S. Vijay Kumar
Heightened security arrangements are in place across Tamil Nadu, particularly in the western districts, following intelligence inputs from a central agency on a terror module planning to target vital installations in South India.
Police sources said a three-member cell named ‘Abu Alqital’ was formed to target upscale restaurants, places of worship, shopping malls and vital installations. The suspects, believed to be Islamic State (IS) operatives, were active on internet-enabled voice calls and messaging platforms.
The agency noted increased cyber activity in the name of IS by way of content being posted in various cyber groups, warning of imminent terror attacks in India.
These groups witnessed a steady increase in membership following the dissemination of such information, police sources told The Hindu on Wednesday.
While no specific target or location was mentioned, posts made in closed online groups spoke of the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicles and small arms to carry out attacks. Considering the affiliation of the groups with organisations like the IS, the agency said crowded markets, places of religious congregation, tourist spots and other iconic places were among the likely targets.
‘Step up surveillance’
In view of the alerts and against the backdrop of the recent serial bomb blasts in Sri Lanka which claimed the lives of over 250 people, the State intelligence has advised commissionerates and districts to sensitise their intelligence machinery, mount surveillance on extremists or their associates, particularly radicalised youth, and take adequate precautionary measures to avert any untoward incident. The contents of a publication in Tamil on IS ideology, Jihadi literature a
nd other sensitive information were passed on to senior police officers across the State, sources said.
Superintendents of Police in coastal districts were told to strengthen patrolling along the eastern seaboard to prevent possible infiltration by suspects involved in the blasts and the violence that followed in Sri Lanka.
Pointing out that places of worship and sensitive books were damaged in clashes between Muslims and Sinhalese at Karungal district and other areas in the northwestern province in Sri Lanka, the agency said the youth affected by the violence could attempt to escape and gain entry into India by taking the sea route.
Police and coastal security agencies were directed to enhance surveillance along the coastal belt and keep tabs on the activities of suspicious persons, besides maintaining a close watch on the movement of boats to prevent illegal ferrying, sources added.
In a related development, sources in the National Investigation Agency said that their investigators visited the Puzhal central prison here to check the details of visitors who met Muslim fundamentalists lodged there in the last two years.
“We are trying to look at the profile of visitors to check if there is any link to the serial blasts in Sri Lanka and also the threat perception to vital targets in South India, particularly certain parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” a senior officer, who preferred not to be quoted, said.