Terror shadow over polls: Politicians advised restraint (Secondlead)March 18th, 2009 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi/Jammu, March 18 (IANS) Intelligence reports have indicated that political leaders could face “heightened threats” from Pakistan based-terrorist groups in the run-up to and during the April-May general elections with Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday urging them to exercise “prudence” and “restraint” during campaigning.
In the light of intelligence warnings important leaders would require security clearances before hitting the campaign trail, said home ministry officials.
“Political leaders have to be careful when they move around during election times. We have the example of good elections in Jammu and Kashmir, where the casualties were low… I advise political leaders to exercise prudence and restraint in their movements,” Chidambaram said at a press conference in Jammu.
“And I am confident that every one will be protected,” Chidambaram asserted.
Indian intelligence agencies have intercepted “electronic chatter” that indicates an increased threat from Pakistan-based terror groups in the coming months, intelligence sources in New Delhi said.
The Multi-Agency Centre within the Intelligence Bureau that is analysing all intelligence alerts on a real time basis has been passing on crucial alerts to states to see if any of these warnings were actionable.
A week back Chidamabaram was on record stating that terrorists might attempt to do something “dramatic” during the month-long general elections. The poll dates are April 16, 23 and 30 and May 7 and 13.
“We have specific intelligence about the movement of people. In the run-up to the elections, there will be great temptation to attempt something dramatic,” the home minister stated, emphasising that every piece of intelligence was being scrutinised minutely.
“There is an increased threat from Pakistan-based terror groups in the run-up and during the elections,” said highly-placed government sources. “There is increased chatter that points to heightened terror threat to India during this period.”
“There could be an attempt to target major political leaders,” the sources told IANS.
The threat perception also emanates from evidence that Pakistan’s spy agency Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) has not stopped doing business with anti-India terrorists, the sources said.
India last week replied to Pakistan’s 30 questions relating to the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. It is awaiting “credible action” by Islamabad to punish the perpetrators of the attacks and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in its territory.
New Delhi believes that the political turmoil in Pakistan should not distract from the process of bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai atrocity to justice.
“Certainly, we would hope that those things (bringing perpetrators to justice and dismantling terror infrastructure) would happen and happen as soon as possible and we will do everything we can to encourage that process,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon had told reporters here Tuesday.
“We will continue down that road with whoever is willing to help us to achieve our goal,” Menon said.