Panic gripped locals near Bharatmata cinema junction in Parel when they heard the siren of the police vehicle and saw cops including commandos from the Quick Response Team (QRT) rushing into the theatre.
Within minutes, senior police officers including Additional Commissioner of Police (West) Praveen Salunkhe and Zonal Deputy Commissioner (Zone 4) KG Patil rushed to the spot.
As locals began talking about a terrorist sneaking into the theatre, the police cleared the air by announcing on their public address system that it was a mere drill and people need not panic.
Speaking to MiDDAY, Salunkhe said, “Though we were appraised about the mock drill in advance, we were not informed about the timings. As per the plan, soon after the wireless messages were flashed, local police from Bhoiwada police station, QRT team and even a sniffer dog from Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) were pressed into service."
The local police and senior officers managed to reach the spot swiftly after receiving the message.
The QRT commandos stationed at Byculla too reached the location despite traffic. The BDDS team even found two dummy bombs from the cinema hall.
Salunkhe said, “The drill lasted for nearly one hour and I have chalked out certain lapses, which we will discuss in length with the concerned officials. Also, in order to avoid confusion in the minds of the public and to ensure that they do not panic, we will henceforth barricade the place of operation with banners clearing mentioning 'Police drill'."
Curious onlookers were being asked to go away by the cops on duty, while the traffic police ensured that vehicular movement was not affected during the entire operation.
Rubbishing rumours that gun shots were heard from the cinema hall, a senior police officer said that no firing was done during the mock drill.
The purpose of the drill was to check the response time and swift action by the armed commandos.
The police thanked the cinema hall staff for their co-operation and requested them to be alert always.
Mumbai police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Nissar Tamboli said, “We are going to conduct similar mock drills across the city and it will be a continuous process. We want to prepare ourselves for any untoward incident.”