Tight security, heavy police force, and more men of the Border Security Force on the scene… the terror threat to the Bathinda oil refinery sure is big. Within days of its inauguration on April 28 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the refinery has come under the protection of police force from six districts. It must be the severity of the threat that on Saturday forced the BSF to add 60 men to the ring deployed on Friday.
The HMEL Guru Gobind Singh Refinery (a joint venture of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Mittal Energy Limited, thus, HMEL) at Bathinda's Phullakari village is just 98 km from the Pakistan border. It's not the first intelligence bureau input of threat to the installation in which global steel magnate Laxmi Niwas Mittal has a major stake.
On Friday, Nirmal Singh Dhillon, inspector general of police in the Bathinda zone, and senior superintendent of police Sukhchain Singh Gill led the teams that combed the fields around the refinery with the help of sniffer dogs and gadgets that detect explosives.
Deputy magistrate Kamal Kishor Yadav already has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC (which bans unlawful assemblies) from May 2 to June 30. A gathering of five or more people, a rally without permission or provocative speech will all invite tough action.
Superintendent of police Gurmit Singh and deputy superintendent of police (special branch) Surat Lal are men in charge of security at the vital installation. Common people and regular villagers are being frisked at checkpoints and all transport moving in and out of the city is under the police vigil.
"We have hundreds of sand drums at the refinery gate, and regular examination of internal security," said the DSP. "We are in liaison with the refinery guards and even the drivers of the establishment can go in only after the identity is confirmed."
"More than 60 personnel of the BSF and 15 policemen from each of the six districts in the Bathinda zone, are part of the extra security force," said DSP Surat Lal.
"Barricades are up on different roads, and every vehicle is under scan. Only registered vehicles can go past the refinery gates."
"The security arrangement is complete," said SSP Gill. "The police have raided suspected hideouts of terrorists. We and the BSF are ready for any situation."