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Survey conducted in Kashmir villages on Bush visit

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Srinagar, Mar 1: Security forces have conducted a survey of all the areas inhabited by members of minority communities in the Valley a few days ago to thwart any militant attempt to launch terror attacks during US President George W Bush's visit to India, a senior Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official said today.

''We have identified and conducted a survey of all the Sikh and Hindu-dominated areas in the Valley a few days ago. Security has been further beefed up in all such areas,'' CRPF Inspector General of Police (IGP) A P Maheshwari told reporters here.

He said the survey was jointly conducted by the CRPF and the Jammu and Kashmir police.

Security has been strengthened in all minority-dominated areas, particularly the villages attacked by the militants in the past, the IGP added.

''We have deployed additional security personnel in all sensitive areas to ensure that no violence takes place there,'' he said.

Mr Maheshwari said he along with the Inspector General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, K Rajendra Kumar, had conducted the exercise some days ago.

Official sources said a high alert has been sounded in entire Jammu and Kashmir for the US President's three-day visit to India, beginning today, following intelligence reports that militants are planning to carry out a series of terror attacks in the state during the high-profile tour.

They said unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place in the entire state in view of President Bush's visit.

Security agencies and personnel across the state have been asked to be in a state of high alert for the next three days following intelligence reports that militants were planning to carry out terror attacks, including car bomb explosions, in various parts of the state during the high-profile visit, they added.

The sources said the security personnel are keeping their fingers crossed in the hope that no untoward incident occurs during the US President's visit.

The massacre of 36 Sikhs at Chattisinghpora village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district by unidentified gunmen on the night of March 20, 2000 is fresh in the minds of the security personnel.

The large-scale killings took place on the eve of the visit of then US President Bill Clinton to India.

Militants attacked the family quarters of the Army personnel at Kaluchak cantonment area near Jammu on May 14, 2002, a day after then US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca arrived in New Delhi on a visit.

At least 32 people, most of them family members of the Army personnel, were killed and more than 60 wounded in the attack.

Security forces, armed with snipers and electronic surveillance gadgets, have mounted surveillance in ''most vulnerable areas'' of the state.

Surveillance cameras have been installed at various places in both Jammu and Srinagar cities to maintain a constant vigil over sensitive spots and suspicious persons.

Sniffer dogs have also been pressed into service to detect hidden explosive devices.

''We are on high alert and are determined to foil any attempt by the militants to cause large-scale disturbances during the US President's visit,'' a senior security official said.

He said night patrolling in the ''most vulnerable and sensitive areas'' of the state has been intensified.

UNI

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