Several intelligence reports of an attack by terrorists — as well trained as the 10 who stormed Mumbai last year — have the security establishment on tenterhooks.
Intelligence agencies have frequently warned the government of inputs about preparations by Pakistan-based terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba to attack vital installations and crowded places like shopping malls.
“The frequency and the regularity with which the intelligence agencies have been reporting the attacks is worrying,” a senior government official said. “It means something is cooking across the border.”
“Petroleum installations — offshore and refineries — and nuclear installations located on the western coast are highly vulnerable,” an intelligence officer said.
Six refineries including Reliance Industries Ltd are on the west coast, in places like Jamnagar, Mumbai, Mangalore and Kochi.
“Schools, five-star hotels and shopping malls could also be targeted by the terrorists who try to hold people hostage rather than trigger a bomb blast,” the intelligence officer said.
A navy officer said they had been receiving the alerts and had sensitised units along the coast to the high level of continuing threat.
The home ministry last week asked the state and central agencies to beef up security at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay.
A sea-borne attack — where the terrorists infiltrate from the sea rather than the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir or use Nepal and Bangladesh for transit — does not give security agencies time to work on intelligence reports or tip-offs.
“Unless someone tells us that the boat carrying terrorists has started off from Karachi, there is really nothing to work on other than maintaining a general state of alert,” said an intelligence officer.