In the second such hoax threat in a week, the callers rang up the Air India call centre and threatened to carry out a bomb blast and even asked for suggestions for a crowded spot to target
“We were just joking,” said a caller, right after he and his friend made a bomb threat to Air India on Saturday. Such prank calls, however, are no laughing matter for the authorities, who are concerned about the rising number of hoax threats they have had to deal with in the recent past.
The incident — the second such prank call in the city in a week’s time — took place around 5 pm on Saturday, when one of the managers at the Air India call centre received a call from someone who identified himself as Abdul Sheikh Rehman.
“Mujhe bomb blast karna hai, aap mujhe koi bheed waali jagah bataayein,” (I want to carry out a bomb blast, please suggest a crowded place) Rehman told the manager. When the manager asked him why he wanted to carry out a blast, he said, “Mujhe India se nafrat hain (I hate India).”
No sooner had the caller said this, however, than his friend – who said his name was Amir Al Wali – said, “Hum to mazaak kar rahe the (We were only joking).” According to officials, the callers immediately disconnected the call. An Air India Official said the authorities were informed about the call according to procedure.
No joking matter
An FIR was registered against the duo at Shrinagar police station in Thane, which has jurisdiction in the area where the Air India call centre is located. The case was filed against unidentified persons under Section 505 (1) (b) (Statements conducing to public mischief with intent to cause fear or alarm) of the Indian Penal Code.
Hemendra Singh, PRO for CISF said, “According to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) a Bomb Threat Assessment Committee (BTAC) is formed, after which the call is decided to be either a specific or a non-specific threat. Whatever be the case, any such call directly increases pressure on not only the security agencies and airport staff, but also the airport operator. Such hoax calls have increased in number tremendously, and are definitely a cause for worry.”
“Once a threat call is received, the number is traced and the higher officials of the airline are informed, after which an FIR is registered at the local police station and the airport authorities are alerted to keep the security tight,” explained a senior airport official linked to the case.
Mumbai Airport was on high alert on September 29, after an operator received a call on Monday night stating that the domestic and international terminals, and the Taj Mahal Hotel could be attacked.
The caller claimed that he had overheard a group of people at Andheri station, discussing that five vehicles would be blown up the domestic and international airports, as well as the Taj hotel between
9 and 10 am on Tuesday morning.
An FIR was also registered in this case at the Sahar police station (‘Man calls airport, says he overheard plan about attack’, mid-day, September 30). No updates have come up in the case, as it was an Internet-based call, which is harder to trace.
“Internet calls have been a cause for worry, as they cannot be traced at all. Many a time, callers call from a public booth and from outside the city or state. At such times too, it gets difficult to locate the caller. However, as for security sake, we cannot take the slightest risk, and immediately inform the airport officials to stay alert,” said Thane Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 5) V B Chandanshive.