Indian Home Secy in Male to discuss coastal security

VK Duggal's visit comes as intelligence agencies warn of LeT's plans to use uninhabited islands in the Indian Ocean as bases for strikes.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2007 15:54 IST

With intelligence agencies cautioning of terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba's plans to use uninhabited islands in the Indian Ocean as bases for strikes against vital installations along the Indian coastline, New Delhi is sending a senior officer to the Maldives ensure this is nipped in the bud.

Home Secretary VK Duggal will be in Male for two days from Monday to discuss "bilateral relations in security matters, specially the coastal security of India", with the Maldives government, an official statement on Sunday said.

The home secretary will also discuss measures to increase co-operation between the two countries for tackling terrorism, organised-crimes and narcotics smuggling.

Duggal's four-member delegation includes Narcotics Control Bureau chief KV Verma.

During his visit, Duggal will also call on senior political leaders of the island nation.

Addressing the annual conference of the chiefs of state police and central paramilitary forces on November 22, 2006, Home Minister Shivraj Patil had warned that the "country's coastal areas are coming under increased threat from terrorist groups which have decided to use the sea route to infiltrate into India".

"There are plans by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives to occupy some uninhabited islands (in the Indian Ocean) and use them as bases for launching operations on the Indian coast," the home minister had said.

"They also plan to induct arms and ammunition through the sea routes. Simultaneously, they have also been collecting information regarding location of various refineries on or near the Indian coastline.

Some LeT operatives are also specifically being trained for sabotage of oil installations," he had said.

India signed a defence and security cooperation agreement with the Maldives in 1988, with New Delhi training the island nation's defence and police personnel, besides supplying equipment.

The Coast Guards of the two nations also conduct a biannual joint training exercise, apart from which Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships regularly visit the Maldives on goodwill and operational turn round (OTR) visits.

First Published: Jan 18, 2007 15:53 IST