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Enhanced security around Taj Mahal
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | August 14, 2006 17:43 IST
Security has been beefed up in and around the Taj Mahal in Agra in the wake of nationwide apprehension of terrorist strikes on Independence Day.
As many as 100 additional armed policemen of the Provincial Armed Constabulary have been deployed at various strategic points in the outer periphery of the 16th century monumental wonder.
Sand-bag bunkers have been put up beside the outer entry gates for a round-the clock vigil by police personnel equipped with automatic weapons.
Agra Senior Superintendent of Police Dipesh Juneja told this scribe, "We were already in the process of enhancing security in and around the Taj, but the terrorist threats for Independence Day prompted us to speed up these arrangements."
"We have also undertaken an exercise to prepare a complete dossier of each and every resident living within 500 mt radius of the monument; this would enable us to promptly spot any new entrants or visitors in the area," Juneja said.
He has also urged the civil aviation as well as Indian Air Force authorities to sanitise the entire air space over Taj Mahal.
"Our suggestion is to keep the entire air space within a radius of 4 km around Taj completely free of all types of aircraft," he pointed out.
While the carrying of bags was already disallowed inside the precincts of the monument, restrictions have also been imposed on carrying water bottles as well as any other liquids .
Security has been tightened at different airports, railway stations as well as bus-stations all over Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, that has been on the terrorists' target for quite some time.
In Lucknow, railway authorities have virtually barred entry of all visitors.
"Even though there is no formal ban on the entry of visitors, our effort is to dissuade anyone other than bonafide passengers from entering the railway station," North-Eastern Railway Divisional Railway Manager Amitabh Lal told this scribe on Monday.
"We are also urging passengers to reach the station at least an hour before the train departure, because sometimes they may take time to reach their trains on account of the long queues at the security gates," he added.
Northern Railway Divisional Railway Manager R K Gupta said, "All passengers have to go through an intense security checking drill and visitors too would have to go through all that; so it is advisable for them not to go the station without business."
"These measures were necessitated not only in view of the general security alert for Independence Day, but also on account of the fact that Lucknow was well a part of the increasing terrorist network," observed a senior railway police official, while referring to the recovery of baggage belonging to two terrorists arrested last week in New Delhi.