Thursday, June 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Meeting on N-threat to Parliament
Uranium seizure in Bangladesh
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 25
The recovery of raw uranium from a terrorist linked to the Al-Qaida in Bangladesh recently has pressed the panic button worldwide by raising the ultimate horror spectre: terrorists going nuclear.

The threat of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction or a “dirty bomb” is so real that Indian intelligence agencies have warned that such weapons may be used against high-profile targets like the Parliament House and top dignitaries like the Prime Minister, top sources in the government told The Tribune today.

Sources disclosed that the world’s leading intelligence agencies went into a tizzy when they learnt of the recovery of a round packet of raw uranium from Naugaon district in the Raj Shahi division in Bangladesh in the last week of last month.

The most worrisome factor was that the uranium packet was found from the possession of a Jamiat ul-Mujahideen terrorist, an outfit close to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida.

The uranium had originated from a Central Asian country. More shocking recoveries were a catalogue and a manual which gave directions on how to assemble a radioactive bomb or a “dirty bomb”. The cache was made by the Bangladesh Rifles.

The significance of the Bangladesh development can be gauged by the fact that US Secretary of State Colin Powell paid a brief four-hour visit to Bangladesh last week. Mr Powell visited Bangladesh while returning from Cambodia, where he attended a meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, and going to West Asia for Palestine-Israel peace talks.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Parliament’s Security met here today under the chairmanship of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker P.M. Sayeed. It discussed the possible threat of a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

The following decisions were taken at the meeting:

* Two underground shelter houses to be constructed to accommodate the most protected leaders and parliamentarians as well as the Central Hall, which will be immediately sealed in the event of a terrorist attack. The underground shelters will be radioactive material-proof.

* “Man-traps” to be installed at Parliament House entry points. If a person not having a valid pass tries to move through the entry point, he will literally find earth moving under his feet and fall into an underground enclosure. The person will be questioned thoroughly thereafter.

* No person without an electronically prepared identity card will be able to enter Parliament premises once the new system comes into operation.

* Ninety per cent of the installation of electronic security gadgets to be completed by December-end.

* Imtiaz Khan Road from Parliament annexe to Akashvani Bhavan to be closed to traffic from December 31 this year as this road runs so close to the Parliament House that it can be used by terrorists for lobbing a nuclear bomb or a “dirty bomb” on the Parliament House premises.

Among those who attended the meeting were former Army chief Gen Shankar Roy Choudhury and former Chief Justice of India Ranganath Misra (nominated members of the Rajya Sabha), CPM member in Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharia, Delhi Police Commissioner R.S. Gupta and senior officials from intelligence agencies and the Special Protection Group.

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