LAHORE - Again, the Lahore food street has been bombed and again security has been put on high alert. Again, unidentified people have been ‘booked’ and again Lahore Police investigations chief (DIG Zulifqar Hameed) has been tasked to unearth the perpetrators, though the probe into a previous blast at the same bazaar that was also led by him could reveal nothing.
A high-intensity bomb ripped through the Lahore food street bazaar on Thursday before noon, killing a man and wounding more than 16 others. A similar bomb blast in the same street had left five people dead and wounded dozens on July 6. Police sources say they believe both the blasts are identical.
On July 6, the Old Anarkali police registered a case against unidentified people under sections 302,324, 7ATA of Anti-Terrorism Act and 3/4 of Explosive Act and detained more than 150 suspects, most of them because of not having identification papers during ‘special checking’. No important arrest was made.
“The Lahore police appear to be unable to resolve complicated cases. Since the police have failed to arrest the rapist(s) of a five-year-old girl, how can they capture terrorists involved in serial bombings?” questioned Muhammad Salman, a trader.
“The poorly-trained and corruption-riddled police are unable to trace out such cases. They (cops) only rely on typical informers rather than applying scientific methods to unearth those masterminded the terrible assault. Simply, they are incapable,” an ex officer said. However, the former cop of Special Branch said that it was the job of the intelligence agencies to deter, disrupt, and detain those involved in terrorism.
Following the July’s explosion, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif chaired a meeting and directed the law enforcing agencies to unearth the perpetrators as soon as possible, saying: “It is police’s responsibility to give results and arrest the culprits as soon as possible. Ironically, the police are still groping in the dark with no arrest, no clue, and no progress yet in the previous terror attack. This time too, the chief minister issued the same directives and sought a report from the IGP. He also directed the top cop to ensure strict security arrangements for maintaining law and order in the province in view of Eidul Azha. Sources close to the investigators say the probe into the fresh attack could not reveal anything.
Despite serious security threats, no policeman was deputed to guard the locality when the bomb ripped through the food point.
The gates on both sides of the street were open for vehicular traffic and in the absence of any security check, the terrorists managed to get into the bazaar to detonate the time device for the second time. Ironically, an inquiry committee in its report presented to the CM Shahbaz Sharif blamed poor security, which provided an opportunity to the criminals to carry out the attack.
A Punjab Home Department official said on anonymity that the police security was not up to the mark across the provincial metropolis when the blast ripped through the food street.
Shopkeepers and shoppers slammed politicians and police for not bother to public protection, saying that no walk-thorough gates were installed at entry and exit points of the food street. “Police and politicians have been busy with their personal ambitions, leaving the public at the mercy of militants,” they added.