Jewish establishments top security list

Round-the-clock security arrangements are in place at Chabad House and two synagogues.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni , Chandan Shantaram Haygunde | Pune | Updated: February 12, 2015 4:33 am
German Bakery Blast The bomb that went off on February 13, 2010 killed 17 persons, including foreign nationals and injured 56.

The German Bakery blast in Pune had led to a slew of security measures, and protecting Jewish establishments in the city had became a matter of prime concern for the Pune city police. The bomb that went off on February 13, 2010 killed 17 persons, including foreign nationals and injured 56.

Round-the-clock security arrangements have been made at the three Jewish centres in the city — the Chhabad House in Koregaon Park, the synagogue or Lal Deval in Camp and another synagogue in Rasta Peth. Armed policemen are deployed at these spots.

Within a week of the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, the Pune police had stepped up security outside Chabad House, a key Jewish center in Pune. But police could not prevent an attack on the German Bakery in Koregaon Park, not far from the Chhabad House.

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Interrogation of terror suspect David Headley arrested in US in 2009 revealed that he had conducted a reconnaissance of German Bakery.

Headley had visited Pune twice — in July 2008, before 26/11 and in March 2009. He stayed at Hotel Surya Villa in Koregaon Park, which was within metres of the Chhabad House. He also visited the Osho Ashram in Koregaon Park.

Investigators suspect that his aim was to survey the area around Chhabad house in Koregaon Park. Sources said a book — How to Pray Like Jew — was recovered from Headley after his arrest in Chicago in 2009. An accused in the 26/11 terror attack, Headley reportedly visited the Jewish center at Nariman House in Mumbai. Investigators believe he visited Chhabad House in Pune posing as a American Jew.

Headley’s role in the German Bakery blast has not been established yet and he has not been made an accused. Yasin Bhatkal of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), Himayat Baig and LeT commander Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, also a key accused in the 26/11 terror attack were the suspects. Baig was awarded death penalty by a Pune court. He moved the Bombay High Court against the death sentence.

Intelligence agencies have been issuing alerts to local police about terror threats to Jewish establishments in Pune. Deputy commissioner of police (Zone II) Sudhakar Pathare, said, “Establishments like the Chabad House and Lal Deval are sensitive and come under Class A of the sensitive locations. These establishments have round-the-clock security. Security audits are carried out and findings are acted upon. Officers from local police stations and senior officers regularly visit these places to review the situation.”

A senior police officer said on the condition of anonymity, “Whenever we receive inputs from intelligence agencies about any threat to these establishments, security is stepped up. It was after the German Bakery blast that an extensive Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was put in place.”

Israeli officials visiting Pune are ensuring proper security arrangements for themselves. An officer pointed out that the bomb blast in an Israeli diplomat’s car in Delhi had taken place on February 13, 2012 and German Bakery was attacked in February 13, 2010.

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