There’s no reason to believe that Mumbai’s police department has any particular affinity for numerology. Yet, the number 13 has been preying on the minds of city cops over the last few days. That’s because Shiv Sena’s annual Dussehra rally will be held at Shivaji Park on October 13 this year. And the number 13 has been a favourite of Indian Mujahideen (IM) for some time now.
Police officials are apprehensive that the terror outfit may strike at the event to avenge the arrest of its top operative Yasin Bhatkal. So, security measures for the rally have been intensified, with around 450 policemen and fiveState Reserve Police Force (SRPF) platoons to be deployed.
It’s noteworthy that several major blasts in the country have taken place either on the 13th or 26th day of a month. “13 and its multiple 26 have been preferred by IM to carry out attacks. So, the fear of the number is very real,” said a police source. Also significant is the fact that Afzal Usmani – a serial bomber of IM – is still on the run, and cops believe six members of SIMI, who fled from a Madhya Pradesh jail recently, may emerge in Mumbai.
Sources revealed that the people IM is most likely to target includes BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi (who now has a tight security cover provided by both the state as well as the centre) and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who commands great popularity among the masses. Raj’s security has been upped from Y to Z category. “A third probable target is Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who will be addressing the rally at Shivaji Park on Sunday,” said a police source while speaking to MiD DAY.
Uddhav, who already enjoys Z-category security, will be before a crowd of around 15,000 to 20,000 people. “Though the number of attendees at Sena gatherings has been diminishing after the death of Bal Thackeray, 20,000 is a sizeable figure,” said the source.
The Dadar and Shivaji Park police will be starting preparations for security from today. “We will be carrying out a dry run. Around 450 constables, five platoons of SRPF, 20 police officers, 4 IPS officers will be present,” said another source from Mumbai police. “It is the responsibility of the state government to provide security to our rally. However, I don’t think anyone will target the event, as Shiv Sena enjoys immense popularity in the minds of the people,” said Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.