The ATS, raised in the aftermath of the serial explosions on October 27 last year, is functional round-the-clock. Fifth in the country after Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kerala, the state’s ATS has been armed with both sufficient manpower and technical equipment. Its personnel have been imparted advanced training by trainers of the Indian Army, National Security Guards and the Jabalpur-based College of Material Management on handling bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The state police personnel had come under sharp criticism after the recovery of live bombs from the site of occurrence a couple of hours after the rally, which had drawn hundreds of people from across the state. The process adopted by the cops to defuse live bombs was found to be inadequate and unprofessional.
The highly trained ATS personnel are now capable of dealing with such a situation in a better way. Inspector-general Dr Paresh Saxena (who carries an MBBS degree) said the situation has changed almost a year after the blasts. “Now, we have a dedicated team of officials, who are professionally trained and able to handle any exigency,” he told The Telegraph.
Saxena said the state ATS would add another feather in its cap over the next three months. “We shall have a separate commando unit on the pattern of the National Investigation Agency and the National Security Guards,” he said, adding that the commandos were under rigorous training.
The control room has been made operational. “It is working 24x7 and our men are busy in gathering intelligence inputs and taking follow-up action. We have a separate police station with its jurisdiction all over the state. Till date, two FIRs have been lodged in connection with terror activities and circulation of fake Indian currency at the ATS police station,” said Saxena.
As the operatives of the terror outfits are tech-savvy and get technical support to carry out their operations, the ATS has planned to impart training to its personnel accordingly. “We have a few officials with engineering background. They are very helpful in dealing with such things,” said the IG.
The government has also promised to depute a prosecution officer to conduct trial of the cases lodged at the ATS police station. “Though we don’t have a designated court like NIA in Patna, the cases are sent to the chief judicial magistrate’s office and subsequently transferred to the court concerned,” he said, adding that a few ambulances were also at their disposal.
The IG refused to divulge the strength of the ATS for security reasons but said two DSP (deputy superintendent of police)-rank officers apart from a number of inspectors, sub-inspectors and constables had been deployed. According to a government notification, the ATS would have a sanctioned strength of 344 personnel, including an IG, DIG and SP each besides six DSPs, 16 inspectors, 36 sub-inspectors and constables.
The ATS has recently been credited with busting the links of some Munger-based arms suppliers with Hizbul Mujahideen, a terror outfit having its base in Jammu and Kashmir. “We are working in co-ordination with other national intelligence agencies like IB, NIA, RAW and the CBI. Our men have always been with the NIA team whenever it visited the state,” Saxena said.
The NIA, which took over the investigation of both the serial blasts in Bodhgaya and Patna, has so far chargesheeted nine persons for their involvement in the Gandhi Maidan blasts case. They are Haider Ali, Numan Ansari, Mujibullah Ansari, Umer Siddiqui, Azharuddin Qureshi, Ahmed Hussain, Fakruddin, Mohammad Firoz Alam and Mohammad Iftequar Alam.
Investigation revealed that the plan for carrying out the attack on Modi at the Hunkar Rally in Patna was chalked out in the Raipur (Chhattisgarh) residence of Umer Siddiqui in the presence of Ali and his associates.
-- The Telegraph, Calcutta