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Debate over intelligence alert

Patna, Oct. 28: A day after Nitish Kumar said his government had not received any “intelligence input” on possible attacks by radical outfits, controversy erupted as an alert of the Intelligence Bureau, warning of a threat to Narendra Modi during the Hunkar Rally, surfaced.

“The recent arrest of Yasin Bhatkal of IM (Indian Mujahideen) and other IM modules from different parts of Bihar, including Darbhanga, in the recent times, makes it imperative to factor in the vulnerability on this count. Narendra Modi being perceived as a leader of Hindu invokes a fair degree of dissent from a number of radical Muslim groups and may be targeted by rabid elements/groups. This becomes pronounced in view of Narendra Modi also figuring as a target in the list of various terror organisations,” the letter [no. 111/PA/2013(3)] dated October 23 said. The government received the letter on October 24.

The surfacing of the letter threw the government into a tizzy. Nitish, who is also the home minister of the state, had categorically denied yesterday that there was any “specific intelligence input” of the blasts during Modi’s Hunkar Rally.

The surfacing of the letter threw the government into a tizzy. Additional director-general of police (headquarters) Ravindra Kumar hurriedly called a news meet and declared that there was no specific intelligence input. “The alert was of a routine nature. There was no specific information on the kind of subversive activities to be carried out,” he said. The government scurried to play down the contents of the letter. Director-general of police Abhayanand, quoting the first paragraph of the missive, said: “There was no specific threat as per the IB alert. And the police did whatever they could.”

The first paragraph of the letter says, “Presently there is no specific input indicating any threat to the security of the visit of the VIP in his visit to Patna. However the following issues need to be factored in while making arrangements during the visit of the VVIP….”.

The DGP said the issued to be “factored in”, as quoted in the letter, were law and order, large turnout and the Indian Mujahideen threat.

The officer said they had followed the rule book on security, but added that he would have to check whether metal detectors and CCTV cameras were installed at the maidan or not.

“We have requested the NIA to take over the case. One of the suspects is presently admitted at IGIMS in a critical condition. We have informed the court about it. Altogether there were 7,694 policemen present, from the airport till the Gandhi Maidan, on the day of the Hunkar Rally,” he said.

Officials at the police headquarters said there was nothing new in the alert. “Narendra Modi has a Z-plus security cover and it is natural that such apprehensions are made in the form of such alerts whenever he visits any place,” said a senior police official, who spoke under cover of anonymity. He indicated Nitish Kumar had been informed and had been shown the IB letter.

IB officials pointed out that such alerts are issued in this form. “We would have hardly required the help of the Bihar police if they had specific information,” said an official.

The IB alert, however, has whipped up a political storm with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan demanding the chief minister’s resignation. BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi accused Nitish of treating Narendra Modi as an “enemy” rather than a political opponent. “The Bihar CM lied about the IB alert,” Sushil Modi said, alleging that the aim of the radical outfits was to kill Narendra Modi.

The BJP has asked the state government to answer the following questions:

·       Was a full dress rehearsal held by the police before the rally?

·       Was anti-sabotage checking done before the Hunkar Rally began?

·       Were metal detectors used at all the gates of Gandhi Maidan?

·       Why were CCTV cameras not installed at the venue?