KOLKATA: Security has been beefed up at the US Consulate in Kolkata, which was the target of a terror attack in 2002, since Friday after specific inputs were sent by the Ministry of Home Affairs stating that American installations were on the radar of Al Qaeda for a terror attack.
The inputs gain significance after Al Qaeda in Subcontinent (AQIS) second-in-command Usama Mehmood released a video on December 26 last year urging Indian Islamic militants to target cities such as Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru to weaken ‘Indian grip’ in Kashmir.
Sources revealed that the US Consulate has also received a letter of threat from Al Qaeda which neither police nor the consulate authorities would confirm for fear of creating panic in the city. “Security has been a top priority at the US installations in the city since the 2002 terror attack. The area is under CCTV coverage and policemen in plainclothes cover the area. We review our security arrangements every time we are issued an advisory,” a top Kolkata Police official said.
However, the consulate refused to comment on the ‘threat letter’ or the security measures. “As a policy, the US consulate general in Kolkata does not disclose matters of internal security,” US consulate general spokesperson and American Centre director Jamie Dragon said.
American Centre was the target of a terror attack on January 22, 2002, by motorcycle-borne Harkat-ul Jihadi Islami (HuJI) militants who stormed the premises and killed five constables of Kolkata Police and injured over 20 with indiscriminate automatic fire.
Prime accused Aftab Ansari alias Farhan Malik was nabbed from Dubai the next day. He was also wanted for the kidnapping of Kolkata shoe baron Partha Pratim Roy Barman, who was released with a ransom of Rs 3.75 crores. A special CBI court sentenced attackers Aftab Ansari and Jamiluddin Nasir to death on April 28, 2005, which the Calcutta High Court upheld on February 5, 2010.