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Chennai Police Commissioner R Sekar
Photograph: Sriram Selvaraj
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Chennai Police Commissioner R Sekar juggled meetings with Singapore government officials and his officers on Tuesday to speak to rediff.com The commissioner and his officers will meet with citizens groups later on Tuesday to sensitise them about a likely terror threat.
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"Due to the alert, we have 10,000 policemen on duty looking after various parts of the city," the commissioner said. "Normally, we would not have so many policemen on duty, but we have to check suspicious vehicles and lodges."
Initially, the city police will be on a high alert for 10 days. Sekar said. "After that we may need to mobilise additional resources. By tweaking shifts and allowing policemen to take rest in turns, we can maintain the alert status for months if need be."
The city police has 18,000 personnel. Sekar admitted that routine work like maintaining traffic, maintaining law and order, court proceedings and VIP security does not leave too many policemen for anti-terrorist work.
Who could the terrorists be?
"We have a core group of 30 people tracking terrorists and anti-terror measures. They do not have any other duties," he said.
The first thing the police does in a high alert situation, he revealed, is to post known anti-social elements behind bars. "By doing that, we do not have to waste resources watching them. They will remain out of harm's way till the emergency situation is over."
Apart from keeping an eye on the activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Islamic terrorists, Sekar said the Chennai police also keeps an eye on possible Naxalite activity.
When asked if there was a link between the three groups, the police commissioner said, "Years ago there was a link between the LTTE and the Naxalites. We broke that nexus. Since then they have not got back together. The LTTE modules are frequently busted, but they go on and on. However, they do not indulge in terrorist activities here. It uses this country to source materials they need. We get inputs from other states and the Centre on militant activity. We have our own intelligence too. We take action accordingly."
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"We want people to be alert for out of the way objects," he said. "Like when you are in a mall, you see a tiffin box. People normally don't carry their lunch for shopping. Or you see a car parked on your street for three days. Or an unclaimed bag on the bus or train. They have to call us when in doubt."
On his meeting with the citizens groups, Sekar said, "We have called the IT people, mall and theatre owners, lodge and cyber cafe owners. We will tell them how they can cooperate with us. They all have private security guards. We will tell them what they need to do. How to do vehicle checks, how to check people and when to inform us."
"Cyber cafe owners have to be alert or later they will face embarrassing situations," the commissioner added. "Lodges too have to alert us when they feel suspicious about any person's identity."
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