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Nationwide alert following Uttar Pradesh blasts


New Delhi : After terrorists struck Friday in Uttar Pradesh, setting off serial blasts in three cities in which at least 13 people were killed, security agencies and police forces sounded high alert and mounted strict vigil in several important cities across the country.

In New Delhi, all sensitive installations as well as the Supreme Court, the high court and lower courts complexes were put under tightened security. The city borders with neighbouring states, as well as areas adjoining them, especially the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, were brought under stricter police vigil.

“Though there are no specific inputs about possible terror threats, we have taken unprecedented security measures and are fully prepared. Bomb disposal squads and dog squads are already on high alert,” Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.

Additional police personnel, bomb disposal squads as well as sniffer dogs have been deployed at Delhi Metro stations, railway stations and bus terminals.

The Delhi Police barricaded various intersections and put metal detectors in place at entry points in busy markets. In the Capital’s VIP areas the security agencies were keeping a close watch.

A high alert was sounded in Hyderabad, which has already suffered twice from terrorist strikes in recent past. The police beefed up security around places of worship and at all vital installations in the southern city.

Besides, security was also strengthened in the communally sensitive areas of the old city and in the IT district, Hitec City. Policemen erected barricades and checked vehicles at different places.

The city was already on alert because of the Friday prayers and the recent violent protest against controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen in Kolkata.

Following the violence in the West Bengal capital on Wednesday, the paramilitary Rapid Action Force (RAF) was patrolling sensitive areas of the city.

At the historic Mecca Masjid, where a blast during Friday prayers killed nine people on May 18, the police mounted high vigil.

On Aug 25, two near simultaneous blasts at a park and a popular eatery claimed 44 lives.

The police in Karnataka, particularly in the cyber capital city of Bangalore, were on high alert Friday as a pre-cautionary measure after serial blasts in Uttar Pradesh.

“All senior officers, police sub-divisions across the state and mobile police patrol parties have been alerted following the U.P. blasts,” a city police spokesperson said. “All precautionary steps needed have been taken,” he said.

The West Bengal government sounded a general alert across the state and in Kolkata. “We have alerted all our district police stations to keep vigil in their respective areas. Though we don’t have any specific information, the police are now looking out for any suspicious activities,” West Bengal Inspector General (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

A directionless agitation Wednesday against granting Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen extended stay in India turned the heart of the eastern metropolis into a scene of flaming vehicles and scampering schoolchildren, forcing the authorities to call in the army for the first time after the Babri Masjid demolition aftermath in 1992.

With the names of terrorist outfits like the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) cropping up as the instigators behind the Kolkata violence, the police think there was more to the riots than just a spontaneous outburst of Muslims against controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen’s presence in India.

The Kolkata Police is also trying to pinpoint the Islamic group’s presence behind the unprecedented rioting in the West Bengal capital Wednesday, which forced the deployment of army personnel and an imposition of curfew.

A high security alert has been sounded in Nagpur, where additional forces are already deployed in the state’s second capital in view of the ongoing winter session of the Maharashtra legislatur.

Nagpur’s Commissioner of Police Satyapal Singh Friday issued orders to tighten vigil at the city airport and railway station besides other important installations and crowded places.

This has been done because several ministers and legislators leaving the city to utilize the weekend holiday from the legislature session for other commitments.

More than half the state secretariat shifts to Nagpur from Mumbai for the winter session and hundreds of political workers and people descend on the city to participate in processions, sit-ins and delegations to ministers.

Across Madhya Pradesh, all transit points were sealed and surveillance intensified at all public places like weekly markets and buildings of importance. “Armed personnel have been deployed at all important establishments, including courts”, Director-General of Police A.R. Pawar said in capital city Bhopal.

“Special Armed Force (SAF) personnel have been deputed in all big and sensitive districts, including Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Jabalpur and Gwalior. We are searching all the long-distance buses besides keeping an eye on those coming by trains”, Pawar said told IANS.

Stricter security is also being conducted at airports, hotels and lodges, metal detectors and sniffer dogs have been deployed and close circuit cameras installed at several places, the official said.

Vigil has been mounted at railway stations, bus stands, cinema halls and crowded markets in view of the alleged presence of a large number of activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Pakistani nationals in the state, police officials said.

Security was beefed up in Chhattisgarh capital Raipur and industrial cities Bhilai and Korba Friday.

“Alert has been sounded and security toned up at shopping mall sin Raipur and other busy market places besides at cinema halls, bus standx and railway stations,” Girdhari Nayak, Inspector General, police headquarters, told IANS by phone.

He added security has also been heightened at steel city Bhilai, where state-run Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) flagship unit is located, and Korba town as well having several thermal power plants of state government and a National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) major power production unit.

Orissa instructed the police chiefs of all its 30 districts to remain alert.”We have issued standard instructions to all the police chiefs of the state’s 30 districts, asking them to remain alert,” state Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda told IANS.