Both Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been put on high alert and security beefed up following an alert from Central intelligence that six Laskhar-e-Toiba terrorists have infiltrated from Sri Lanka and they now may be holed up in Coimbatore. The specific tipoff said five of them are Sri Lankan Tamil Muslims and the sixth is a Pakistani national. Further, it also said they had infiltrated through Rameswaram and moved into Coimbatore, always a communally sensitive area.
The tipoff has further said that they are disguised as Hindus with sacred ash on their foreheads. It said one of them has been identified as Ilias Anwar, probably a Pakistani national. The alert which was sent to all city police commissioners and SPs around 11.30 pm Thursday, said the group may carry out attacks on vital security installations, places of worship, tourist locations and foreign embassies.
Based on intelligence inputs, the Tamil Nadu Police Thursday midnight launched a massive combing operation covering even police stations, besides places of worship, lodges and public places. Following the inputs, Kerala Director General of Police (DGP) Loknath Behra directed all districts to be on high alert . "Security has been beefed up at transport hubs, vital installations in the state and places of worship, including Sabarimala and Guruvayoor temples."
"The alert has come in from outside the state. There is also information of a person from Kerala being a part of it, so the investigation is also on in this direction," Police sources added. Inspections have been strengthened along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, especially in Palakkad, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts also. Kerala DGP has also directed that all bus stands, railway stations, airports and other public places where people gather in large numbers should be on high alert. Surveillance and security will also be strengthened around places of worship.
The Indian Navy and Coast Guard swung into action in Rameswaram and were assisted by Sri Lankan patrol boats.The naval ships were patrolling the high seas while Coast Guard vessels and hovercraft have also been deployed. Besides two naval helicopters are on air surveillance over Rameswaram and Uchipuli, reports said. The reports said that the navy and coast guards were handicapped as local fishermen, who are often the first sources of information, have stayed off the sea because of rough conditions.
However after getting intelligence alert from New Delhi, they have beefed up security on and off the coast. Tamil Nadu State’s marine police, Q Branch personnel have also been pressed into service. Director General of Police J K Tripathy has instructed the entire police to be ready for any storming operation and also step up night vigil. Chennai Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan told reporters in Chennai on Friday that the city had been put on high alert.
Coimbatore saw maximum mobilisation of police with armed guards checking vehicles at newly erected checkpoints in all entry and exit points, particularly to Kerala. Sniffer dogs of the bomb disposal squads have also been seen in action. The police with sniffer dogs have been checking passenger luggage in trains in Coimbatore, Madurai as well as other major stations.
After a review meeting Coimbatore Police Commissioner Sumit Sharan with senior officials, security has been beefed up in sensitive places like places of worship, malls and so on. Nilgiris Superintendent of Police Kalaiselvan said armed guards have been posted at checkpoints on routes to Kerala. Similar security measures have been taken in Madurai, Dindigul and other major towns.