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Terror mission alert blown up as senior Andhra cops spar

The Hyderabad police blew up an alert about militants coming on a terror mission to a south Indian city...

The Hyderabad police blew up an alert about militants coming on a terror mission to a south Indian city — probably Hyderabad — by making it public,thereby putting the entire nation on tenterhooks for two days. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs is learnt to be fuming at this indiscretion,which resulted due to the rivalry between two top cops of the Andhra Police.

On June 3,the J&K Police tipped off the Intelligence Bureau about two militants,aged below 30,heading towards the south. The IB passed on this information specifically to Hyderabad City Police Commissioner B Prasada Rao,and to other cities.

But instead of working secretly on the information and trying to nab the militants,the city police sounded a red alert and beefed up security,spreading panic. Academic institutions,corporates,MNCs,multiplexes and malls were asked to be cautious and screen people. Police put up barricades everywhere and checked all vehicles with youths on motorcycles especially being frisked and their identities checked thoroughly.

The next day,Commissioner Rao issued a press release about the terror alert. “It is learnt that three terrorists have entered India and planning to strike in South Indian cities. They are males and below 30 years of age. They have fair complexion. Their accent will be different and they will be taking precautions about their activities,” the press statement signed by Rao said. “Hence,it is requested that all owners of lodges,hotels,and landlords keep a watch over the customers/tenants and ascertain their identity.”

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“All managers of places of worship are requested to check the antecedents of the people taking shelter in such places. All managers of shopping malls,cinema halls and entertainment centres should have a thorough access control and anti-sabotage checks. All establishments like markets,bus stations and railway stations and large hospitals where a large number of people visit are requested to play voice against violence CDs to enlighten the general public,” the statement said.

Sources said the press release was issued at the instance of Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Arvind Rao. “By making it public and asking everyone to take precautions,he wanted to be safe in case anything happened in the city. The statement was issued to cover their backs and cover up in case there is a local intelligence failure,” an officer said.

This decision to declare a public alert was taken without consulting the Director General of Police S S P Yadav. “The DGP and Arvind Rao are at loggerheads and he did not feel the need to inform the DGP before asking the Police Commissioner to take such a step,” a source said. The tussle between the two dates back to when anti-terror unit Octopus was established in October 2007 and both wanted to keep it under their control. In fact,A K Mohanty who was heading the Octopus till April 2008 had a tough time with both Yadav and Arvind Rao to keep Octopus independent of interference but paid the price when he was shunted out.

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The Additional Director General of Police did not return calls made by The Indian Express for his reaction. Commissioner Rao was reluctant to discuss the issue. “The alert was not very specific therefore we took the necessary precautions by stepping up security and checking vehicles. We wanted to inform the public to be cautious that is why we made it public. We are still working on the information passed on to us,” he said.

First published on: 18-06-2009 at 12:01:01 am
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