Saturday, December 31, 2005

Hoax bomb calls create panic in Bangalore

Hoax bomb calls create panic in Bangalore

The Hindu

Police search three colleges, a software firm and two malls

# People urged not to panic and allow miscreants to `have an upper hand'
# Police officials not forthcoming on details of calls

BANGALORE: Students of three colleges, employees of a leading software company and hundreds of shoppers at two leading malls here faced anxious moments on Friday following calls and messages on mobile phones that bombs have been planted at these places.

The Commissioner of Police, Ajai Kumar Singh, told presspersons that the police conducted searches and did not find explosives.

He said all the calls turned out to be hoax. Dr. Singh appealed to the public not to panic and allow miscreants to "have an upper hand."

Police officials were not forthcoming on details of the calls and searches they conducted, apparently because, it would create more fear in the public mind. Police sources told The Hindu that several people on Friday morning received SMS on their mobile phones that bombs have been planted at Garuda Mall on Magarath Road and Forum on Hosur Road, IBM facility in Koramangala and a few other places on Brigade Road.

A person telephoned the Police Control Room and informed that he had received such a message on his mobile phone. The police immediately swung into action. But the staff at the control room could not record the call, the sources said.

Several people, who had received such messages, forwarded them to others and this caused panic, the sources said. They said they are working with mobile service providers to trace the origin of the messages.

Meanwhile, a telephone call was made to the control room that explosives have been planted at Oxford Dental College in J.P. Nagar, Krupanidhi College in Koramangala and a nursing college in Banaswadi. The scared employees of IBM rushed out of their office on getting messages of the bomb threat on their mobile phones. Work was reportedly affected at the firm for some time. There was another hoax call on Thursday night that bombs have been planted at a commercial complex on Bannerghatta Road, which houses a software firm and Airtel office, the police said. The bomb threats have apparently created a fear psychosis in the public mind, as such hoax calls and messages have come soon after the terrorist attack on the Indian Institute of Science.

On an average, at least two bomb hoax calls are reported every month. Often such calls have put the short-staffed and over-burdened police under tremendous pressure and hindered their routine work as it happened on Friday. Explaining the hardship they are facing, a senior police official said: "Mobilising the personnel of the Bomb Detection Squad and sniffer dogs takes time as they are based at different places. But the police cannot ignore such calls and take chances as, if something untoward happens, there will be loss of life and property, he said. While mischief mongers are taking the police for a ride by making such hoax calls, the police have not been able to identify the callers who normally make calls from public call offices.


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