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Gujarat beefs up security after high alert

139 Days ago

Ahmedabad, March 6 (IANS) NSG teams were put on standby and Mahashivratri festivities at the historic Somnath temple were suspended in Gujarat after the Centre on Sunday sounded a high alert amid reports that 10 fidayeen militants have entered the coastal state.

"The Gujarat Police are on alert. The state government had asked the Centre to send National Security Guards (NSG) teams, which have also arrived," state Home Minister Rajanikant Patel told reporters here.

Two NSG teams, which landed in the state on Sunday morning, were put on standby.

He said, "We have issued a high alert and beefed up security at all key installations."

The government was galvanised into action to step up security across Gujarat, especially the coastal borders with Pakistan, after a note sent by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval about suspected infiltration of 10 militants of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Doval's note came after Pakistan's National Security Adviser Nasir Janjua called him up and said 10 terrorists from the two Pakistan-based outfits have entered Gujarat, according to official sources.

Authorities at the Somnath Temple in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra, which is the first among the 12 'jyotirlingas' of Lord Shiva in the country, said all cultural programmes slated for Sunday and Monday, the Mahashivratri day, have been cancelled.

Somnath Temple Trust's general manager Vijay Chavda said a 'nrityotsava' (dance festival), scheduled for Sunday evening and 'Ras-Garba' and 'Dayra' programmes scheduled for Monday were cancelled.

The Mahashivratri at the Somnath Temple every year sees a massive gathering of devotees from across the country and the world.

Chavda said elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure uninterrupted 'darshan' by the pilgrims on Mahashivratri.

Besides, Dwarka and Akshardham temples in Gandhinagar, which had come under terrorist attack on September 24, 2002, power plants, dams, defence and security establishments have been put on alert.

Officials said police stations in the state have been asked to carry out combing operations in hotels and guest houses. Forces have been moved around shopping and cinema halls and bus stands. Security personnel on leave have been asked to report for duty.

Besides Kutch district, which shares land and maritime borders with Pakistan, heavy patrolling and checking has begun along Gujarat's border with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The central agencies are investigating the discovery of five abandoned fishing boats near Sir Creek on the Kutch coast over the last three months, including one found by a Border Security Force patrol on Friday.

The boat found on Friday is 20 feet long and 10 feet wide. Some rations, water jugs, fishing nets, crabs, diesel and mattresses were found on board.

Meanwhile, Gujarat's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) P.K. Taneja held a meeting with top officials of the armed forces, police, Intelligence Bureau and paramilitary forces. (IANS)

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