Delhi attack plot foiled: Chidambaram
AFP NEW DELHI HOME Minister said on Wednesday that police had foiled a major attack by suspected militants from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e- Taiba (LeT) group who were caught with explosives at a rail station.
Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters that two men were arrested at New Delhi’s main station after a tip-off from intelligence agencies and work by three state police agencies.
“They were planning to detonate a bomb or more than one bomb in a crowded locality,” he said, citing initial reports from the police investigation.
The pair are to be produced before a local court and detained for 10 days.
An unspecified number of other suspects had also been detained in connection with the alleged plot, Chidambaram said.
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which means “The Army of the Pure” in Urdu, is one of the most powerful militant groups in Pakistan and is blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead.
Chidambaram said it was “an important module” of the group that had been planning a “terrorist incident in Delhi”.
Neither he nor the police, who also reportedly said an attack had been imminent, would disclose when the men were detained.
The arrests, if followed by convictions, would be an intelligence coup for the Indian security forces which have been criticised for failing to prevent, or catch those responsible for, a string of blasts over the last few years.
In Pakistan, the foreign ministry said India had conveyed nothing official about the arrests or the foiling of an attack. “We do not comment on news reports,” a ministry official told AFP.
“Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and itself has suffered a lot,” he added.
The Pakistani army says around 3,000 soldiers have been killed fighting militants and according to an AFP tally, around 5,000 people have been killed in gun and bomb attacks blamed on the Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked groups.
New Delhi has also been a frequent target for terror attacks.
In September, a bomb outside Delhi High Court killed 14 people, while in early February a bomb blast badly wounded an Israeli diplomat in the heart of the city near the prime minister’s residence.
A senior New Delhi police official, PN Agarwal, told reporters that security forces had recovered material for making bombs from the suspects.
“We have recovered items required for making an IED (improvised explosive device), passports and memory cards that show how to make a bomb and training in weapons handling,” Agarwal said. “We are expecting one or two more arrests.” Meanwhile, talking about row over anti-nuclear protests, Chidambaram said on Wednesday criminal cases were lodged against four nonprofit groups accused of fuelling protests against planned atomic power stations because they “diverted” overseas donations.
Chidambaram would not name the non-government organisations (NGOs) targeted in the police cases.
But “on an inspection of accounts and other information available to the government, there are reasons to be believe that the funds (the NGOs received) have been diverted,” he told reporters.
India has previously said the NGOs were drawing funds from the United States and Scandinavian countries and using them for antinuclear protests.
“They were not used for the purposes for which the foreign funds were received. But to whom they (the funds) were diverted — how they were diverted — will come out in the investigation,” Chidambaram said.
Assets of the NGOs had been frozen and they were being booked for violating the provisions of India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, he said.
India’s plans to build a nuclear power plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and another in the western state of Maharashtra have been thrown into disarray following the protests by villagers and activists.
NGOs operating in the area have denied the government’s allegations.
Chidambaram said experts have certified the safety of the nuclear plants.
“My position is that India faces a huge power shortage and unless we tap every source of power we will not be able to sustain a high growth rate, Chidambaram said.
In an interview published last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed US non-profit groups for whipping up the anti-nuclear row that has stalled the two new plants.
India’s economy is dependent on coal, but Delhi hopes to raise the proportion of power produced from nuclear sources from less than three percent