Intelligence reports about a contingent of 50 highly-trained terrorists out to destroy crucial undersea pipelines off the country’s west coast on orders from the ISI have been giving the Intelligence Bureau (IB) sleepless nights for the past month.
The reports suggest the attacks will be carried out between now and January.
Though the city police remained tight-lipped about the terror alert, Director General of Police (Gujarat) Chittaranjan Singh confirmed the report. “The Indian Navy and Coast Guard are also aware of the threat,” Singh said. “All of us are on constant alert.”
State, Gujarat, Goa
The inputs received by the IB suggested that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan was planning to destroy oil pipelines off the coast of the state, Gujarat and Goa and that the terrorists selected for the task were expert swimmers and divers.
According to IB insiders, the ISI has set its sights on destroying oil pipelines laid between Iran and India under the sea.
The pipelines include those belonging to the Reliance Group in the coastal parts of the state and the Essar Group in coastal Gujarat. Bombay High, the offshore oil field operated by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, is also a target.
“The terror operatives have been trained intensively in deep sea diving and swimming,” an IB insider said. “Our agency has received reliable reports that all the terrorists have been trained by officers from the Pakistan Navy.”
The Centre and intelligence agencies are taking several precautions to prevent the attacks. Several agencies, including the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard and the city police, are scheduled to conduct joint exercises in the sea between October 4 and October 5.
These exercises appear to have been developed to counter just the kind of threat the IB has received.
As part of the exercise, a dummy terrorist group will enter the sea from any point along the coastline of the state, such as Ratnagiri, Madh Island, Versova, Juhu Chowpatty, Bandra, Mahim, Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade and Girgaum Chowpatty. The fake terrorist group may also ‘infiltrate’ from the neighbouring states of Goa or Gujarat.
The job of the agencies taking part in the exercise would be to locate and catch the dummy terror group.
The police as well as defence authorities remained tight-lipped about the exercise as well as the terror alert, speaking only a few measured words.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Port Zone) Tanaji Ghadge said, “The Coast Guard has organised the exercise.”
Chief PRO for the defence Narendra Vispute said, “There is one more exercise on October 26.” Police Commissioner Dr Satyapal Singh neither confirmed nor denied receiving any details from the IB.
PRO, CISF, Hemendra Singh said, “I don’t have the details available with me right now. I would be able to comment only once I get the details.”
Pak Navy hand in training terrorists
Captured terrorists Ajmal Qasab and Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley had both admitted to the NIA that the team of terrorists that carried out the 26/11 terror attacks on the Taj and Oberoi-Trident hotels were also trained by the Pakistan Navy in swimming as they had to come to India by sea.
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