Security was enhanced on Thursday at the Taj Mahal with top police officials leading a security drill on the Yamuna river flowing near the monument, against the backdrop of reports of the 17th century marvel being a possible target of the Islamic State terror group.
Superintendent of police Sushil Ghule led the security drill while crossing the Yamuna. He was accompanied by teams from the bomb disposal squad and SWAT besides Taj security personnel.
Though the SP maintained that this was part of a regular security drill associated with the Taj Mahotsav to be held this week, later senior superintendent of police (SSP) Preetinder Singh acknowledged that security was stepped up in view of media reports of a pro-Islamic State media group issuing a warning of attacks on the Taj Mahal.
“There has been no security threat received nor any alert issued officially in this regard but going by media reports, security at Taj Mahal has been enhanced,” the SSP told Hindustan Times.
“With Taj Mahal being a destination of not only national but international importance, we already have routine security drills but for now, these security drills have been enhanced,” the SSP added.
“These security drills are now to take place every six hours and would be led by a gazetted officer,
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has been entrusted with the security within the Taj Mahal, Preetinder Singh said.
“We are prepared for any circumstances all round the year when it comes to any important destination including Taj Mahal. The security of Taj Mahal is reviewed time to time and additions are made according to the requirement,” the SSP said.
However, deputy inspector general (Agra Zone) Mahesh Kumar Mishra denied any intelligence input received about threats to the Taj.
Agra will host the Taj Mahotsav – a 10-day festival of art and craft from March 18 -- and Shilpgram, the venue of the festival, is just a kilometre east of the monument.
A pro-Islamic State media group has warned of attacks in India and published a graphic depicting the Taj Mahal as a possible target. The graphic by the Ahwaal Ummat Media Center was posted on a channel of Telegram, the encrypted communication app, on March 14, according to Site Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi activity on the web.