The Tamil Nadu police are working on laying a meticulous security blanket over the State after intelligence agencies warned of possible attacks by religious fundamentalists, targeting VIPs, vital installations and public gatherings in the run-up to the Independence Day celebrations.
Central agencies have warned of plans by extremist outfits to attack security establishments in the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
Police sources said intelligence officials had warned that pan-Islamist terror outfits, particularly the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), were engaging gullible youth through online ‘jihadi’ propaganda and inciting them to launch lone-wolf attacks in their respective countries.
While reaching out to such youth and sympathisers through a secure online platform, the suspects were making efforts to recruit cadre in different States, including Tamil Nadu, to carry out their agenda. There was a specific input that some members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba were planning ‘fidayeen’ attacks on VIPs. Other extremist organisations were also conspiring to target sensitive installations and areas of public gathering in a bid to disturb communal harmony, sources said.
The arrests of some religious fundamentalists had raised suspicions of the existence of more sleeper cells with sinister design to indulge in unlawful activities.
Referring to the arrests of around 20 terror suspects by the NIA last year, the intelligence alert said there was information that youth belonging to a particular religion were being radicalised through social media networks towards the ideology of a banned organisation.
Law enforcement agencies were acting on inputs that extremists had entered or were trying to enter the country through the coastline of Tamil Nadu and Kerala from Sri Lanka and the Maldives, with the intention of carrying out terror attacks on places of worship, foreign establishments and areas of public congregation like malls.
In view of the fragile communal situation, a comprehensive scheme was being devised to ensure heightened security arrangements at vulnerable places. Besides stationing ‘Quick Reaction Teams’ and ‘Snipers’ at vantage points, adequate armed security personnel, including a sizeable number of plainclothes personnel, would be deployed on bandobust duty before and during the Independence Day celebrations across the State, sources said.
“As part of the elaborate security plan, special teams are being formed to conduct checks in isolated buildings on the city/town outskirts. Coastal and inter-state/district borders have been strengthened with additional manpower. Members of Coastal Vigilance Committees have been sensitised to the threat perception and asked to alert the local police in case they come across suspicious persons or activities,” a senior police official told The Hindu on Monday.