West Delhi. It is suspected that this device was planted inside a van parked near the shops. This explosion caused the maximum fatalities and property damage since the original explosion of the IED was followed by two secondary explosions of cooking gas cylinders inside two eateries.The bus explosion did not appear to have caused any fatalities. The media has quoted police sources as claiming that they managed to defuse a fourth IED outside a bank in the Chandni Chowk area in old Delhi.


  1. The blasts took place one day after the Al Quds Day and two days before Diwali, an important Hindu festival. The Al Quds Day is observed by Muslims all over the world on the lasr Friday of the Ramadan fasting period to condemn the Israeli occupation of East Jersalem where the holy mosque of Al Quds is located. It is considered the third holiest mosque for the Muslims after the two in Saudi Arabia. Often, jihadi terrorists plan their terrorist strikes to coincide with the Al Quds Day. The Mumbai explosions of March 1993 were planned to be carried out on Al Quds Day, but the perpetrators advanced it by a week following the arrest of one of their supporters by the Mumbai Police as they were afraid that during the interrogation he might tell them about their plans. The blasts also took place on a day when a Delhi court was scheduled to announce details of sentence in a case in which some Muslim youth, suspected to be belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), have already been found guilty of attempting a terrorist strike in the Red Fort in New Delhi in January,2000. The court had, however, defered the sentencing to October 31. Interestingly, the blasts also coincided with the first anniversary of the last telecast message of Osama bin Laden. Since then, he has been silent.


  1. The blasts targeted innocent civilians on a day when hundreds of thousands of people, mainly non-Muslims, flock to the shops of Delhi to do their shopping for Diwali. The market rush in the days preceding Diwali is comparable to the pre-Christmas shopping spree in the Western countries. It would, therefore, be reasonable to infer that the terrorists intended to kill mainly Hindus as they prepare themselves for one of their most important festivals, on a day which is equally significant for the Muslims for the purpose of their so-called jihad against non-Muslims. The blasts came a few days after the US State Department had issued an advisory to its citizens about the dangers of an Al Qaeda terrorist strike against American establishments/nationals in different cities of India.Though there have been reports of some foreigners being the victims of the blasts, there is no reason to believe that the blasts were directed against foreigners.


  1. From an examination of the evidence available so far, the blasts seem to have been tactical strikes in the nature of reprisal attacks and not of a strategic nature. These were intended mass casualty attacks meant to cause mass casualties and panic and to demonstrate the continuing capability of the terrorists to hit at a time and place of their choosing despite claims of success by the security forces in their counter-terrorism operations. If the blasts were the handiwork of jihadi terrorists, these were also meant to reassure their followers and sympathisers in India that despite the damages suffered by the Pakistan-based jihadi terrorist infrastructure due to the quake in Pakistan-Occuped Kashmir (POK) and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), their capability for action in Indian territory and their motivation remain undamaged.
  1. The blasts do not appear to have involved the use of nitrogenous fertilisers, which would have required the use of large quantities. The Police have claimed that they suspected the use of RDX explosives. One should not rule out the use of peroxide-based explosives in an act of copy-cat terrorism. In the recent explosions in London too, the Police initially suspected the use of high-grade military explosives, but subsequently found that the terrorists had actually used peroxide-based explosives fabricated from commonly available materials. If the Police claim of having defused a fourth IED is correct, they should be able to establish quickly the nature of the explosive material, detonator and timer used.
  1. There is no evidence so far to show that these were acts of suicide terrorism. Nor is there evidence so far of the possible use of remote-control devices or mobile telephones.


  1. There have been previous instances of multiple, well-synchronised serial blasts by the Sikh and Jihadi terrorists in Indian territory. While the previous instances of serial blasts by the jihadi terrorists were meant to cause mass casualties (examples: those of Mumbai in March,1993, and of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu in February 1998), those of the Sikhs (Example: the transistor bomb blasts of June,1985, in Delhi) were meant to cause mass panic. Anger was the motivating factor in all these instances--- anger of the Muslims over the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December,1992, and over the perceived failure of the Police to protect them during the subsequent communal riots and the anger of the Sikhs over the entry of the Indian Army into the Golden Temple (Operation Blue Star) in June 1984 to flush out a large number of terrorists, who had taken shelter there. While the anger of the Sikhs had considerably diminished post-1995, there have recently been fresh signs of anger in some sections of the Sikhs over the failure of successive Governments to act against those, whom they consider responsible for the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi which followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, by two of her Sikh security guards on October 31,1984.


  1. No organisation has so far claimed responsibility for the blasts. Only the Sikh terrorists, the Al Qaeda and the International Islamic Front (IIF), of which the Al Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) are amongst the members, have the capability for organising the kind of well-co-ordinated blasts which struck Delhi on the evening of October 29, 2005.The strongest suspicion will be on the Al Qaeda and the IIF,particularly the LET and the JEM. The Sikh terrorist remnants may not have targeted Hindu victims in the days preceding Diwali since Diwali is as important for the Sikhs as for the Hindus and the victims are likely to have included many Sikhs.
  1. The blasts of October 29 have come in the wake of the propaganda against India stepped up by the Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the IIF following the recent visit to the US in July,2005, by Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh. One has to seriously take into account the possibility that the Al Qaeda and/or the IIF might have now targeted India because of its open alignment, as seen by them, with the US on matters affecting the vital intetests of the Islamic Ummah.
  1. Please see in this connection my earlier article titled "Al Qaeda & India" at http://www.saag.org/papers15/paper1498.html and my following observations in the article on Nuclear Iran at http://www.saag.org/papers16/paper1562.html .

"The Iran nuclear issue poses a serious policy dilemma for India: how to co-operate with the international community (read US) in preventing the emergence of another military nuclear power with security implications for India, while not allowing our traditional good relations with Iran to be jeopardized? How to avoid misperceptions, particularly in the Islamic world, that India which, in the past, accused the US and other Western countries of adopting double standards in nuclear matters, has now started adopting similar double-standards? How to avoid providing a pretext to Al Qaeda, which has so far kept away from India, for targeting India because of misperceptions that India has become anti-Islam and the Asian poodle of the US?

"Till 2003, Indian Muslims had by and large kept away from the LET and other Pakistani members of bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF), but recent reports show that the LET is making a break-through in the recruitment of Indian Muslims. The US is far away from the Islamic world, but India is right in the middle of it. Forty-five per cent of the world's Muslims live in the Indian sub-continent. India has to be more cautious in its policies towards the Islamic world than the US." (29-10-05)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, International Terrorism Watch Programme (ITWP), Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and Convenor of its Chennai Chapter. E-mail: [email protected])

* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.

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