On January 24, reports surfaced that the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) had arrested nine people over the past few days apparently for having links with the Islamic State (IS). According to officers, the nine were planning to poison food and water sources at big public gatherings — possibly the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj and at Republic Day celebrations.
The ATS says the arrested men are engineers and pharmacists, and had apparently prepared chemical mixtures that they were planning to contaminate food and water with.
If true, the terror plot is both deadly and dastardly: the men were allegedly planning to hit innocent people going about their lives, celebrating a happy occasion.
Even though this potential attack was foiled in time, here’s a look at some of the worst instances of India and Indians being struck by terrorism.
The 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks
The 2008 attacks on the country’s financial capital shook India. As many as 164 people were killed in the terror strikes and another 600 injured.
The attackers targeted several locations, including the Taj Mahal Palace, the Oberoi Trident Hotel, Nariman House, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Chabad House, the Cama Hospital and the Leopold Café. The attacks ended a full four days later, with NSC commandos flushing out the last of the terrorists from the Taj hotel in Operation Black Tornado.
Of the 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives, only one — Ajmal Kasab — was captured alive. He was later hanged.
In 2001, terrorists from the LeT and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) attacked the seat of India’s democracy — the Parliament complex. Five gunmen, carrying AK47 rifles, grenade launchers, pistols and grenades, managed to enter Parliament's, premises using a fake identity sticker on their car.
Once inside, they opened fire, killing nine people — five Delhi Police officers, a woman Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, two Parliament staffers and a gardener.
All five terrorists were killed. A journalist who was injured in the attack died later.
Delhi Market Bombings
Delhi had a bloody Diwali in 2005 when on the eve of the Diwali festival, 67 people were killed in a series of three bombings that took place across the city. On October 29, 2005, at 5.35pm, the first blast took place in Paharganj, killing 17 people.
The deadliest blast was around half an hour later, at the bustling Sarojini Nagar market, in which 50 people lost their lives. The third blast at Okhla injured 13 people.
Mumbai local trains blasts
On July 11, 2006, Mumbai’s lifeline — its local train network — was rocked by a series of blasts.
Seven RDX bombs went off on the busiest Western line, killing 189 people and injuring more than 800. Between 6 pm and 6:30 pm, the peak hour for commuters, bombs went off at Matunga Road, Mahim, Bandra, Khar Road, Jogeshwari, Bhayandar and Borivali stations.
The impact of the blasts was so powerful that overhead sheds at some of the stations were blown to pieces, and mangled bodies were strewn across tracks.
Nine years later, five of the blast convicts were sentenced to death and seven others given life imprisonment.
2010 Dantewada Bus Attack
On 17 May, 2010, Naxals in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district had laid a landmine on a throughfare, which exploded as a civilian bus passed over it. The bus was blown to smithereens and fatalities between 31 to 44 people killed were reported. This included several Special Police Officers working in the troubled district. But it also included several civilians and passersby who were injured or killed in the bus blast.
This was the first instance when a Naxal group in the area deliberately targetted civilians in the zone.