Kolkata: The security in and around the city as well as in the various districts of West Bengal has been beefed up in view of the Republic Day celebration on Tuesday.
With the Intelligence Bureau's alert of possible suicide bomb attacks by a Bangladesh-based terror group in 23 cities, including Kolkata between 23-26 January, the security has been tightened to avoid any untoward incident, a senior officer of Kolkata Police told PTI.
"Since January 20, security in and around the city has been beefed up. We are not taking any chances and have plugged all loopholes regarding security arrangements," the IPS officer said.
The security has been increased at Victoria Memorial, Kalighat temple, Indian Museum, several other iconic structures as well as the buildings housing government and non-governmental offices, shopping malls, Metro stations. The Kolkata Police have also increased patrolling and vigorous checking at entry and exit points of the city, he said.
Around 93 extra police pickets would be there at several junctures of the city besides 13 Quick Response Teams (QRTs) of nearly 10,000 police personnel, he said.
"Security have been increased at entry and exit points of the city. There will be 93 police pickets all over Kolkata and 13 QRTs at strategic locations for fast response," the officer said.
Leaves of all senior officers have been "canceled" and they would be on duty during this period and would continue till this weekend.
Officials at Kolkata Police headquarters at Lalbazar said that following the 13 January Red Road hit-and-run mishap where an Air Force officer was killed by a speeding car during a Republic Day parade rehearsal, "strict" instructions from state secretariat 'Nabanna' have reached the HQ.
On 13 January, Air Force officer Abhimanyu Gaud was mowed down by a car during a parade rehearsal on the Red Road and three persons have been arrested so far in the case.
"Breach of police security has been noticed during the January 13 mishap. Strict instructions have reached us to make foolproof arrangements to avoid any untoward incident after the alert from the Centre," the officer said.
Several meetings among top Kolkata Police officers were held at the police force's headquarters to chalk out an outline of the security arrangements for the city during this period, he said.
"Policemen in the rank of Assistant Commissioners have been deployed round the clock to monitor the Red Road and its surrounding areas ahead of the Republic Day celebrations tomorrow. In fact, flood light towers of the Eden Gardens, Mohun Bagan club and watch towers will be used to keep an eye on movements of vehicles as well as general public," he said.
"CCTV cameras installed at every important locations of the city, especially Park Street, Dharmatala area, Outram Road and Kidderpore Road, Port areas will also be used for keeping a tab on the security of the city," the officer said.
City police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha has inspected security at Red Road on Saturday where important personalities including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi will be present for the parade tomorrow.
"Surprise checking at crucial points besides putting several barricades on the road have been increased. Extensive arrangements for vehicular-checking will be conducted," he said adding that vehicles plying on Vidyasagar Setu are being searched.
Talking about the security arrangements in the districts and the surrounding areas of the city, a senior officer with the Bengal Police said, "border areas are under surveillance. We are having special arrangements for districts adjoining international borders."
Acting on the IB alert, Kolkata Police and Bengal Police have been conducting raids at several places in Barasat in North 24 Parganas as four persons allegedly belonging to Bangladesh-based Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) are tipped to carry out suicide bomb attacks during this period.
As per the alert, two of them — Anisur Rehman and Mohammed Ansari were reportedly hiding in Barasat while the other two, details of whom were yet to be ascertained, were hiding somewhere in Malda district.
"We are alert and our forces are on the vigil..." the officer said.