Goa on Al Qaeda radar, says cabinet note

December 6th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Dec 6 (IANS) Goa, one of India’s leading tourist destinations, is on the Al Qaeda radar but the state is not geared up to thwarting the terror threat, a state government note says. Though the state had refused to acknowledge specific intelligence inputs about any terror threat in Goa, a note circulated during a crucial cabinet meeting held after the Nov 26 Mumbai terror strikes categorically states that Goa faces a threat from the Al Qaeda network.

“Today, Goa faces serious threats from terrorists and there are specific inputs that Al Qaeda would target certain installations/targets in Goa,” reads the note, signed by Goa Chief Secretary J.P. Singh and dated Dec 2.

It lists an exceedingly short-staffed police force as one of the major worries when it comes to handling terror-related contingencies.

According to the note, a reserve battalion raised for contingencies was now being used for chores like traffic duties.

“There is hardly any reserve force available in the state. There is no India Reserve Battalion staff left for deployment at the Secretariat, Assembly Complex, Raj Bhavan and vital installations,” the note says.

According to the chief secretary, so short staffed are the Goa police that security for the Goa governor had to be sourced from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

“Even for minor law and order situations, elections as well as VVIP visits or cultural events we have to call for outside forces or work with the available limited force by diverting staff from the districts as well as units, thereby severly affecting the working of the police department,” the note states.

Goa, which attracts nearly two million tourists a year, has seen increased levels of security in the wake of the Nov 26 Mumbai terror strikes. The state has undertaken several security measures like screening of tourists and combing of hotels.

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