After blasts, BJP-ruled states on high alert (Roundup)July 27th, 2008 - 7:12 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) With a countrywide alert sounded in the wake of 23 serial bomb blasts within 24 hours in Ahmedabad and Bangalore which together claimed at least 45 lives, security was Sunday beefed up - especially in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states. A close vigil was being maintained at religious places, railway stations, bus yards, cinema houses, malls and shopping complexes, and important government buildings and institutions in various states. Vehicles were being stopped and checked at many places, police officials said.
According to reports received here, security has been tightened near Taj Mahal, the 17th century monument to love in Agra, India’s biggest tourist draw. Armed personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force guard the sprawling 22.44 hectare Taj Mahal complex.
Security measures were intensified at railway stations across the country and railway authorities warned passengers to be alert against unclaimed luggage. Passengers boarding and alighting from trains were searched randomly. The Indian Railways carry more than a million tonnes of freight traffic and about 14 million passengers daily.
Additional security personnel have been deployed near vital installations and defence establishments as also in sensitive and mixed-population areas. Dog and bomb squads have been placed on alert and plainclothes security personnel deployed in sensitive areas, reports here said.
Police in the mineral-rich Chhattisgarh state launched a drive against the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) fearing the BJP-ruled state could be on the target-list.
“The police are on high alert and we are looking for SIMI activists or persons who had associated earlier with the group,” a top police officer told IANS in Raipur, the Chhattisgarh state capital.
“In wake of serial blasts in two BJP-ruled states, Friday in Bangalore in Karnataka and Saturday in Ahmedabad of Gujarat, the report is that terrorists may target some more BJP -ruled states, including Chhattisgarh,” the officer said.
The state’s director general of police, Vishwa Ranjan, said: “The security is always in top gear in the state since it is a Maoist insurgency-hit state, but we are taking all possible measures in the wake of the serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.”
In the industrial city of Bhilai, where India’s largest public sector steel plant of the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) is located, the police have been asked to be extra alert and track down suspicious persons.
Patrolling has also been intensified at two other industrial cities Korba and Raigarh in Chhattisgarh.
A report from Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa, said security has been beefed up around vital installations and places of religious significance.
Security has also been tightened at the Jagannath temple in the temple city of Puri, the Sun temple at Konark and the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar.
Additional forces have been deployed near Hirakud multipurpose dam, one of the largest in the world, as also at defence establishments at Chandipur-on-sea where the country’s missiles are tested before induction into the Services.
Amidst the alert, the southern Kerala state was trying to verify the authenticity of an email purportedly warning that the state was next on the list after Karnataka and Gujarat. Senior inspector general of police Arun Kumar Sinha told IANS in Thiruvananthapuram that even though the polioce have not received any confirmation of the report, they had placed the state on high alert.
Media reports said Karnataka police had received an email that Kerala would be the next target.
A report from the north-eastern state of Tripura said the Border Security Force has been put on high alert along the India-Bangladesh border.
Additional security personnel have been deployed along the areas of Tripura, Mizoram and Assam bordering Bangladesh. Besides, anti-insurgency operations have been intensified in all sensitive locations of the region, officials said.