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Behind Patil's sea terror alarm bell: 51 'sensitive' spy rings busted in two years

Behind Patil's sea terror alarm bell: 51 'sensitive' spy rings busted in two years

Author: Pranab Dhal Samanta
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: November 26, 2006
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/17348.html

Introduction: Team led by Maharashtra DGP reported at conference this week on threat to critical installations, including atomic energy, space; national coastal police station network to be expanded

When Home Minister Shivraj Patil rang the alarm bell this week over threats to critical installations and nuclear power stations, he had one reason: as many as 51 spy rings involved in gathering information and details on such installations have been busted in the past two years.

The spy rings dealt with nuclear installations, missile technology, communications systems, space programmes and related defence establishments.

It's reliably learnt that this information was disclosed at this week's conference of DGPs from all states. Patil, while inaugurating the conference, underlined the threat posed by Pakistan-based groups to such critical installations, especially along the coast.

A committee, led by Director General of Maharashtra Police P S Pasricha, had recently gone into these threats and its report was discussed at the conference. The committee pointed out that threat levels against nuclear installations have increased after the proposed Indo-US nuclear deal.

In 2005, it was revealed that 18 espionage modules were busted and 30 agents were arrested, of which 19 were Indians. This year, until mid-September, 17 modules had been detected.

Sources say the main aim of these modules was to provide information that could facilitate attacks on the hinterland.

The critical installations and systems broadly mapped by this committee are atomic energy and space installations, petro-chemical complexes, including those run by the private sector, Defence installations like Ordnance depots, communication networks and systems, the I-T sector, airports and sea ports as well as mass transit systems.

Specific mention was made of the petro-chemical infrastructure located along the western coast and that this is under threat from terror groups and crime mafia which can use the high seas to carry out an attack.

In this connection, the government is now looking to give a push to its plan for setting up coastal police stations at the cost of over Rs 15 lakh per station. An amount of Rs 151 crore has been earmarked for this but only 12 have come up so far. Six of these are in Andhra Pradesh and two in West Bengal.

Besides this, an Indian Infrastructure Protection Centre has been set up under the National Technical Research Organisation, the hub for technical intelligence gathering.

Based on intelligence reports and assessments, this centre will come out with specific list of critical installations under threat. Much of the focus of this centre is on the I-T sector, said sources.


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