Chennai’s tough head cop believes in taking no chances

July 29th, 2008 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS  

By T.S.V. Hari
Chennai, July 29 (IANS) “Ours is a 24X7 thankless job sans respite,” says Chennai Police Commissioner R. Sekar as he exhorts his men to be continually on the move after the arrest of five suspected terrorists who were out to trigger a series of explosions in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere on Independence Day Aug 15. Instead of being pleased with the success in netting four terrorists Monday and another one the day before, Sekar was busy making ceaseless rounds of vulnerable points in the city.

“We are on the lookout for more lurking terrorists, as ours is a 24X7 thankless job. The term ’sigh of relief’ is purged from our lexicon,” Sekar told IANS.

In Tirunelveli, some 600 km south of the capital, Sekar’s colleagues were making one of the arrested suspects, 39-year-old Sheikh Abdul Ghaffoor sweat under interrogation.

Ghaffoor’s reported threat to blow up several south Indian cities and other places on Aug 15 was foiled with his arrest late Sunday night.

The answers provided by Ghaffoor under tough questioning yielded results.

In a dawn swoop Monday, two of Ghaffoor’s aides in Chennai - Qazi Rahim and A. Abdul Kader - were nabbed.

Sekar believes the duo have tangible links to the serial blasts that shook Bangalore on Friday and Ahmedabad the next day. The Ahmedabad bombings have left at least 50 dead and over 200 injured.

After some questioning, the two were sent by road under heavy guard to Tirunelveli for further questioning.

Another suspect and life convict P. Ali Abdullah is being questioned in the high security Puzhal prison, some 20 km away.

Abdullah was allegedly trained in Pakistan before his 2003 conviction and was undergoing trial in eight cases.

While the tension was palpable in the faces of other policemen, Sekar looked calm.

The police wireless system was crackling incessantly even as he was speaking, all the while expertly scanning the streets of the suburbs of the metropolis with a grim, combative expression.

Sekar has a reason for being worried.

There was a rumour around town, using the acronym B-A-C-K, to indicate that the next series of explosions would be in Chennai, after Bangalore (B) and Ahmedabad (A). Kolkata would be the fourth target, the rumour went.

By noon Sunday, Sekar’s men had rounded up some 100 plus suspects.

“My boys have been advised to behave politely, but firmly, and yield no quarter to any suspicious character no matter which VIP’s name he/she drops,” Sekar said as he glanced at an officer who had stopped a speeding two-wheeler.

The couple on the bike was arguing noisily.

“We will answer questions from doubting Thomases of the media or other civil liberty groups later. If there is one explosion in the state, the least of your worries will be my language (I use when talking to you),” Sekar said into the phone while talking to a colleague.

Bluntness is one of Sekar’s qualities.

Before taking charge of the city police, he had been additional director general in charge of intelligence. There are several officials who did not take kindly to his no-nonsense attitude.

Police have intensified patrol in vulnerable areas including temples, mosques, rail, bus and air terminals besides the IT corridor in the southern outskirts here.

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