Too many terror alerts in Delhi make public fume

By Sahil Makkar, IANS

New Delhi : Security agencies in the Indian capital are on their toes once again, this time anticipating a terror attack on Tihar Jail. But many Delhi residents are fed up with the panic and confusion that such alerts generate.

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Recent intelligence inputs reveal that militants from the terror outfit Harkat-ul Mujahideen may carry out a suicide attack on Delhi’s high security jail to rescue terrorists mainly involved in the December 2001 parliament attack and December 2000 Red Fort strike.

“The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has put out an alert about a possible rescue attack by terrorists. We are taking due precautions and unprecedented security arrangements have been made to avoid any untoward situation,” a senior jail official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

“We have installed closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) inside and outside the jail to monitor minute movements and Delhi Police have been also alerted,” the official added.

Security at the Tihar Jail, where more than 11,000 inmates including terrorists, are lodged, is handled by the Delhi Armed Police, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

But with frisking being intensified and more security checks being put up at public places – like railway stations, courts, crowded markets, temples or the Delhi Metro – not everyone is happy.

“Just last month when television channels started flashing news of six Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) militants entering Delhi with arms and ammunition to carry out blasts on the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, I made a frantic call to my sister asking her not to use any public transport, specially the Delhi Metro, which is a vulnerable terror target,” said Abhishek Kumar, an advertising executive.

Om Arora, a shopkeeper, too called up his lawyer son who practises in the Delhi High Court.

“I started shivering with fear upon hearing that terrorists would strike at the high court. I was very scared and asked my son to stop going to court till the threat was over, as the alert came a few days after the Uttar Pradesh court blasts (Nov 23, 2007),” Arora told IANS.

Harbans Lakhina, a city-based businessman, said: “I deliberately missed my Bangalore flight after listening to reports that there could be a possible blast at the Indira Gandhi International Airport last month. It is always better to take some extra caution.”

But police officials said they could not afford to let the defences down.

“Most of the time, such threats turns out to be fake and vague, but security agencies can’t afford to take even a single terror input casually. On an average, out of a hundred threats, only one comes out to be true,” a senior official from Delhi Police’s special cell – a specialised wing to combat terrorism – told IANS.

“I must say the media should act responsibly as it creates panic and tension among people.”

With the Republic Day around the corner, when the country’s top leaders, among them President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as well as international guests, including French President Nicholas Sarkozy, will gather to witness a grand spectacle Jan 26, the security agencies are putting up a virtually impregnable shield around the venue, Rajpath.

According to a newspaper report, terrorists may also target police establishments in the capital. As a result, all police stations across Delhi have been put on high alert.

Sources said special instructions have been issued to beef up security around vital installations and public places like markets and cinema halls and to frisk people thoroughly. It has been also learnt that terrorist might target Delhi-bound trains to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.