Gujarat and the national capital were on high alert with several teams of National Security Guard commandos on standby in the wake of intelligence inputs suggesting that a group of 8 to 10 terrorists may have sneaked into India from Pakistan. The alert came on the eve of Shivratri festival on Monday.
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval told the Gujarat police top brass on Saturday about the input on a team of 10 terrorists sneaking into the State to carry out terror strikes. Senior officials in the State claimed that Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Naseer Khan Janjua informed his Indian counterpart about the group of fidayeen from the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e Muhammed on a major mission in the State.
Following General Janjua’s message, Mr. Doval sent a detailed note to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) which issued a warning to the security agencies in Gujarat about a possible attack, particularly at “some coastal pilgrimage centres in Saurashtra or Kutch.”
“We have received four teams of NSGs. They have been deployed in Ahmedabad and Somnath temple. Along with the State police, NSG personnel are on standby mode,” said Gujarat DGP P.C. Thakur, who also issued a notification cancelling leave of all police officials and personnel and asking them to report for duty immediately.
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel told the media in Delhi that the authorities had taken all measures, so there was no need to worry. “There is nothing to worry about. We are taking appropriate security measures,” Ms. Patel said.
“Somnath temple on the Saurashtra coast is on high alert with beefed up security ahead of Shivratri festival on Monday,” Mr. Thakur said.
Meanwhile, all public functions to celebrate Shivratri at the historical Somnath temple have been cancelled.
Police have also heightened security at another historical pilgrimage centre, Dwarka, and Bhavnath in Junagadh where a huge fair is organised on Shivratri. “We have received IB inputs that 8-10 LeT or JeM terrorists have entered Gujarat. The BSF, police, Coast Guard and other agencies are working on the information. Combing operations are under way to hunt down the militants,” said Gujarat border range IG A.K. Jadeja.
The national capital went into alert mode on Sunday, after some inputs suggested that the terrorists could have moved from Gujarat to Delhi.
Late on Saturday night, Gujarat’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home) P.K. Taneja held a marathon meeting with top police officials and also representatives of the BSF, the Coast Guard and other agencies to take stock of the security deployment at sensitive and vulnerable places in the State after the IB shared its inputs.
This is the second major alert about a possible terror strike in the State, which shares a land and sea border with neighbouring Pakistan.
In Delhi, security at public places such as malls, cinema halls, markets and along the Delhi borders was stepped up. Police sources said there was no move to cancel the leave of its personnel, or any such emergency action. The NSG teams were on standby as is the routine, officials said.
Meanwhile, Home Ministry sources said a BSF patrolling team had seized a Pakistani boat in Kutch on Friday. They reported seeing some men running to the Pakistan side, one source said.
However, officials insist that the recovery of the boat and the terror alert were not connected.
This was the sixth boat recovered by the BSF since November in the Kutch area. Another boat was recovered about 15 days ago.
On the intervening night of December 31, 2014 and January 1, 2015 the Coast Guard had claimed to have blasted a Pakistani terror boat.
The Defence Ministry had claimed that the occupants on board refused to cooperate after being intercepted and blew up the boat.
The government officials had later identified the purported Pakistani fishing boat as Qalandar and said that they had intelligence to suggest that it had come for an “illicit transaction at sea.” The incident kicked up a controversy and the government had sacked Coast Guard DIG, B.K. Loshali, for contradicting the official stand on the issue.