M A I N   N E W S

LeT on glider shopping spree
Intelligence hints at terror threat during R-Day celebrations
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 22
Laskhar-e-Toiba is at it again: the terror outfit is said to have procured around 50 paragliders from Europe apparently to enable its ‘fidayeen’ (suicide cadres) to fly into India and attack vital installations, intelligence agencies have warned.

Having come very close to the Republic Day celebrations in the country, the intelligence input has prompted the security agencies to ensure tight air vigil around all vital installations, official sources said here today.

Sources said the information had even been corroborated by Western intelligence agencies. Normally, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agents and defence attaches across the world keep an eye on any such unusual purchases. It was one such purchase done by an overground worker of the Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT) in Europe that led the sleuths to find out that they were on a shopping spree for paragliding equipment, the sources said.

For their part, Indian security agencies have already carried out mock drills in different parts of the country to counter any air-borne suicide strikes by Lashkar terrorists.

Notably, an issue of concern for the security agencies was that a low-flying paraglider could be nearly impossible to detect on radar screens. Moreover, the radar coverage was not uniform in all parts of the country.

Explaining the threats associated with the alert, sources in the Indian Air Force pointed out that a paraglider only required a 100-metre area for take-off and, therefore, could be launched from any open ground. The IAF and even the Home Ministry had separately warned that the out-of-use airfields could pose a threat and be misused by terrorists to fly an unauthorised small plane or chopper without getting detected.

The latest input on LeT acquiring paragliders bears significance in view of the fact that the government had already put all Air India planes operating in the country's neighbourhood on alert following intelligence reports from Western agencies that Lashkar and other terror groups were allegedly planning to hijack a flight.

Sources in the armed forces said standard operating procedures operate all army bases, air bases and naval bases for air defence. The same is true for all naval ships at sea. Vital installations like large dams, thermal power and atomic power stations have sensors and anti-aircraft guns. A no-flying zone was already in place in Capital's Luytens Zone, which houses the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister's Office and key ministries like home, defence, finance and external affairs.

Earlier, intelligence reports suggested that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence had directed the militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir to use explosive-laden toy planes to hit VIPs in various states and the National Capital.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |