Nuke sites put on high alert

Leads in Headley probe point to terror suspect's targets across three states

Nuke sites put on high alert

The Home Ministry and the Intelligence Bureau’s suspicions that Headley and Tahawwur Hussein Rana, the Pakistan-born Canadian national, who was his accomplice, may have had plans to target the country’s nuclear facilities grew after some maps and documents were found in their possession by the American FBI which is probing the case and sharing information with their Indian counterparts.

All states with nuclear plants have been advised to step up patrolling and vigil around the facilities as a precautionary measure, Union Home Ministry sources said here on Monday.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has asked fitness consultant and son of film maker Mahesh Bhatt, Rahul, not to leave Mumbai till such time that investigations into the case against Headley and Rana are completed.

An NIA team arrived here recently and is recording statements of all who came in contact with Headley during his frequent visits to Mumbai between 2006 and 2009, a senior Mumbai police officer said. The NIA has also asked three other persons, who were believed to have been in contact with Headley, to stay put in Mumbai for some time. The identities of the three, however, have not been disclosed.

Home Ministry sources said that the NIA was “minutely” investigating all possible angles in the case it has filed against Headley and Rana. Among the leads that are being followed is tracking down the electronic footprints that Headley and Rana have left, including exchange of emails with their handlers in Pakistan, as well as contacts with suspected state actors in that country. The sources said Headley, accused of plotting terror attacks in India on behalf of Pakistan-based LeT, had visited Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which have high-security nuclear installations, raising the suspicion that atomic plants could be on the radar of the terrorists.

“The step is precautionary in nature. The states have been asked to increase vigil to thwart any sabotage attempt aimed at these vital facilities,” they said. The country has nuclear power plants in  Maharashtra , Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Some of the main nuclear facilities are Tarapur atomic power plant (Maharasthra) , BARC (Mumbai), Kaiga (North Karnataka), Kakrapara (Gujarat), Rawatbhatta (Rajasthan), Narora (UP) and Jadugoda (Jharkhand),  Kalpakkam and Kudankulam (TN). This is not for the first time an alert has been sounded in relation to the country’s nuclear establishments. States have been repeatedly advised in the past by National Security Advisor M K Narayanan about suspected LeT design on key Indian facilities. Narayanan had then made suggested that terrorist cadres may have infiltrated the armed forces.

Soon after the arrest of Headley by the FBI in Chicago last month, there have been various reports of attacks being planned in India. The US has said Headley traveled to Pakistan several times to meet a leader of the Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami, which has ties to the al Qaeda, and members of the LeT.

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