Scare mounts, hoax calls pour in, police vigil heightensJuly 28th, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Amid increased police vigil following the back-to-back serial bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, a number of bomb scares were reported Monday in parts of the country, raising further the prevailing high tension. Panic prevailed in Uttar Pradesh with police busy scotching bomb rumours and maintaining high security in the communally sensitive state, a report from Lucknow said.
According to officials in the state capital, there were bomb alarms at important places in three districts — Kanpur, Agra and Lucknow.
An unclaimed two-wheeler was found parked in Kanpur’s cantonment area causing an apprehension of a bomb.
“The scooter was found near the Air Force canteen in the cantonment area in the morning (Monday). The bomb squad was immediately called in but nothing was found in it,” Kanpur police chief A.K. Singh told IANS by telephone.
In Lucknow and Agra, the police and bomb squad personnel launched frisking operations to thwart any untoward incident following calls about bombs.
In Agra, the police scanned a commercial building following rumours that a bomb was planted in it.
In state capital Lucknow, police combed the main Charbagh railway station after an unidentified person alerted them about a bomb. Nothing was found.
Pranksters had a field day in Kerala where a number of bomb hoaxes kept the police busy. Security personnel searched a school, the All India Radio station at Alappuzha, and a State Bank of Travancore branch on the outskirts of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. A passenger train also was detained and searched.
All the calls turned out to be hoaxes, but the police took all these with the utmost seriousness.
“The police are on the job… and they are doing their job in the most serious manner,” said Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan.
The Islamic Higher Secondary School at Mathara near Kozhikode declared a holiday Monday following a hoax call. The call threatening a bomb blast came to a telephone booth near the school. The police bomb squad searched the school premises but could find no suspicious object.
“We are taking these phone calls very seriously and are trying to find the persons behind these. The police will take stringent action against these people,” Kozhikode police commissioner Anoop Kuruvila John told IANS.
A train from Kochi to Kottayam was detained at Thrippunithura near Kochi after passengers found two unclaimed bags inside a compartment. The police bomb squad, which reached the station later, shifted the bags to the railway station. The police said the bags contained sweets.
In Orissa, the police arrested a Nepali man and his two sons from Bahalda town in Mayurbhanj district, over 350 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar, for allegedly sending an SMS to a television channel warning them about two blasts in Kolkata.
Gokan Bahadur, 55, was detained along with his sons after the news channel India TV revealed that it had got an SMS threat and the SMS was traced to their cell phone, district superintendent of police Dayal Gangwar told IANS.
The message sent Sunday morning said the Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed responsibility for the serial blasts in Ahmedabad Saturday, would trigger explosions in two places in the West Bengal capital, Gangwar said.
Bahadur, who works in an electricity office, has been living in Bahalda for several years.
Meanwhile, in Kolkata, a large number of policemen were deployed at bus terminals, railway stations and shopping malls.
Passengers at the long-distance bus terminals in Babughat and Esplanade in the heart of the city were being frisked, while police pickets have been set up outside Metro stations. At Howrah railway station, sniffer dogs were being used by the police to check for explosive devices.
Security was also tightened in and around the vital Rabindra Setu, which connects the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah. A large number of policemen were deployed on both sides of the bridge that is used by thousands everyday.
“We have chalked out long-term and short-term measures to prevent any incident like the ones in Banglaore and Ahmedabad,” said West Bengal Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty.