THE Uttar Pradesh government has decided to set up a unit of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in Deoband, the town in Saharanpur known for its Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband. Senior police officers said Deoband was a place of “strategic importance” for the ATS.
CM Yogi Adityanath’s media advisor Shalabh Mani Tripathi seemed to link the decision to the Taliban’s return in Afghanistan, tweeting in Hindi: “Amid the Taliban’s savagery, here is a piece of news from UP. Yogi Ji has decided to open a commando training centre in Deoband.” Over half-a-dozen ATS officers selected from across the state would be deputed there, he said, adding that the decision was “causing pain” to “those protecting terrorists”.
Officers said around 2,000 sq m of land has been acquired for the Deoband unit, and it is one of several planned besides the existing ATS centre in Lucknow.
UP ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar released a statement, saying, “In order to further strengthen the ATS and the Special Task Force (STF) and make them more effective, the UP government is making attempts and required grants are being provided…land has been identified and acquired by the ATS at several places, including Meerut, Indo-Nepal border, Bahraich, Shravasti, the upcoming Jevar Airport, Deoband in Saharanpur and other places. These places are important and sensitive from an operation angle.”
Kumar added, “Deoband is on the Uttaranchal and Haryana border and it is an important place to help us increase our depth, presence and operation efficiency in western parts of the state.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, the ADG said Deoband is “a strategic place from every angle”, and a potential target “as it is not like no one can enter Deoband”. “The decision to start a unit in Deoband is neither to tease nor bother anyone.”
IG, ATS, G K Goswamy said the unit in Deoband will be a commando centre, with ATS commandos deployed there.
DGP Mukul Goel said they wanted some presence of the ATS in Western UP because it is far from Lucknow, and Deoband was chosen because land was available there.
Welcoming the decision, BJP state secretary Sanjay Rai called it “farsighted”, “taken with the barbarism of the Taliban in mind”.