About 200 terrorists are trying to sneak into India in a bid to attack schools and religious places ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit this month but security forces are fully prepared to foil their attempts, a top army official said on Thursday.
Security has been intensified for the Republic Day celebrations across the country after intelligence agencies warned last month that Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) could plan an attack in India to coincide with the high-profile visit.
“There are general inputs that terrorists might try to attack soft targets including schools, religious places, army convoys and other civilian areas,” said Lt Gen KH Singh, commander of the army’s 16 Corps. “There are 200 terrorists waiting in 36 launching pads across the border on the other side of the Pir Panjal range to sneak into Indian side, we have so far been able to foil their attempts.”
Army chief Dalbir Singh said this week the terror infrastructure across the border was intact and Pakistan continued to support attacks in India “despite suffering casualties” on its soil.
Security analysts say Pakistan has stepped up firing across the border and has been trying to encourage infiltration with an eye on Obama’ s visit to send the message that Jammu and Kashmir is disputed territory.
“Quick reaction teams (QRT) of police, PCR vans have been kept on high alert and new check posts have been set up every eight to ten kilometres to ensure the Republic Day celebrations go incident-free,” said Shakeel Ahmed Beigh, deputy inspector general of police (Jammu Kathua Range).
Obama will be the chief guest at the ceremony on January 26 in Delhi after he accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.
“Coordination between Pak army and its other agencies, including ISI, has gone up in these launching camps, suggesting they want to energise more attacks,” Lt Gen Singh said.
Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Sayeed reportedly visited areas along the border in Pakistan less than two months ago to motivate terrorists to carry out attacks against India, the commander said.
“They (the terrorists) may try to do something to create news. But we are well prepared,” said defence minister Manohar Parrikar, responding to the reports.