With the heightened threat perception of a possible terror attack on the eve of the first anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, security agencies have stepped up vigilance in West Bengal, especially in the wake of the recent arrest of three Bangladeshi militants by the Kolkata police.
The State is considered vulnerable to subversive activities as it shares a somewhat porous international border with Bangladesh, which is believed to have a considerable presence of Islamic fundamentalist activists. That it has a fairly long coastline adds to security concerns.
Sources in the Border Security Force (BSF) told The Hindu on Wednesday that security has been increased manifold along the international border to check infiltration. “We are aware of incidents of several militants who allegedly were plotting terror strikes in India being arrested by the Bangladeshi authorities in the recent past. So precautions have been taken with stringent security checks and patrolling along the border,” Vikas Chandra, Deputy Inspector-General of BSF South Bengal, said.
Mr. Chandra, however, stressed on the coordinated effort of the BSF, State police and the intelligence branch for an efficient mechanism to thwart infiltration.
Coast Guard on alert
Vigilance has also been heightened along the extended coastline. A Coast Guard source said that after the attacks in Mumbai last year, where the attackers entered the city through a water route, alertness has been enhanced with patrol vessels of the Coast Guard authorities guarding the coastline 24x7.
After the 26/11 attacks, the Union Home Ministry ordered for 80 Fast Interceptor Boats for coastal vigilance by respective State police forces, of which 18 were ordered for West Bengal.
“The State police has received four Fast Interceptor Boats so far. About nine marine police stations have also been established where the police personnel are being trained by marine commandos. More marine police stations are on the cards shortly,’ Bhupinder Singh, the State’s Director-General of Police, said.
Apart from the border and the coastline, security has also been beefed up in important cities and at railway stations.
A terror alert was sounded during the day in the Malda division of the Eastern Railways, following which security arrangements were pulled up at all the stations in the division.
“A general threat alert is already in place and the railway authorities are taking adequate measures to ensure passenger safety,” Dilip Kumar Mitra, Additional Director-General of the Railway Protection Force, said.