TAMIL NADU

Coimbatore a security fortress again

Coimbatore Jan. 3. After five years, gun-totting policemen, para-military personnel manning pickets and patrol vehicles fitted with siren and revolving lights keeping the peace in the city are once again becoming part of Coimbatore.

The residents can heave a sigh of relief for, the entire security apparatus is now in a preventive and proactive mode, not a reactive or damage-containing measure, as was the case during the November 1997 riots and the February 1998 serial blasts.

With extremism rearing its head again, with Monday's hurling of petrol bombs and planting of explosives in an otherwise peaceful city, all-out efforts have begun to deter the ultras from carrying out their designs and also to build confidence in the people.

The stepped-up security also comes in the wake of growing unrest inside the Coimbatore central prison, where the authorities have decided to strictly enforce the rules contained in the jail manual.

The Police Commissioner, Sanjay Arora, said the deployment of men in large numbers and drafting of officers from other districts was aimed at sending a stern, unambiguous message that there would be no room for extremism any more in Coimbatore.

The Inspector-General, West Zone, Narinder Pal Singh, has arranged for mobilising manpower and logistics to supplement the efforts by the city police. Additional VHF sets have been provided. Manpower has been mobilised from Tiruchi, Salem, Erode and Namakkal districts, besides deployment of reinforcements from the Tamil Nadu Special Police Battalions at Kovaipudur here and Palani. Even stand-by para-military forces have been deployed in all sensitive pockets.

All these arrangements made were not done in anticipation of untoward incidents but to serve as a deterrent against fundamentalists and militants indulging in mischief again, the Commissioner said.

A fleet of vehicles packed with personnel at the control room in the Commissionerate stands testimony to the police preparedness.

All patrol vehicles attached to the city police and those mobilised from the neighbouring districts have been equipped with walkie-talkie sets, and armed personnel form part of patrolling.

Officers, who handled fundamentalist cases earlier, are back in the city to join the on-going efforts.

Multilayer checkposts have come up on all arterial and feeder roads connecting the city with the rest of the State and also Kerala.

The personnel at the checkposts at Walayar, Pollachi and 10 other places have been instructed to note down the registration numbers of vehicles and also check them to ensure that no extremist infiltrates Coimbatore carrying explosives. Bomb detection and disposal squad personnel from Chennai have also arrived and are kept in a state of preparedness.

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