Security Loopholes Plagued Modi's Kashi Show
By Yatish Yadav - NEW DELHI
Published: 27th Apr 2014 08:56:30 AM
How safe is Narendra Modi? After a bomb blast at a Patna rally venue in October last year, the UPA government introduced an elaborate VIP protection regime for the BJP Prime Ministerial nominee, involving an Advance Security Liaison (ASL) drill and three-tier ring of highly experienced commandos. The impressive plan, however, appears riddled with gaps and glitches when it comes to finalising operational security planning. According to top sources, evaluation of raw intelligence data for Modi’s road show in Varanasi on Thursday was done hours before the event despite the fact that Intelligence input in March forwarded to all the states indicated high threat to his life.
“On Wednesday, security and Intelligence agencies were asked to forward inputs related to possible threat to Modi’s Thursday road show in Varanasi. It was too short a notice for any agency to go through entire intercepts, pick up relevant data and compile it for execution. As ASL drill is supposed to be executed four-five days in advance. This kind of delay in providing feedback to security agencies involved in VIP protection is appalling,” a source said.
The security snag appeared in the operational planning despite Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s assurance to BJP on March 23 that the government had ensured foolproof security. After the Patna blast, Shinde had ruled out Special Protection Group (SPG) cover to Modi who has been target number one of the ISI-funded terrorist organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Indian Mujahideen (IM) and SIMI. Central Intelligence agencies had earlier intercepted phones and emails revealing plans to target Modi.
Sources said an Intelligence note based on monitoring data was generated in March indicating that Khalistan Tiger Force and a LeT ‘fidayeen’ unit (suicide squad) were also planning to carry out spectacular strikes at Modi’s events. IM terrorist Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu, who was recently nabbed, admitted during interrogation that Modi was the main target, and he along with other IM cadres were planning to carry out serial blasts at Modi’s election rallies in Uttar Pradesh.
“For Modi’s security, an audit was also conducted to evaluate threat from political rivals and Maoists in the first week of April. The Intelligence note which is being forwarded for security liaison is examining all possible threats,” a top officer said.
As per standard operational security planning, at least four-five ASL meetings with stakeholders, including state police, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and NSG, are conducted in advance. The meetings also discuss intelligence data received from various agencies regarding threat. An Intelligence official said in Modi’s case, Gujarat Police commandos are also involved in mine sweeps, threat identification and close protection during public events. The ASL meeting for Modi, which should have taken place a week in advance, should have fixed itinerary, including flight landing, route and hotel, if he was staying overnight. The security audit of route and sanitising process of high rise buildings was to be prepared well in advance and shared with NSG and Gujarat Police.
The final ASL meeting—the most sensitive security deliberation—is supposed to be conducted 24 hours before the programme and an elaborate plan for traffic and access control is finalised. Since Modi has the highest level of security in the country besides SPG protectees, three-tier security ring is thrown around the venue. The outer periphery is secured by the additional forces of the state, 2nd tier is secured by Gujarat Police and the third-tier or close protection is secured by a team of 36 NSG and Gujarat Police commandos. The close protection group is also responsible for extending a security net around Modi during emergency and to execute plan for safe evacuation.
Apart from security ring, spies (spotters) from IB and local Intelligence units are deployed to watch suspicious movement to ensure that access control is not breached during public event.
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