Fresh terror alerts in Delhi, security beefed up (Roundup)May 1st, 2010 - 8:38 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) The US, Australia, Britain and Canada issued fresh security advisories to their citizens Saturday warning of terror attacks in crowded markets of the Indian capital, prompting the government to step up vigil and take precautions to safeguard the people.
The union home ministry directed the Delhi Police to intensify security arrangements at popular markets like Chandni Chowk and Sarojini Nagar in the wake of the warnings.
The US, in a fresh advisory, warned its citizens that terrorists were planning “imminent attacks” in crowded markets in New Delhi.
In the latest Warden Message posted on its website titled “Important Security Update”, the US embassy said: “There are increased indications that terrorists are planning imminent attacks in New Delhi.”
The message singles out specific markets such Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Mehrauli, and Sarojini Nagar, saying they “can be especially attractive targets for terrorist groups”.
The advisory updates the one issued April 21 and reminds US citizens travelling or residing in India that terrorists have targeted places in the past where US citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.
Rajan Bhagat, Delhi Police spokesman, said the police were aware of the advisory and taking “appropriate measures”. He also asked the people to report in case they noticed any suspicious object, person or vehicle. “The information should be passed on immediately to the nearest police station, or the public can call up our toll free number - 1090,” he said.
Meanwhile, security at the popular and bustling markets and malls in the capital was beefed up.
The US advisory prompted Australia, Canada and Britain to follow suit, asking their citizens to be extra cautious in crowded and public places.
Renewing its April 21 advisory and cautioning its citizens in New Delhi, the Australian High Commission on its website said: “We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups.”
In an email circulated Saturday morning to registered Canadians living in India, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade wrote: “While there is a continuing threat of terrorist attacks throughout India at all times, credible and specific reporting indicates that a terrorist attack could be carried in the following days or weeks, in market areas of Delhi frequented by foreigners.”
In its advisory, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “You should be particularly conscious of security considerations in the vicinity of key government installations and tourist sites.”
Delhi Lt. Governor Tejendra Khanna appealed to the people to be vigilant following the fresh terror advisory. “I appeal to people to be vigilant when they go out in crowded places, shopping complexes and markets,” said Khanna
The fresh terror advisory led to a drop in shoppers at the frequented markets.
Ashok Randhawa, a member of the Sarojini Nagar Market Association, told IANS that there was a noticeable fall in the number of customers.
“Hundreds of policemen both in uniform and civies have been deployed here today but there is fall in the number of customers in comparison to a normal weekend,” Randhawa said.
“We have also issued a circular to all the shopkeepers to be extra careful,” he added.
Policemen in civies and uniform were seen guarding the roads in Connaught Place in Delhi.
Khan Market, a shopping place in central Delhi popular with foreign tourists, was given extra deployment of police and paramilitary personnel, said Sanjiv Mehra, president of the Khan Market Association.
“The Delhi Police gave us an advisory yesterday and asked us to be on high alert,” Mehra told IANS.
However, Anil Gupta, president of the Paharganj Market Association, said he was unaware of any such alert.
“We have no idea about any terror threat in the city,” Gupta said.