LeT threat to nuclear plants

Home Minister Patil says the N-deal has made India's atomic plants more prone to terror attacks, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 13:18 IST

The Indo-US nuclear agreement has made the country’s atomic power plants "highly vulnerable" to terror threats, Home Minister Shivraj Patil told India’s police chiefs on Wednesday.

He also put critical infrastructure -- including installations of the oil and natural gas, defence, communications and the IT sectors -- at the top of the 'vulnerable' list.

In his inaugural address at the three-day conference of directors-general and inspectors-general of police, he said: "Some Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives are also being trained specifically for the sabotage of oil installations. There are plans to 'occupy' some uninhabited islands and use them as bases for launching operations on the Indian coast."

The minister said terrorists planned to induct arms and ammunition into the country through sea routes. "We understand they have been collecting information about the location of various refineries on or near the Indian coastline," he said. "The mischief mongers are constantly on the lookout for new targets, adopting new strategies and tactics, and widening their sphere of operations."

About Jammu and Kashmir, Patil said protecting "soft targets" would continue to remain a priority for security forces. He said that perceptibly lower levels of violence were essential to allow the political process to take the desired direction.

The home minister urged Naxalites to emulate their icons like Kanu Sanyal and K Venu, who realised the futility of an armed struggle and ultimately came overground.

Although Patil declared he was ready to resolve conflicts through dialogue rather than force, he warned that the government could not permit the "wilful use of violence by militant groups against the common man while talking of peace". This message is being seen as aimed at the ULFA in Assam. The central government put an end to a ceasefire agreement with the group, because the latter kept violating it.

Patil described the "continuing violence in Manipur and the surge in depredations by the ULFA in the Brahmaputra valley as very worrying indicators".

First Published: Nov 23, 2006 02:00 IST