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Was Alang on Headley's to-bomb list?
While officials were tightlipped about any such development, sources said the team of FBI officials is expected to visit sites in Alang, famous for ship-breaking yards, which Headley and Rana had visited, while planning terror attacks. Among other places in the state, Headley had visited Ahmedabad and Surat last year. When contacted, Gujarat ATS chief Ajay Tomar denied having information about FBI sleuths' visit.
Both Headley and Rana, believed to have links with Lashkar-e-Toiba, were arrested by FBI last month for plotting terror attacks in India. Their involvement in Mumbai and other terror attacks in the country is being probed by law enforcement agencies.
According to sources, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), formed in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, had also stayed put in the state for three days last week to survey various spots the terror masterminds are believed to have visited to identity possible targets for their next strikes.
Meanwhile, Bhavnagar police conducted one of its biggest combing operations in over two decades in Alang, on Saturday night. This was following intelligence inputs to check the area for doubtful visits of Pakistani nationals and Bangladeshi intruders.
Nearly 350 police personnel searched more than 3500 shelters of workers employed in ship-breaking units in Alang as part of the operation.
When contacted, Superintendent of Police (SP) Bhavnagar, Rajendra Asari, said, "Migrant labourers coming from Assam, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand are working in Alang. The purpose of combing was to trace out illegal intruders from other countries, who might be staying as labourers." However, he said that no person was booked during the operation.
Sources said police was zeroing in on people who might have links with Naxalite movement as many workers in Alang hail from states where the movement is active.
Mehboob Kureshi & Vivek Vijayapalan / DNA
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Ship-breakers asked to maintain register of Alang workers
AHMEDABAD: Bhavnagar's Alang ship-breaking yard, considered to be one of the biggest in Asia, is in terror crosshairs, feel intelligence officials.
To strengthen security of the coastal area, district police officials have issued a notification to maintain a proper register of the workers at various ship-breaking plots with immediate effect.
According to state police, they are taking the threat from the sea seriously. Alang, as an industry itself, employs over 40,000 workers from other states. According to officials, terrorists can tap this resource by disguising themselves as sundry workers to gather intelligence or use them for the purpose.
Bhavnagar police has asked the ship-breakers and state maritime board officials to keep a register temporary and permanent with details, including name, permanent address, age, native, identification mark, employer and a photograph.
Source said that a combing operation has been undertaken by police and intelligence agencies officials from Saturday where a number of workers have been screened for their record.
Rajendra Asari, superintendent of police, Bhavnagar, told TOI that once the record is compiled, cops can check physical presence during a surprise check and verify it with the employer. "At the moment, it is difficult to screen every person as it would take a lot of time. There is no official system in place. With the new system, data can be compiled and updated at regular basis," he said.
Cops added that a number of activities have taken place earlier at the breaking yard that makes the place vulnerable. "It has national links ships come from all over the world for breaking and we have found goods such as cocaine and ivory from the coastal town in recent past," said the official.
New coastal police station to come up at Alang
Bhavnagar district has 160-km coastline and a police chowky of marine police. Bhavnagar police indicated a recent development where Alang will be provided with a police station of marine police. As part of strengthening coastal security, a number of places have been selected to establish police base, said senior state police officials.
The Times of India
24 November 2009