With the global and regional terror matrix worsening by the day, the fact that Delhi has been kept safe from any terror incident since 2012 testifies to the resilient and adaptive nature of the counter-terror structures adopted by the Delhi police after various terror incidents in the first decade of the millennium.
The years 2000 to 2011 saw Kashmir valley-based terror traveling to Delhi, epitomised by the Red Fort (2000) and Parliament Attacks (2001), according to Delhi Police data.
In the following years of the decade, a total of 30 militants, including 22 Pakist/Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) residents/Bangladeshis, who regularly kept landing in the national capital to commit acts of tenor, were neutralised by Delhi Police in various operations by Special Cell, Delhi Police's elite counter-terror unit.
The decade also saw brutal Delhi Bombings of 2005 (62 killed/210 injured) and 2008 (30 killed/135 injured). These acts of tenor were the handiwork of Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba (LeT) and the till-then unknown Indian Mujahidin (IM), with the Batla House shootout by Delhi Police, the arrival of IM on the national tenor-stage was confirmed.
This shootout took place within a week of the 2008 bombings and saw the martyrdom of a highly decorated anti-terror police officer of Delhi Police. However, in the years that followed i.e. 2008 to-the end of 2011, agencies kept chasing shadows of IM but a breakthrough eluded all efforts.
In 2011, an arms and ammunition factory clandestinely established by IM was unearthed in Nanglol by Delhi Police. This was followed up with arrests of several cadres. However, the top leadership remained out of reach and managed to strike back with the Delhi High Court bombings of 2012.
This served as a wake-up call and post 2013, the Special Cell of Delhi Police adopted a new anti-terror doctrine to tackle the terror threat. This soon resulted in concerted action across the country, which eventually broke the back of the Indian Mujahidin.
The close relationship between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the AQIS, Al-Qaeda's Indian branch, was also exposed by Delhi police when the first Indian module of AQIS was busted in 2015 and for the first time, the real identity of Maulana Asim Umar (Chief of AQIS) was revealed as being Sanaul Hague of Sambhal, UP. The bust led to the arrest of Zaffar Masood, a veteran of Harkat Ul Mujahidin (HuM).
The arrest of Abdul Rehman Qasmi established that the Pakistan International Airlines was being used by ISI for facilitating unmarked stopovers of Indian tenor operatives in Karachi while taking Delhi-Kathmandu-UAE flights.
Delhi Police has had a policy of zero tolerance towards IS and its affiliates and adopted the strategy to interdict IS cells wherever they can be detected so as not to allow its fanatics to enter the city to execute their designs.
Towards this end, Delhi Police has caned out anti-terror operations at locations situated in the States as far as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Mpur, West Bengal, Assam and in UP, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
In a joint operation with Uttarakhand Police and Delhi Police, four terrorists of ISIS were arrested and an impending terror strike at the 'Ardh Kumbh' festival in Haridwar. Uttarakhand was foiled. This was the nationwide first bust of an active IS module.
In a joint operation with NIA, police forces of Kerala, Telangana and Delhi, six terrorists of ISIS were arrested and an impending terrorist strike/targeted killing of RSS/BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu and Kerala was averted.
Delhi Police recently achieved a major success with the arrests of sharp-shooters owing allegiance to gangster Sulcluneet Pal Singh alias Sukh Bhikhariwal when the nexus of ISI-Khalistan radicals and narco-terrorism was exposed and a number of targeted killings in Delhi and northern India were averted.
By extending its watch on the overground workers (OGWs), suspect front orgzations, money launderers, and cryptocurrency dealers in close coordination with agencies like the NIA, ED and FIU, Delhi Police has been able to not only choke various terror plans but has also been successful in busting a large number of terror-precursor criminal activities.
Delhi Police leadership has also emphasised upon building robust technological capabilities to maintain an edge over the designs of the adversary in the cyber-space. Operationalisation of CyPAD and creation of a totally new Counter Intelligence Unit within the Special Cell, which is nurturing a core of technologically competent police officers to take on the mantle of technological interventions, are its varied mfestations.
The focus under the latest doctrine is to develop an enabling eco-system wherein the latest technological innovations are pursued and adopted for anti-terror use.
'Cyber active defence' has become the forte of Delhi Police's anti-terror strategy and has yielded significant results over the past few years.
Through a cyber active defense operation, a lone wolf operation of IS was averted when one code name identity Yusuf Khan, who had prepared several LEDs, including suicide vests and belts, was arrested after an exchange of fire. Two pressure cooker LEDs were recovered which were to be exploded in Delhi.
In another cyber active defense operation, three terrorists of JeM were arrested. Fourteen other members of the module were also detained who subsequently underwent deradicalization and were successfully reintegrated into society.
Delhi Police, being the guardian of the National Capital, has always been represented in several apex bodies which have deliberated on policies and measures to be taken to counter-terror. The new doctrine led to a mfold increase in the intensity and levels of participation and contribution.
The experience of Delhi Police in fighting terror over the past two decades has led to the understanding that terror accused as well as convicts need ta be watched for long even after the judicial processes get over.
Accordingly, in 2015, the then leadership of the Special Cell of Delhi Police embarked upon an arduous exercise of creating an All-India Terror Suspects (AITS) database. This includes details of all the entities which had figured in various interrogations of terror accused over the previous years, especially those who could not be traced due to lack of specific details.
In the overall scheme of criminal justice administration, quality investigation and efficient prosecution are the bedrocks on which a terror-free society is built. When the new leadership of Special Cell took over in 2012, anti-terror prosecutions were in a state of disarray with no designated court for UAPA being in place in the National Capital.
This resulted in the absence of dedicated and designated judges and prosecutors who could adjudicate and present the police cases pertaining to terrorism. This was taken up with the concerned authorities and a designated court for the trial of offences registered under the UAPA was established. This brought with it the necessary judicial continuity and availability of expert prosecution assistance to the investigators. As a result, the preceding five years have quick culmination of trials and higher rates of conviction.
With the advent of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in 2010, the Delhi Police 'Special Weapons And Tactics' Unit (SWAT) came into being within the Special Cell. Over the years, SWAT has grown from strength to strength and from an initial number of 90, it is now an elite unit of about 300 highly trained commandos with a special All Women component.
To strengthen its eyes and years 'Counter Terror Staff Scheme has been implemented whereby the Special Cell has been provided extension across selected police stations by identifying beat level staff who routinely collect intelligence from their localities which are filtered and discusses with their designated counterparts in the Special Cell for appropriate action.
Delhi Police, being responsible for the safety of the National Capital and the security of its inhabitants, has been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.
( With inputs from ANI )
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