Naval Bases on Al Qaeda Hit List, Govt Issues Alert


New Delhi: The Home Ministry has warned of a possible terror attack on Indian naval bases in Mumbai and Kochi, as the country gets ready to celebrate Independence Day.

A terror alert is standard every year ahead of August 15. A detailed advisory to states, which summarizes intel inputs collected over recent months to ensure security agencies are aware of all possible dangers, says that terror group Al Qaeda "could consider Indian naval facilities and other unsecured waterfronts as potential targets". It refers to naval bases in Kerala and Mumbai.

The note says that information gleaned in September last year suggests the outfit "plans to target BJP offices, commercial, tourist, religious, aviation and railway infrastructure in various states." It also references the "unhappiness" of Muslim groups to a recent ban on beef on some states, the celebration of an annual Yoga Day, the importance given by the new government to Sanskrit in schools, as well as farmers' unhappiness with the controversial land reforms of PM Narendra Modi as causes worth scrutinizing for information and intelligence inputs.

The Prime Minister will deliver his annual Independence Day speech from the Red Fort tomorrow morning, where security has been carefully detailed. Last year, the PM decided against using a bulletproof enclosure on stage.

The advisory says inputs from last year suggest possible targets by other Pakistan-based terror groups and their Indian branches include the famous Lotus Temple and metro stations in Delhi and malls in Uttar Pradesh and Noida.

Just weeks ago, a police station in Gurdaspur in Punjab was attacked by terrorists from Pakistan. Four policemen and three civilians were killed in a gunbattle that lasted nearly 12 hours. The Home Ministry's missive reiterates the growing concern that Pakistan's ISI is "encouraging the Indian Sikh terrorists/radicals based in Pakistan to assist in sending the explosives/arms and ammunition/funds to the Indian territory".