Chennai’s tough COP stands calm amidst tension

July 28th, 2008 - 9:37 am ICT by IANS  

By TSV Hari
Chennai, July 28 (IANS) Even as the capital was gripped by rumours of future bomb blasts, police broke an alleged ring of saboteurs planning to trigger a series of explosions in the state and elsewhere on August 15 by arresting a suspect a few hours ago. “We are on our toes interrogating suspects, putting out bulletins watching for agent provocateurs who may be lurking virtually anywhere. Ours is a 24/7 job without respite. We have purged the term ’sigh of relief’ from our lexicons,” an alert city police commissioner R Sekar manning the streets here told IANS in the wee hours of Monday.

Some 600 km south of where Sekar stood, his colleagues were interrogating a 39-year-old suspect Abdul Ghaffoor who had threatened to blow up several cities in the state and beyond including Chennai on August 15.

Closer home 20 km away - other colleagues of Sekar were asking tough questions to another suspect and life convict P Ali Abdullah in the high security Puzhal prison. Abdullah was allegedly trained in Pakistan before his 2003 conviction and was undergoing trial in 8 other cases.

The tension was palpable, but the uniformed Sekar seemed calm.

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

Sekar has a reason for being angry.

Mischief mongers were spreading a canard suing an acronym BACK indicating that the next series of explosions would visit his borough of Chennai after Bangalore and Ahmedabad which were hit on Friday and Saturday respectively.

The city of Kolkata, rumours had warned is the next target to complete the acronym.

Sekar’s men had already rounded up an odd assortment of some 100 plus suspects - drunks, geeks, suspected contraband liquor smugglers, rowdies et al.

“My boys have been advised to behave polite, firm but yield no quarter to any suspicious character no matter whose name he/she drops,” Sekar said as he glanced at shouted towards an officer a little away who had stopped a speeding two-wheeler on the rain-soaked streets.

“We will answer questions from probing doubting Thomases of the media or other civil liberty killjoys later. If there is one explosion in the state the least of your worries will be my barrack room language,” Sekar said into the phone with his voice as cold as the devil’s while answering an undisclosed colleague, a moment later.

Being blunt wasn’t a new trade for Sekar.

Before taking charge of the city, he had been Additional Director General of Police in charge of intelligence.

There are several officials who opine that his no-nonsense attitude was “notorious”.

Bangalore was targeted with eight bomb blasts Friday, killing one woman, while Ahmedabad was rocked the next day with 20 blasts killing at least 45 people.

Roads were deserted all over Tamil Nadu for the second half of Sunday following rumours on the one hand and incessant rains in several parts on the other.

Repeated electricity outages also worsened the situation.

Police, however, intensified patrols and pickets at all vulnerable areas that included temples, mosques, rail, bus and air terminals besides the IT corridor in the southern outskirts of here.

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