| Patil: Scary picture
New Delhi, Nov. 22: Home minister Shivraj Patil today made the alarming disclosure that Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives were being trained to sabotage oil installations.
As if that wasn’t all, Patil added that atomic power plants, defence installations and communications and IT industries had become “highly vulnerable”.
“Our coastal areas are coming under increased threat from terrorist groups as Lashkar has reportedly decided to use the sea route to infiltrate into India,” Patil said, opening a three-day conference of the country’s police bosses.
When he said “reportedly”, it would be assumed that intelligence agencies are the source of the information. It is not often that a person holding his position makes such a sweeping assessment of the security threat in public.
“Simultaneously, we understand, they (Lashkar) have been collecting information regarding the location of various refineries on or near the Indian coastline. Some Lashkar operatives are also being trained specifically to sabotage oil installations.”
The minister painted a frightening picture, warning that Lashkar militants planned to occupy uninhabited islands — there are many in the Andaman and Nicobar cluster — to use them as bases to launch operations on the coast.
Patil did not name Pakistan or ISI, but indicated that they were behind the plot. “Our critical infrastructure faces a serious threat from terrorists. In view of the recent Indo-US agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation, our atomic power plants have become highly vulnerable.”
“Similarly, installations of the oil and natural gas sector, defence, communications and IT sector are equally vulnerable,” he said. The minister did not leave shipyards out of his “threatened” list.
“Government has asked the littoral states to establish marine police stations for which the home ministry has sanctioned Rs 400 crore for establishing infrastructure and purchasing boats.”
About Jammu and Kashmir, Patil said the increasing incidence of infiltration and acts of violence by militants had “vitiated the environment”.
“Targeting vulnerable groups like tourists, non-state subjects and minorities.... were clearly attempts by the terrorists to thwart the political processes aimed at reconciliation,” he said.
In this blood-chilling atmosphere, he saw signs of some warmth in the Northeast where there has been an overall improvement, though the continuing violence in Manipur and a surge in depredations by Ulfa in Assam “are worrying indicators”.