'Sleeper cells may be active'

S N Srivastava, special commissioner of police (special cell),  elaborates on challenges faced by the department to detect,  prevent, investigate and respond to criminal and terrorist activities in Delhi. In a conversation with Vishnu Sukumaran, he talks about steps taken to foil major attacks by terrorist groups.

Have police made elaborate security arrangements ahead of the festive season? Are they monitoring inputs received from intelligence agencies about possible attempts to disrupt peace by Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terror outfits?

Security has been beefed up in the wake of arrests of five suspected Indian Mujahideen operatives, who were planning to carry out attacks in Delhi.

Additional armed security teams were deployed at various locations during Durga Puja, and policemen were seen monitoring people at pandaals and temples. We have also issued specific instructions to senior officials to be alert and deploy the maximum personnel available at vulnerable spots.

The staff of police control room vehicles has also been advised to exercise a high degree of caution and monitor their surroundings.

Are senior officials of your department holding meetings with their counterparts in intelligence agencies and other state police for joint plans to unearth terror strikes?

We maintain close liaison with officials of all intelligence agencies and police forces of other states to be always be a step ahead of terror outfits like the IM. As part of the decisions taken during the meetings, we have identified several spots that we believe are prone to terror activity during festive seasons. We also anticipate vulnerable spots based on our experience. We are confident of ensuring safety of residents in Delhi by effective intelligence collection and adopting modern methods of investigation.

So, despite these measure, why do police and most intelligence agencies tend to fail to prevent major attacks?

It would be wrong to say that because we have been able to bust the IM squad that planned and executed the August 1 Pune serial blasts.

Sustained interrogation of the arrested operatives has revealed that they had been planning to carry out more strikes in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bodh Gaya.
We believe that a major attack planned by IM in the upcoming festive season has been thwarted, but we also feel over two dozen IM operatives are still on the run. Many are yet to be identified. It is possible that they are part of sleeper cells in the city, which is a major concern.


What are the measures that the department carries out to develop comprehensive database on terrorists and to train its personnel?

Based on our experience, we are geared for the challenges. We also have a suspect surveillance squad, which is an integral part of the special cell. They keep themselves updated on wanted terrorists and criminals. We also continuously endeavour to upgrade our professional skills by organising specialised training programmes.

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