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Police on alert after terror tip

Police feels three untraced people have conducted a reconnaissance tour of sensitive places and vital installations in Mumbai could be suicide bombers, reports Presley Thomas.
Hindustan Times | By Presley Thomas, Mumbai
UPDATED ON OCT 27, 2007 04:00 AM IST

Three people, still untraced, over a few months conducted a reconnaissance tour of sensitive places and vital installations in the city, including Mahim Dargah, Haji Ali, Mahalaxmi temple, Siddhivinayak, JJ Hospital and Hilton Towers, and may have been suicide bombers, said top police officials on Friday.

The officials were reacting to the leak to the press about the suspected bombers’ reconnaissance mission. The officials had harsh words for the police officer who must have passed on the sensitive information to the media.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) K.L. Prasad said now that the three suspects were alerted through the media, the police might never catch them.

“The officer who betrays his uniform cannot be a legitimate son of his father,” Prasad said. “The officer has made this task an almost impossible one.”

Officials said the tedious process of tracking down the three persons, which commenced about two months ago, had reached a critical point after a taxi driver had earlier this week described the suspects to the police. Armed with the new information, the police might have been very close to catching the three, but now the months of hard work had turned futile.

The hunt had begun in earnest after the police received information from the taxi driver about the different dialect of one of the three suspected terrorists.

He also told the police the suspects asked him to take care of two bags that contained “unknown material” when they stepped out of the taxi on Tuesday near the Sidhivinayak temple.

The already suspicious taxi driver had a heated argument with the three and subsequently contacted the police. “We were informed that the Hindi of one of the suspects was close to that used in northern India and Kashmir,” Prasad said. “Also, the taxi driver informed us that the other two suspects talked in hushed tones.”

Prasad said the information was sent to the Anti-Terrorism Squad, crime branch units and to a few officers of the detection squads at police stations across the city.

“Officers should know that these persons, if terrorists, are highly motivated and we should do everything within the frame of the law to match their level of commitment,” he said. “Leaking such vital information is unpardonable.”

On the measures taken so far to catch the three and prevent untoward incidents, Prasad said every rally and, during the current festivals season, immersion ceremony was closely monitored and photographs of every person attending taken.

“We have decided to flash the sketches of the suspects across the country,” he said. “And we urge residents to contact the nearest police station if they find any of the three.”

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