Security forces in Kolkata are on high alert following a central intelligence warning that the city’s port may be the target of an attack by militants posing as fishermen, home ministry officials told HT on Tuesday.
Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) headquarters in Delhi alerted top West Bengal and Kolkata police officials on Monday through an email, cautioning them of a possible attack on the port by Pakistani navy-backed terrorists.
The Indian navy moved two warships — INS Khukri and INS Sumitra — out of the port after receiving the alert and increased patrolling in the sea. The ships were supposed to be open to the public on Wednesday and Thursday.
The alert came after Pakistani security forces foiled an attempt by al-Qaeda militants to capture a Pakistani frigate at Karachi in September. The militants aimed to use the ship to attack Indian and American vessels in the Indian Ocean.
“We came to know about the alert from the CISF,” said deputy commissioner of police (port division) Imran Wahab. “We had a meeting late into the night and Indian navy officers were also present.”
Sources said security agencies intercepted conversations about targeting Indian naval assets at Kolkata and swung into action, in part, because of September’s Karachi attack.
“Marine patrolling at the India-Bangladesh sea border in the Bay of Bengal has been enhanced in view of the alert,” said commodore Ravi Ahluwalia. “We have electronic surveillance on seagoing vessels, especially the fishing trawlers plying in the region.”
According to the alert, terrorists are likely to enter Indian waters posing as fishermen and are backed by Pakistan marines, an elite marine commando unit of the Pakistani navy.
“Intelligence inputs were promptly shared with port authorities, navy, coast guard, Kolkata police and other counter terror agencies and they have been asked to remain on high alert,” a Union home ministry official said.
Security sources said al-Qaeda’s new wing for India and Pakistan may be responsible for Sunday’s suicide attack on the Pakistani side at the Wagah border that killed over 60 people, and militants might carry out similar attacks in India.