Coimbatore under security blanket after terror threat

Railway Police personnel are on vigil at Coimbatore Railway Junction on August 23, 2019, following an intelligence input that six LeT terrorists had intruded into Tamil Nadu and had settled in Coimbatore.

Railway Police personnel are on vigil at Coimbatore Railway Junction on August 23, 2019, following an intelligence input that six LeT terrorists had intruded into Tamil Nadu and had settled in Coimbatore.   | Photo Credit: M. Periasamy

Six LeT suspects believed to have intruded into T.N.; No photo of suspects released, says DGP.

A massive surveillance has been mounted across Tamil Nadu, especially in Coimbatore, following an intelligence input that six suspected terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), including five Tamil Muslims from Sri Lanka and a possible Pakistan national, have intruded into Tamil Nadu. Coastal areas, too, came under heightened surveillance with the police asking fishermen to tip them off on the movement of suspicious persons.

The suspected terrorists were reportedly last seen at Coimbatore on the evening of August 21, the alert said, adding that one of them was identified as Illyas Anwar, believed to be of Pakistan origin. 

The LeT operatives have been assisted by a native of Kerala, employed in Bahrain but untraceable. 

A resident of Thrissur, the suspect was helping them with logistics and creating a base. A senior government official in New Delhi said they had zeroed in on the suspect. It was not clear if he has been arrested.

“The specific information came from intelligence agencies here, we are working on the leads,” said the official.

Though initially a photo of the suspected Kerala man was circulated on mobile messaging platforms by some police personnel, Director General of Police J.K. Tripathy, talking to journalists in Chennai, denied that any such photograph was released officially.

Tamil Nadu Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Jayanth Murali arrived in Coimbatore on Friday morning to take stock of the security situation and held discussions with senior police officers earlier in the day. The Hindu had on Friday reported about the intelligence alert and the heightened security in Coimbatore.

The intelligence communication listed five possible targets for attacks: Velankanni shrine in Nagapattinam; Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington, Udhagamandalam; Air Force Station in Sulur, Coimbatore; Sabarimala shrine in Kerala; and “any other communally sensitive” target. 

In a communication to all zonal IGs/Commissioners of Police and SPs, Mr. Tripathy urged them to keep a close watch on the movement of strangers/ infiltrators. The movement of ferries/boats should also be monitored closely to prevent any illegal ferrying and infiltration. The unit officers should sensitise the fishermen in wake of this input to identify any such infiltration, he said.

Mr. Murali gave instructions to Coimbatore City Commissioner of Police Sumit Sharan and other officers on tackling the security- related situation. He also visited the Air Force Station in Sulur for a brief consultation with Air Force officers. The 105 Battalion of Rapid Action Force (RAF) camp at Mahalingapuram has also been put on alert, sources added.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Sharan said a red alert has been maintained and the city police have undertaken “extensive bandobust” in places such as shopping malls and temples. “We have also informed the Army and the Air Force to alert their defences,” he said. A total of 10 Quick Response Teams (QRT) has been “located in strategic places.”

Mr. Sharan too said the Coimbatore City Police have not released any photograph of the suspects. He refused to comment on the source of the “intelligence input”.

The police were engaged in search operations in public places such as hotels, malls, railway stations, bus stands and airport. In Coimbatore city, the police have deployed 1,500 personnel as part of heightened security. Around 8,000 police personnel have been deployed in the eight districts in the western region.

A team of 34 commando officers have been deployed in Coimbatore and are also engaged in search operations in public places. Another team of commandos was deployed in Mettupalayam to monitor other parts of the district. Combing operations by a contingent of commandos were also carried out at the Brookefields shopping mall.

From midnight, police presence was evident in important places in the city. Security cover for places of religious importance was enhanced while leaders of pro-Hindu outfits were informed about the alert. The police also checked vehicles at several places.

(With inputs from Wilson Thomas/R. Akileish in Coimbatore, Vijaita Singh in New Delhi and R Sivaraman in Chennai)

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2020 10:46:58 PM |

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