Security beefed up at Taj Mahal after bomb threat

Indo-Asian News Service

Agra, July 25, 2006
Security at the Taj Mahal has been beefed up and every visitor is being scanned through electronic surveillance systems after officials received a letter that threatened to bomb the 17th century marbled wonder.
Though senior district officials described the threatening letter, received on Monday at a Jain temple in Rakabganj area, as the work of a prankster, intelligence agencies are not taking any chances.
The letter contained a specific threat to blow off the Taj Mahal and some Jain temples. The sender said he was linked to the Al Qaeda.
Additional security forces are guarding the outer circle of the monument and Central Industrial Security Force personnel are keeping an eye on every visitor through close circuit cameras and other electronic surveillance systems.
Mohammed Mirza, who wrote the letter, also demanded Rs 5 million from several political leaders.
"Let the police make any type of security arrangements, the Taj Mahal will be blown off on August 15," the letter said.
However, senior officials discounted any such possibility. A source described the letter as the handiwork of some prankster. Another official confided that the terrorists, being mostly Islamist fundamentalists, would never attack the Taj or any other Islamic monument in Agra as there are mosques in all of them.
The city is already under constant vigil because of some "SIMI activists having been quite active in the Agra division, which also includes Mathura and Aligarh, two hot spots", said an official.
Due to the large numbers of foreign tourists, the security agencies are keeping high alert and are extra cautious at all the historical monuments, a top official said.
Leaders of the Jain community gathered on Monday evening to discuss the threat to their temples. Valuable Jain statues have been regularly disappearing from various temples in the district.