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Security jitters for Gogoi

Guwahati, Sept. 8: Security arrangements for Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi were today upgraded after intelligence reports suggested that “jihadi elements” were planning to attack him for his views on fundamentalist groups.

Gogoi has Z-plus cover and his security retinue is entirely made up of police personnel. The focus of the “special security cover” designed to counter the perceived threat from fundamentalist groups will be on “access control”, a senior official said.

“It (intelligence report on the threat) is a very recent development and we have reviewed his security and taken all necessary steps to foil any such attack. Access to Gogoi will be strictly regulated from now on, given the fact that jihadis have a penchant for suicide attacks,” he added.

Gogoi returned to Guwahati today from New Delhi after attending the chief ministers’ conclave on internal security.

Sources said intelligence agencies revealed the jihadi threat to Gogoi at a meeting of the Unified Command for counter-insurgency operations yesterday. The three-tier structure comprises the army, police and paramilitary forces.

The reason for the threat is attributed to Gogoi’s outspokenness about anything remotely suggestive of fundamentalism. “If you take a close look at his tenure as chief minister, you will find that he has bluntly spoken out against fundamentalist forces. This could be one of the reasons for him being on the hitlist of jihadis,” a source said.

Intelligence agencies had warned of attacks by jihadis on soft targets across the state in the run-up to Independence Day.

Going by the steps being planned for the chief minister’s security, meeting him will no longer be easy. A senior official said the new strategy was more about building an invisible firewall around him than about adding security personnel to his security entourage.

Visitors could be asked to leave behind cameras and even mobile phones before meeting Gogoi.

“This is the kind of threat you cannot minimise simply by increasing the number of security personnel around the chief minister. We need to anticipate attacks. Danger can come from very unlikely sources, perhaps from an innocuous-looking visitor. We need to adopt an intelligent approach rather than arrange for stifling security,” the official said.

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