March 30, 2020
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Caution: No Complacency

The opening function may have gone off well, but the threat perception has not diminished

Caution: No Complacency

Now that the opening function has gone off well without any security-related problems, has the security threat perception diminished?

Not necessarily. It is very gratifying that the opening function was handled very well by the organising committee and those in charge of physical security. Generally, the security arrangements are very tight on the opening and closing days because of the presence of a large number of Very Important Persons and the crowd. The alert level is also very high. Since there is only one event on the opening and closing days concentrated in a single stadium, making tight security does not pose any major difficulty. No serious co-ordination problems arise. During subsequent days, the events will be scattered in a number of stadia and venue. Co-ordination and supervision of security arrangements will be more difficult. Moreover, since very few VIPS will attend, alert levels, in the absence of effective supervision, might get lowered. This could aggravate threat perceptions.

Sections of the media have claimed that there has not been much of a chatter among terrorists indicating their plans to carry out any terrorist strike during the Games. Is this reassuring?

I would not agree. The Pakistan-based terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) etc indulge in chatter, but not the Indian Mujahideen (IM). The communications security of the IM is good. It generally sends out an e-mail message just before a terrorist strike materialises or immediately thereafter. Otherwise, its members avoid any tell-tale chatter either through phone or e-mails. 

Is there a risk from biker terrorists?

Reference is invited to my article of September 22, 2010

It is learnt that on the night of October 3,2010, eight unidentified persons riding four motor-cycles reached an open space adjacent to the Grand Trunk Road in Islamabad and the persons sitting on the pillion seats threw some inflammable liquid at the vehicles in a convoy hired by the NATO for carrying fuel to the NATO troops in Afghanistan and fired at the vehicles from firearms held by them. Twenty-eight vehicles were burnt to ashes and six persons were killed. The terrorists escaped on their motor-bikes. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is suspected. The convoy had halted in the open space for rest when it was attacked.

It may be recalled that on September 19 two persons riding a motor-bike opened fire and injured two Taiwanese tourists near the Jumma Masjid in Delhi. In a message subsequently received by some media offices, a claim of responsibility for the attack had been made on behalf of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and a threat held out for a terrorist attack during the currently on-going Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. There has been no further claim or threat by the IM. Despite this, the need for further strengthening precautions against motor-cycle riding terrorists needs to be emphasised. 

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.

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