The intelligence bureau (IB) has warned Delhi Police about a possible terror strike at north Delhi’s busy Chandni Chowk in the run-up to Independence Day.
The alert is important for two reasons: it is the first of its kind after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi taking over as Prime Minister, and the specificity of the sole, intended target.
Previous IB-generated terror forewarnings either mentioned south Delhi markets such as Greater Kailash M-block and Connaught Place – where multiple bombings have occurred in the past – as possible targets, or were general advisories asking the police to step-up security across popular market places in the Capital.
This time, however, the input is unambiguous and, according to sources in the IB, goes to the extent of stating that ‘militant Islamist cadre’ were chalking out a plan to ‘replicate’ attacks like the multiple bombings of February 2013 at Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad, in addition to a similar attack at Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar during serial blasts by the Indian Mujahideen (IM) in 2011.
What is worrying about the possible attack is the fact that Chandni Chowk won’t be one of the targets but the sole target this time around,” said an IB official.
He added that the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was the number one suspect.
While there is still an apprehension that multiple explosives will be used to wreak full-scale havoc, the epicentre is intended to be within a two to three kilometre radius to cause maximum loss of life, and not just multiple injuries,” the official added.
Meanwhile, after receiving the alert, Delhi Police have stepped up security across Chandni Chowk. Pickets have been set up on main roads and two-wheeler riders are being subjected to random checks.
However, the adjacent byways of the bustling north Delhi market – that have maximum concentration of the residential and commercial population – are still bereft of any apparent cover, according to local residents.
“There are innumerable encroachments on the road, especially in the interior parts of the market. Why do the police think that terrorists will attack only on the main road? We need better security all over the area – especially in the congested byways,” said Sanjay Bahargava, general secretary, Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal.