Role of fresh recruits suspected in Madurai blasts

Intelligence agencies suspect the role of first-time offenders in a handful of explosions that were triggered in and around Madurai in recent months. Though preliminary investigation pointed to the involvement of some fundamentalists owing allegiance to former Al-Umma activist Imam Ali, the modus operandi and other technical evidence hinted at the involvement of some fresh recruits who probably triggered the blasts after a recce, highly placed police sources said on Monday.

Ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) meeting in Madurai on May 10/11, security agencies spread into several teams are conducting anti-sabotage checks at vulnerable places, including the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. With effect from Tuesday night, check-posts would be established at all entry points on the city outskirts. Check-posts would also be set-up along roads leading to the meeting place, the sources said.

According to a senior police official, the Public Works Department (PWD), Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) and Madurai Corporation authorities have been told to carry out road digging or drainage works only in the presence of police personnel.

The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) crew was advised to alert the police in case they came across any suspicious baggage per passenger.

Mr. Advani is protected under the ‘Z-Plus' security that also has a National Security Guard (NSG) component. Besides a few blasts in the Temple City in the last one year, a pipe bomb containing a huge quantity of explosive material was found concealed under a culvert in October last year near Tirumagalam in the district.

Hours before the convoy of Mr. Advani was to have passed the culvert, police detected and defused the explosives, thanks to a vigilant farmer who alerted them about some wires in the field.

“The suspects have shown on more than one occasion that they have the potential to cause explosions. Thousands of police personnel drawn from different units are being deployed for the VVIP bandobust. Heightened security arrangements are being made along the convoy route, halting place and meeting point…we may even have a helicopter as a standby measure. Though no specific threat has been perceived by intelligence, we are on high alert,” the official said.

Pipe-bomb case

On the progress made in the Tirumangalam pipe bomb case, police claimed to be pursuing a specific lead that indicated funding to the tune of several lakh of rupees from a different State.

“There are some clues which indicate that the Tirumangalam pipe bomb conspiracy was funded from another State. Efforts are on to unravel the entire conspiracy, including the source of the money and organisations involved,” an investigator said adding that several places surrounding Madurai, including Melur, Dindigul, Melappalayam and Tenkasi, had witnesses activities of Muslim fundamentalists over the years.