On December 12 fax machines at police headquarters in different states went off. It was a message from the Intelligence Bureau about an escalated terror threat to big cities.
“It said a terrorist team comprising Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has sneaked inside the country through the Kupwara sector in Kashmir,” West Bengal Home Secretary, Ardhendu Sen told HT.
The alert was received by the West Bengal DGP and Kolkata Police Commissioner. “Though it doesn’t mention any specific information about the militant group or where they might be headed, the IB message says they might be headed for Kolkata or Delhi or Mumbai and might conduct a suicide or terrorist attack on vital installations in these cities,” Sen said.
Most police forces went on high alert for trained fidayeen (suicide) operatives, believed to be Pashto speakers, after the report. The targets: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the American consulate in Kolkata, the Bombay Stock Exchange and RSS headquarters in Delhi.
Government functionaries told HT, that as had been the case with the 26/11, the intelligence received was “sketchy” and “rather diffused” but authorities are taking no chances.
Another set of inputs suggest that either members of the fidayeen squads or local supporters have already managed to carry out a reconnaissance at Mumbai to check out guest houses and smaller hotels.
Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and all of Gujarat have been put on high alert with extra deployment at all vital installations in these cities.
Mumbai Police, however, sought to underplay the issue. Commissioner D. Sivanandhan said no alert about “Taliban-trained fidayeen sneaking into the city” had been received. “It is not true. There is a perpetual threat to places like BSE, BARC and Siddhivinayak temple. We are always on alert.”