India’s spiritual gathering in Haridwar under terrorist threat
DEHRADUN (The Statesman/ANN) - A detained Inter-Services Intelligence spy revealed that the pilgrimage town of Haridwar was on terrorists' target list in January next year.
The Ardha Kumbha Mela, one of the biggest spiritual congregations in India, which will begin in the temple town of Haridwar in January 2016, is reportedly on the terrorists’ target list. The recent arrest of a spy in Uttar Pradesh has revealed that the gathering could be under threat from terrorists, adding to the security concerns of the Uttarakhand state police.
The state police are taking extra precautions to ensure full-proof security to the venue that will draw millions of pilgrims for the first “holy bath” in the Ganges on January 14, an auspicious day on the Indian spiritual calendar.
“The Uttarakhand police know about the plot revealed by the Pakistani spy,” GS Martolia, deputy inspector-general of police, Ardha Kumbh Mela, told the media.
An Inter-Services Intelligence agent, Ijaz, arrested by a Special Task Force of the police in Meerut on November 27, admitted that the religious gathering could be exposed to terrorist attacks.
Documents, including photographs and maps, recovered from the suspected spy, indicated that terrorist organisations were positing vigil in specific areas across the country – and scoping out potential sites for subversive activity. One of the venues was the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar at the foothills of the Himalayas on the bank of the Ganges.
The gathering draws millions of devotees from across the country and abroad, who flock to the river bank to invoke the deities of the Hindu pantheon with holy dips in the river. The fair beginning January will last through March over a period of three months when the planet Jupiter is in the house Aquarius and the Sun in Aries.
A team from the Uttarakhand police, sent to Meerut to interrogate the suspect, learnt that the “ISI agent” from Pakistan had stayed in Haridwar for few days to inspect the site of the fair. The police recovered a map and photograph of the Raiwala region in Haridwar from the suspect. The “agent” confessed during interrogation that he had informed his “bosses” about the significance of the Ardha Kumbh Mela and the kind of crowd it drew.
The Uttarakhand police said Haridwar with a floating population of 100,000 on an average every day was a “soft target” for terrorists, particularly during major religious gatherings as the crowd multiplied.
- India, Spirituality, Threat