"Centre, UP Spar Over alert on Varanasi Attack "

Even as the finger of suspicion for Tuesday's Varanasi blast pointed at the Indian Mujahiddeen, the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday crossed swords over whether actionable intelligence inputs were passed on.

Exposing faultlines in the country's intelligence set up — which Union home minister P Chidambaram has been striving to wipe out post 26/11 — the state government virtually negated the Centre's assertions blaming lax security at Varanasi for Tuesday's attack.

In Varanasi on Wednesday, Chidambaram insisted that the UP government had been given intelligence inputs as early as February 25 on Varanasi being a possible terror target. ""We had cautioned all state governments that in the run-up to 26/11 and Babri Masjid demolition anniversary, we can expect threats from terrorists. In fact, as far as UP is concerned, a specific advice was given on February 25 that the Dasaswamedh Ghat was one of the targets.""

Later in the evening, he is learnt to have briefed the CCS in New Delhi about the blast and the alert which had existed there since February. Hours after Chidambaram's statement in Varanasi, UP cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh read out Mayawati's statement at a press conference in Lucknow that said there was no actionable intelligence on a terror strike in Varanasi.

""An alert was received on February 25 this year. But that was meant to be up to Dussehra in October. Expecting that input to be specific and actionable even after the festival is not justified. Stating that UP was alerted and given concrete information by central intelligence agencies regarding a possible attack in advance is far from reality,"" the CM's statement said. "