The early morning car blast in front of Sangameswarar temple in Coimbatore on October 23 last year was not only a shocker to the police, but also a reminder to step up the intelligence network.
A close-knit group of men, 11 of them arrested and one killed in the blast, were behind the act, the silent operation of which was seldom known to the intelligence wings of the police and other agencies.
There was also an allegation that the city police failed to pursue an intelligence alert which mentioned the name of the suspected mastermind Jameesha Mubin who died in the blast.
According to a senior official in the Coimbatore City Police, monitoring youngsters, who are drawn to radical ideologies, but do not have kin or friends with a history of radical acts, is a challenging task.
After the blast, personnel attached to the two intelligence wings of the city police, namely Intelligence Section (IS) and the Special Intelligence Cell (SIC), were given training to update their skills in intelligence gathering.
“Officers from other intelligence agencies also gave training to them. They have been asked to keep a close watch on important developments at local, regional, national and international levels. They should think how an international development could have an impact on the people who are under their watch,” said City Police Commissioner V. Balakrishnan, pointing out that the Easter Sunday serial bombings in Sri Lanka was the inspiration for the accused involved in the Coimbatore car blast.
“Our intelligence personnel are very grounded and their inputs are mostly from credible sources. The sources share information when they notice unusual changes in the behaviour and activities of people,” said K. Shanmugam, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Coimbatore south.
The recent raids conducted in the houses of two youths from Karumbukkadai near Ukkadam in the city were the result of local intelligence gathered and corroborated by the police. The duo, according to the police, were found to have been involved in suspicious activities which were being verified.
According to Mr. Balakrishnan, the strength of the personnel attached to the SIC, which specifically gathers intelligence on radical elements and communal issues, was increased after the car blast. In addition, the police introduced a dedicated software, namely ‘Octopus’, for seeding and sharing of information gathered by SIC personnel. An Information Technology wing was also formed to track activities in cyberspace which pose security threats or are linked to radical groups and organisations.
New intelligence personnel have also been appointed for the three new police stations at Karumbukadai, Sundarapuram and Kavundampalayam, said another official.