Police fear terror threat in Siliguri after Assam bombings

October 31st, 2008 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Oct 31 (IANS) Security has been beefed up in the northern districts of West Bengal as the police apprehend a serious terrorist threat in the region after serials bombings rocked neighbouring Assam, officials said Friday. “We’re apprehending a serious threat in the northern West Bengal districts - especially in Siliguri as it’s the biggest business centre in the region after Guwahati. We’ve implemented three-level security checking in our district to prevent any kind of subversive activity,” Darjeeling District Superintendent of Police Rahul Srivastava told IANS by phone.

He said Siliguri - a bustling town about 600 km from Kolkata - is also under serious security scanner in view of the Chhath puja, a major north Indian festival, which will be celebrated Nov 4.

“Since the men behind these subversive acts always try to strike at crowded places during religious occasions, we’ve sounded a high alert in Siliguri,” said Srivastava, adding that a huge religious conglomeration takes place in Siliguri during Chhath every year.

According to state intelligence sources, Siliguri has for long been a favourite haven for militants like the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar are the two districts in West Bengal that share a border with Assam.

West Bengal Home Secretary Ashok Mohon Chakraborty Thursday sounded an alert in the entire state and asked police stations to keep a close watch on the security scenario across all 19 districts.

Asked whether there was a possibility of terrorists taking refuge in West Bengal after escaping from the troubled northeastern states, a senior state police officer answered in the affirmative.

“The terrorists can easily shift their base to West Bengal territory, crossing the porous Kaziranga-north Bengal forest land,” Inspector General of police (North Bengal) K.L Tamta told IANS.

Admitting it was common for militants to move to a neighbouring state after commiting crimes, Tamta said: “The West Bengal-Aasam border is porous and partly covered by forest area. People from that region can easily sneak into the West Bengal territory using this forest route.”

“We’ve alerted all district police stations along the West Bengal-Assam border and asked them to keep a close vigil so that no suspicious person can enter our state. Police patrolling has also been increased and many preventive actions have been taken in the bordering areas to step up the overall security scenario.”

He added: “The Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB), India’s paramilitary force deployed along the 114-km long India-Nepal border, and the Border Security Force (BSF) have also been alerted to look around the fencing of neighbouring Nepal and Bhutan.”

In April, a powerful explosion ripped through a house at Champasari area in Siliguri town, killing three people on the spot. Police said the explosion was caused by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while the three were making bombs in a rented house.

Darjeeling district police also recovered fire arms, two unexploded bombs and sophisticated timers from the spot. The victims were suspected to have links with terrorist outfits.

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