‘Terror in Pakistan may spill over to India’

Udhampur, November 01: The spate of terror strikes and the resultant turmoil in Pakistan may spill over to India, top central government and army officials said.

“I think we can expect some of the terror strikes in Pakistan to spill over to India. As Pakistan is in turmoil, we have to be vigilant and fully prepared to thwart any attack on us,” union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said in Banglaore during an interaction with the alumni of Bishop Cotton Boys School, where he was a student in the early 1960s.

Delivering the fifth General K.S. Thimayya Memorial Lecture on “India’s Internal Security: Challenges and Responses”, Pillai said since the terror strike in Mumbai Nov 26 last year, the country was slightly better prepared to face any attack with a vastly improved intelligence network.

“If you ask me whether we are fully prepared, the answer is no. We are building capability and strengthening our intelligence set-up. It is not only the government, security forces and police, but everybody has to be vigilant for effective response,” Pillai said in response to a query from the audience on the country’s preparedness to counter future terror attacks from Pakistan.

Noting that there had been no major terror attack in the country since 26/11, Pillai said timely intelligence inputs and sharing of information among the states during the last 10 months had helped the country to remain incident-free.

“We had busted 27 sleeper modules of the terror groups across the country over the last one year. The arrest of terror suspect Mohammed Umar Madani in New Delhi Oct 1 exposed the spy modules he was heading and plotting to foment trouble with surprise attacks,” Pillai pointed out.

Referring to the arrest of a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin along with David Coleman Headley, an American national, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US early this month, Pillai said investigations so far had revealed that the duo were planning to carry out terror attacks in India.

“The arrest was an important breakthrough in intelligence gathering for counter terrorism. A team of our intelligence officials are going to the US to quiz Headley on his alleged links with the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT),” Pillai noted.

On speculation over the content of the e-mail Headley sent to a senior LeT leader in Pakistan July 8, Pillai said preliminary investigations by the FBI pointed out that the person named ‘Rahul’ in the mail could possibly be Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan who acted in many Hindi films with such a name.

“Terror threat is something we have to live with. If not, we will pay a heavy price. The arrest of Headley, who was planning a major attack on India with Pakistan-based terrorists, is a clear evidence that we cannot be complacent anymore about the dangers we face within and without the country,” Pillai added.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army Saturday ruled out Taliban presence in Jammu and Kashmir but warned of a possible “spillover” if the situation in Pakistan worsened.

General officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal said in Udhampur town of Jammu and Kashmir that the Taliban had not entered the state.

“A stable Pakistan is in our interest,” Jaswal told a news conference at the Northern Command headquarters in Udhampur.

The highly volatile situation in Pakistan, where terrorists are frequently targeting civilians and the security establishment, “could have its effect on Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India too”, Jaswal said.

The army officer, in his first interaction with the media after taking over the command Oct 1, noted that militancy had come down in Kashmir and assured that the army was in a position to tackle all crises.

“The Indian Army would be able to overcome all the situations in the state,” he said.

“Militancy is down. It is visible in the faces of the people, who have shunned fear and come forward to provide us information,” the senior officer added.