Mumbai Police chief Sanjay Pandey on Wednesday addressed a meeting of senior officers in the wake of a threat issued by terrorist outfit Al Qaeda, which has threatened to attack major Indian cities, including Mumbai.
Mumbai has always been one of the most sensitive targets for terrorist attacks, ever since the 1993 serial blasts in the city. Further, the threat to India from the Al Qaeda is regarded to be very real, ever since it announced in 2014 that it was setting up a separate module to specifically focus on jihad in the Indian Subcontinent. The declaration was made personally by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over the reins of the Al Qaeda after Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. Over the years, Al Qaeda has shown a rising amount of interest in India, with al-Zawahiri recently releasing a video talking about the Hijab row in Karnataka.
The threat was made by the Al Qaeda following certain derogatory remarks made by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma in a news channel debate last month. Sharma has since been suspended from her post and has also issued an apology, amidst rising international outrage over her comment.
According to police sources, Wednesday's meeting was chaired by Pandey and Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Vishwas Nangre Patil, where Al Qaeda's threat was discussed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to Mumbai on June 14 was also taken into account and instructions were issued to ramp up security across the city.
Mumbai Police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner of Police Sanjay Latkar, confirmed the development.
“All measures are being taken in order to ensure the best possible security in the city, with all aspects in mind,” Latkar said.
The police have ramped up patrolling and random checks around vital installations in the city, as well as increased monitoring of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, which transmit a live feed to the Control Room around the clock. Inquiries have been started with hotels and lodges in the city to check the bonafides of their guests. Further, police stations with large slum pockets in their jurisdiction, like Dharavi and Cheetah Camp, have also been instructed to keep a check on recent arrivals from outer States. Crime Branch officers, too, have been ordered to tap their local informants to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, while Anti Terror Cells of all police stations are engaged in ground intelligence gathering since Wednesday morning, sources said.
“Special attention is being focused on the Prime Minister's visit, with all the locations he will be visiting and the routes he will be taking being sanitised and scrutinised multiple times over the next few days.
The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad, too, is on alert and information is continuosly being sought from central intelligence agencies on a daily basis, said officers.
Railway stations, too, are being secured with nearly 5500 personnel being pressed into service.
“Around 4000 personnel with the Government Railway Police have been tasked with only looking at security of railway stations. They are supplemented by nearly 1600 Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel. We are especially focusing on sensitive railway stations like Bandra, Dadar, Kurla and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus,” a senior Railway officer said.