With the discovery that Lashkar-e-Tayyeba infiltrators in Kupwara planned to target political leaders and rallies, the government has intensified its efforts to ensure an incident-free general election.
“They (terrorists) are very, very desperate,” a senior government functionary told Hindustan Times. “Usually cross-border infiltration starts in April-May when the snow in the higher reaches starts melting. Last week’s infiltration was clearly to target elections. The threat perception is very high.”
He said the six-day gun battle in J&K’s border district of Kupwara was only an indicator of the challenges ahead.
Intelligence suggests that other LeT teams are waiting across the border to enter India from J&K and the western India-Pakistan border ahead of the polls.
An indicator of the seriousness attached to these inputs was that on Thursday home minister P Chidambaram took a last-minute decision to inspect the Rajasthan and Punjab borders with Pakistan.
“The visit was aimed at raising the level of alertness,” said a home ministry official.
He pointed out that the inputs received in Delhi were being shared with the states concerned on a real-time, round-the-clock basis through the recently activated Multi Agency Centre. Also, Raman Srivastava, special secretary (internal security), has been tasked to remain in touch with police chiefs of all important states to keep a tab on the steps being taken. The second signal, about how serious the threats were, came on Friday.
The Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave home secretary Madhukar Gupta a three-month extension to ensure that there was no break in continuity at the top of the internal-security establishment at this “crucial time”.
The other reason for giving Gupta an extension was the political propriety of giving the new government a free hand to make important appointments.
Cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar had earlier denied reports that the Election Commission had tied the government’s hands.
Intelligence inputs had also dictated the government’s reluctance to play host to the Indian Premier League this year.