In the wake of a hostage crisis situation at a café in Sydney, a high alert has been sounded by the police in Delhi and Mumbai. According to the Delhi Police, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a directive to this effect following a warning by Indian intelligence agencies.

Security in the cities is being beefed up, especially around café chains like Café Coffee Day, Starbucks, Barista Lavazza, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Costa Coffee. In addition, eateries are also being closely monitored to prevent a Sydney-like incident.

With Christmas round the corner, many shopping malls and eateries are unusually busy. “It is an ideal time for terrorists to target these destinations,” said Rajan Bhagat, the official spokesperson of the Delhi Police. "The Delhi Police is vigilantly monitoring all shopping complexes and malls."

High-level meeting

The order came on Monday after a meeting between senior security officials, the Home Ministry and the National Security Advisor, Ajit Kumar Doval. Other than Delhi and Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune have also been directed to step up security near important establishments.

According to an official at the Ministry of Home Affairs, US intelligence agencies alerted India of a possible terrorist attack in Delhi earlier this month. With US President Barrak Obama set to visit the capital to attend the Republic Day celebrations in little over a month, security officials in the city including have been directed to cover Delhi with an unprecedented blanket of security measures.

Bomb squads and teams of paramilitary forces along with rescue operation teams have been kept on standby in strategic locations in the Capital. Vehicles coming into the city from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are being thoroughly checked.

Patrolling increased

Patrolling has been boosted in central and south Delhi areas, in addition to heavy barricading on several major roads in the Capital.

The leave time of all policemen in Delhi until January 26 has been cancelled. The Delhi Police might also strategically position their SWAT teams with spotters and snipers at vital spots and important embassies depending on further intel from the agencies.

Mumbai is also on red alert after intelligence agencies claimed that the five members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, who escaped from the Khandwa Jail in Madhya Pradesh last year, could be planning to carry out attacks in the city.