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J&K CM on terror hitlist; Agencies plug loopholes

By Sumir Kaul in Srinagar
January 16, 2008 16:49 IST
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An alert of a possible suicide attack by Pakistan-based militant group on 'VIPs' in Jammu and Kashmir, including Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, has put Central security agencies on guard and sweeping changes like fresh training for security personnel have been mooted.

Special Security Guard of the state police, which is in-charge of security of the chief minister and other important personalities including National Conference chief Omar Abdullah, have been asked to undergo a rigorous training to be imparted either by elite National Security Guard or any other professional agency.

The changes come in the wake of several intelligence inputs from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that they would carry out a suicide attack on

Azad and Abdullah junior, who have been holding several roadside meetings in recent months.

Besides providing a cover of elite NSG commandos, the state police has also carried out a major overhaul of Azad's security by replacing the present SSG with those personnel who have excelled in combat training.

The security forces had also arrested a Border Security Force jawan in September last year, who had been claiming in his telephonic conversations with Lashkar commanders that he could be of help in carrying out any plan to target the chief minister.

A close monitoring of the intelligence inputs suggested that the militants were spread right from Kupwara (in North Kashmir) to Doda (in Jammu region) and during their conversation they claimed that their cadre had managed to slip into the security of the chief minister.

State police sources said the SSG guard was being rotated frequently and a special care taken about the protection of the VIP. A fresh background check of all the SSG personnel was being carried out.

The state had also been working in tandem with the NSG guards so that there was a synchronisation between the two guarding forces when the protected person reaches the venue.

As per the Standard Operational Procedure, the NSG provides security from one place to another and the protection of the VIP comes under the jurisdiction of the state police.

The state government officials argued that the threat perception of Azad was high because of his determination to eradicate militancy and at the same time take adequate care to prevent human rights violations.

A review of National Conference Chief Omar Abdullah's security also brought out startling facts to fore, including that he had been provided with an old bullet proof car that broke-down quite often. The man in-charge of his jammer had forgotten to switch it on, thus risking his life.

He would now be provided with a fresh vehicle besides a thorough review of his security. Abdullah already has Z-Plus category security along with ITBP cover.

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Sumir Kaul in Srinagar
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