A rally amid bomb blasts


The serial blasts in Patna has left the police and the administration bewildered. The explosions, it seems, were quite well planned and well executed. Planting improvised explosive devices at more than a dozen places and without getting caught has perplexed the authorities. It includes around ten timer devices planted at Gandhi Maidan, the venue of a high security rally, owing to the security threat to BJP's Prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The scale at which the terrorist outfit involved in this ghastly crime executed its plan requires looks grand. It must not have been possible for the organization to assemble all the things for this act in a day or two. The week was also marked with the visit of the President to attend the convocation ceremony of IIT. The police had claimed to make proper security arrangements. However, now this claims looks hollow as the serial blasts would have required more than couple of days to execute properly. The bomb blasts in Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya couple of month back is still in investigation mode. The blasts have created an atmosphere of fear and distrust in the city. However, the chain of events that kept on happening while the bombs were exploding at regular interval leaves much more to think and plan in future. Was there any standard protocol being followed during these crucial 3-4 hours of serial bomb blasting ?

Two decades back when serial bomb blasts had not much been heard of, the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Bombay (now Mumbai) shook the conscience of the citizen. On 12th March, 1993, a total of 13 explosions took place in various parts of the city. It claimed more than 250 lives and hundreds were injured, some of them critically. In a similar fashion, a series of explosions happened in Patna, though explosive used were of low intensity and casualties  fewer. Two decades later, the authorities were still clueless to handle the situation. This aspect became glaring after the Mumbai terror attack in 2011. The Patna administration was simply caught-off-the-guard to handle the situation. When the first explosion occurred at Gandhi Maidan, was any standard protocol followed in ensuring the lives of thousands of people assembled there? It has been reported that when the explosions were taking place in Gandhi Maidan, announcements were being made from the dais about it being a type bursts. Indeed, it was a very good announcement to contain the rumor which could have been resulted in stampede leading to casualties at much higher scale. But if the explosion would have been restricted to only one, then this could have been valid argument. What about the second, third, and other explosions? Does the argument of 'tyre burst' still holds good? The first explosion in Gandhi Maidan occurred at 11:40 AM and the next at 12:05 PM and the last at 12:25 PM with three explosions in between. Were the organizers sure that subsequent explosions will be also of low intensity and will cause one or two casualties ? The organizers and the administration also did not take any clue when people had started leaving Gandhi Maidan by themselves. It is here that the expertise of the body authorized to take decision at such crucial moments come into play. Whether the rally would have been allowed to continue or a phase withdrawal of the crowd would have been initiated after first or second explosions, is a debatable question. It bring much fear if one imagine had the intensity of the subsequent explosions been manifold, what could have been the scale of casualties. The rally continued amid bomb blasts. Does it indicate the power of democracy or a failure of the decision making body?

It clearly indicates a serious lapse in responsibility both on part of organizers and the administration. Who would have been responsible had any of the explosion been violent enough to claim scores of life? Were the authorities sure enough of the low intensity explosions that the rally was allowed to continue despite bomb blasts happening in different parts of the Gandhi Maidan? Saving stampede by announcing fake information can not be a criteria to not follow any strategy to evacuate the people from the Maidan when serial bomb blasts in the city has already been confirmed.