Officials perceive enhanced radical activity
The Kerala Police will form an anti-terrorism squad (ATS) to crack down on extremist activity.
The move comes against the backdrop of what the State police perceive as the rising danger of religious fundamentalism, Maoist insurgency and far-right fanaticism in south India.
The new domestic counter-terrorism strategy, vetted by State Police Chief Loknath Behera, also reflects the scope and seriousness of the security threats coastal States face in the aftermath of the Easter Day suicide bombings in Sri Lanka.
The National Investigation Agency’s arrest of a youth in Palakkad on the charge of having plotted a suicide bombing in Kerala has added impetus to the scheme.
Officials say the ATS would draw officers experienced in crime work from various units across Kerala. The police would retrain them in counter-terrorism investigation tactics, including undercover surveillance, to detect latent terrorist plots and extremism-linked conspiracies.
The ATS would operate under strict legal oversight of senior officers. It would place a premium on collecting human intelligence and focus on developing better sources on the ground.
The ATS would also execute digital surveillance of potential suspects and speed up the prosecution of criminal cases connected to extremist activity. It would scour the Internet for tell-tale online activity that could result in jihadist propaganda-inspired lone-wolf terrorist attacks, which investigators say are difficult to detect and prosecute using conventional methods alone.
The unit would cultivate relationships with their counterparts in other States to share intelligence, develop information on extremist activity and track the movement of radical elements across borders. The ATS would also monitor the movement, stocking and sale of chemicals, including fertilizers, and even dual-use electronic components to prevent illegals from using the commodities to make bombs.
Officers said the State police commandos, Thunderbolts, have trained officers and firepower to assist the ATS in the event it has to respond to active terrorist situations, including multiple and simultaneous attacks as witnessed in Mumbai in 2008.
The police have also formed a special unit to collect coastal intelligence with the help of seafaring fishers.
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