Indian soldiers, Photo: Reuters
Once again, India’s largest cities are bracing for militant attacks. Reports on January 22 indicated that four states, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh, in addition to Mumbai, are on high alert after the Intelligence Bureau (IB) warned that militants operating from Pakistan have been dispatched for attacks in these areas in the month of January, especially before January 28. President Obama is reportedly planning to visit India over January 25-27 for Republic Day. Pakistan-based militant organisations Jamaat-u-Dawa (JuD), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) have dispatched four separate squads of fighters to India in order to carry out attacks in significant areas. Amazingly, the IB is also reportedly cognizant of some the militants’ names, which have been distributed to the public and state security forces. Additionally, as per the inputs gathered by the IB, militants have already infiltrated the four concerned states. Each team is believed to be responsible for attacking targets in the designated states. In Mumbai, meanwhile, the warning was focused on the Siddhivinayak Temple. Authorities believe an attack there is likely to be carried out on Tuesday, due to the large crowds of worshippers that normally arrive on this day of the week. Siddhivinayak is dedicated to Lord Ganesh and Tuesdays are considered holy. The temple is considered sacred, as it is one of the oldest of Lord Ganesh in Mumbai.
The warning comes amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. Numerous warnings have been issued ahead of President Obama’s visit to India on January 25, underlining the continued threat of militancy in India. A number of factions have an interest in carrying out attacks against the state and India is working under the assumption that several of them are working with Pakistan and its intelligence agencies. This concern was evident in recent warnings by the Obama administration to Pakistan, saying any attacks in India, believed to have been supported by Pakistan, during the president’s visit, would have serious consequences. Warnings have been centered on many areas, but especially major cities, the US President’s itinerary, the International Border with Pakistan, along with Jammu and Kashmir. As a result, India has already been in a state of high-alert for several months, in anticipation of planned attacks. However, today’s warning is more specific. The IB has released a possible target in Mumbai, the names of suspected infiltrators, and admitted that they are working under the assumption that the militants are already in India.
Therefore, security will be bolstered even more around the temple and throughout Mumbai over the coming days. Moreover, the four states in general will see bolstered security as well. Security will be enhanced at crowded public places, which includes airports, railways, religious locales, including temples. Security forces are also liable to be increasingly visible in Mumbai, meant to serve as a deterrent to militant plots. Also, checkpoints are likely to be erected in and around major cities to monitor the movement of persons, and prevent infiltration into sensitive areas.