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Lashkar could target Madurai's Meenakshi temple: IB

R Prema in New Delhi | July 26, 2008 20:09 IST
Last Updated: July 26, 2008 22:36 IST


The famous Meenakshi temple in Madurai in Tamil Nadu is on the Lashkar-e-Tayiba's hit-list, fears the Intelligence Bureau.

The IB has alerted Tamil Nadu's director general of police with information obtained by intercepts by the Indian Army and the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency.

IB Director P C Haldar spoke to Tamil Nadu DGP K P Jain on Saturday to convey the Centre's concerns.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil may speak to state Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to urgently post additional security at the temple.

The Centre wants the Tamil Nadu government to take quick action on its alert and avert any threat to the shrine.

rediff.com's Krishna Kumar P adds:

Security in and around the Meenakshi temple has been beefed up, the Tamil Nadu police said on Saturday.

"I cannot share with you details of the IB inputs. The temple figures in our alerts also. We have asked the respective departments to step up security in vulnerable installations and public places like markets and malls. Temples also figure in this, and security has been stepped up," DGP Jain told rediff.com, but declined to answer questions about any specific alert about the temple.

Madurai Commissioner of Police Nandabalan said he was asked to increase security at the temple by his superiors.

"The temple has always been secure. Only recently we ensured that all guides and shopowners in the area were ID-ed and identity cards were issued. We recently installed closed circuit security cameras," he told rediff.com

The temple has four entrances and the police have placed a sub-inspector, an armed reserve policeman and a local constable at each entrance. Also, vehicular traffic around the temple has been blocked; only pedestrians are allowed in the four streets that form the perimeter of the temple.

"After the Ahmedabad blasts, we did not want to take any chances. With our own inputs and also the central input, we have decided to enhance the security to the temple. We have set up an exclusive control room at the temple," Nandabalan said.

A top priest of the temple said the police switched into vigilance mode from early Saturday. "Early in the morning, when the temple gates were opened, the police were there with sniffer dogs. They were very alert. We thought it was a routine exercise, but what struck us was the intensity of the search. There were more policemen than usual and their presence did not decrease as the day wore on, as is usual," C Shanmuga Sundara Bhattar, one of the senior-most priests at the temple, told rediff.com

The vast temple witnessed a minor blast in 1996, when a country-made bomb exploded in a corner of the shrine.






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