Uttar Pradesh police tightened security in all districts on Saturday following intelligence inputs that “anti-national elements” dressed like Hindu saints were planning to carry out “spectacular” attacks at prominent religious sites and public places in the state.
The inputs said the 17-18 men had been trained by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence in Hindu religious practices, and might try to blend into the local populace before carrying out strikes.
“A group of 17-18 anti-national elements, trained in Hindu rituals, is planning a spectacular incident at prominent religious sites and other sensitive spots in the guise of sadhus,” the letter issued by UP police read.
The alert comes roughly a month after Hindu hardline leader Yogi Adityanath took over as chief minister of the state, and two days after UP’s anti-terrorist squad busted a suspected terror module along with sleuths from five other states.
New UP director general of police, Sulkhan Singh, who took over on Saturday, said he “won’t be able to comment immediately on a specific issue”. “But, I can assure you that we are capable of neutralising any threat,” Singh told HT.
A senior official said police tightened security in crowded places as well as important pilgrimages such as Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi. Besides, he said, additional security personnel were deployed at Taj Mahal in Agra, the high court in Allahabad and its Lucknow bench, the assembly and secretariat buildings and other important government offices in Lucknow.
Later in the evening, the state ATS’ IG Aseem Arun told ANI that the “hype is unnecessary” and that the security agencies are always on alert.
The MP police letter referred to a 2016 incident in which eight suspected members of the banned Students Islamic Movement if India (Simi) had also assumed the guise of Hindus to escape attention. The men were killed after escaping from a jail in Madhya Pradesh last year.
The document also cited the example of Gaus Mohammad, a suspected terrorist who was found living under a Hindu name, Karan Khatri, in Lucknow in March. “In February, intelligence agencies in the state were tipped off about four dozen terrorists sneaking into UP through the porous border with Nepal,” read the letter.
Some of these people, intelligence agencies believe, were specially trained by the ISI to fox security forces’ attention by their saffron clothes and knowledge of Hindu scriptures and practices.
“In the past as well, we have information about ISI’s “Operation Krishna India” in which the agency would send its agents in the guise of Hindus saints,” the letter added.
Meanwhile, a Lucknow court allowed eight-day police remand of the two suspected terrorists Ahtesham-ul-Haq and Mohammad Faizan to UP’s anti terrorist squad (ATS) .