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Hoax calls keep cops on their toes everywhere
July 28, 2008 18:34 IST
Security was being constantly reviewed in all major cites with additional forces being deployed in Mumbai, Delhi [Images], Kolkata and Chennai in the wake of the serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad [Images] over the weekend. Crowded markets, shopping malls, railway stations and airports were in for extra vigil.
Abandoned and unclaimed objects fuelled panic in a few cities as bomb disposal squads worked overtime to calm people. In cities like Pune, hoax SMSes to avoid busy areas triggered anxious moments.
Hoax calls and panic over abandoned objects were reported in Karnataka, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra. They kept the police on their toes and authorities were taking no chances.
In Madhya Pradesh [Images], another Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state, screening of films at night was banned as a precautionary measure. There were also reports that devotees have been asked not to carry coconuts or any offerings to temples in the state.
The high alert in Kerala sounded on Sunday will continue for a few more days, even as bomb hoaxes were reported from two places in the state on Monday. People in Areekkode in Malappuram district panicked for a while on Monday morning after they found an object wrapped in cellophane tape at a bus stop.
The police carried out an intensive search in a private college in Pathanamthitta after the college received an anonymous call threatening that two bombs had been planted on the campus. The threat turned out to be a hoax.
A bomb squad along with sniffer dogs was immediately pressed into service. But nothing was found, the sources said.
In Chennai, five persons were arrested for circulating hoax SMSes warning of bomb blasts in the city. Commissioner of police R Sekar warned people against such activities, saying it was a non-bailable offence that could also lead to three years' imprisonment. "Even forwarding such messages is a crime," he said.
Railway stations, especially on suburban routes, were under tight security cover and metal detectors were placed at some important stations. Frequent warnings were being issued to passengers through public announcements, to be cautious about unclaimed articles and report the presence of any such articles, to authorities.
In Bangalore, the police were conducting search operations following two phone calls claiming that bombs had been planted in the vicinity of a school and a junior college. Parents of a local school rushed to the institute to pick up their wards, following a threat call that a bomb had been planted in the vicinity, the police said.
A bomb disposal squad rushed to the spot to search the area and defuse any explosives conducted a 45-minute search but found nothing. A similar call was also reported from Jayanagar area which said that a bomb had been planted in the vicinity of Vijayanagar Junior college. The police have not traced any material during searches.
Both calls appear to be hoaxes, the police said, adding that the searches would however continue to rule out the possibility of any explosive material being present at the spots.
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