With the city on alert, officials from three police stations were given a wake-up call on Tuesday, after an unclaimed bag was found outside their south Mumbai headquarters. The search for the owner of the bag kept them on their toes for 24 hours.
At 4 pm, a member of the public reported to the police control room an abandoned bag kept outside the main gate where the police top brass park their respective vehicles. The control room in turn notified MRA Marg, L T Marg and Azad Maidan police stations.
Cops then swooped down on the HQ and began searching for other suspicious objects around the premises, including the commissioner’s and additional commissioner’s offices. The bomb squad arrived to verify the bag’s contents -- presumed to be explosives.
“The bag was kept below a police car in the parking where cops from different units in the commissioner’s office park vehicles. Six dog and bomb squads were called to the spot after the bag was found,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity.
After a harrowing hour-and-a-half, which saw top-level officers like the additional commissioner (south region), deputy commissioner (zone I) and assistant commissioner (all divisions) scouring the premises, the bomb squad opened up the bag at 5.30 pm, only to find clothes stuffed inside.
Just a drill
By now, the bag had irked the police officials enough to step up combing operations to trace the person who left it right under their superiors’ noses. After spending the whole day trying to locate the owner, the cops were yesterday informed that the entire operation was a mock emergency response drill by the Mumbai police’s Protection and Security (P&S) branch to test the preparedness -- sharpness, communication and coordination -- among local police stations.
“We keep conducting such mock drills across the city to gauge the response time taken by the local police to arrive at the spot after being notified of suspicious objects in their jurisdiction. Even the top-level officers belonging to that jurisdiction are not informed that it is a mock drill,” said a senior official from Special Branch.