Pune fails terror test

Published: 06 December, 2012 07:45 IST | Sandip Kolhatkar |

Cops place bags at two popular restaurants on FC Road; neither customers nor hotel staff call control room to inform them about abandoned objects.

Despite the serial blasts that occurred on JM Road on August 1, the citizens still appear lethargic in informing the police control room about abandoned and suspicious items in public places.

Mock drills conducted by officials of the Deccan Gymkhana police station at a couple famous South Indian restaurants on FC Road proved unsuccessful as hotel authorities, out of curiosity, opened the abandoned bags instead of informing the police control room.

Scrutiny: A BDDS personnel checks an abandoned bag during a mock drill held on FC Road recently

In German Bakery blast too, curiosity got better of one of its waiter who opened the bag that which exploded. Police officials believe that the reason why hotel authorities did not inform them was because they thought that business might get affected and presence police and Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) at the hotels would have a negative impact on their business.  As a part of the public awareness programmes, the police are conducting mock drills at various crowded and important places in the city. 

Checking for explosives: A BDDS personnel scrutinise an abandoned bag on the FC Road during a mock drill that was conducted recently

Police Inspector Manohar Joshi of the Deccan Gymkhana police station said, “To check alertness and awareness level among people in the city, we decided to conduct mock drills at two famous South Indian restaurants, which are always crowded by food lovers, on Monday. But both the drills failed miserably as hotel authorities did inform police after locating the bags and opened it themselves.”

He said yesterday
a police officer went to one of the restaurants and left a bag under one of the tables. “For a long time we didn’t receive any call, informing us about an abandoned bag lying under the table. When we visited the restaurant after two hours, we were in for a rude shock after learning that a waiter, who found the bag, took it from under the table and kept it on a chair. He didn’t even inform the hotel management about bag, which could have had a bomb or explosives in it, ” Joshi said.

He said after the first mock drill failed, officials decided to conduct another one at an equally famous South Indian restaurant. “The police personnel, who had kept the bag at the first hotel, left a bag under a chair at the second hotel at 7 pm. This time too, we didn’t receive any calls from the hotel management,” Joshi said.

Case II
In the second case, the waiter handed over the bag to the manager who opened it without thinking twice.  “We then summoned the managers of both the hotels and reprimanded them for the gross negligence and unawareness exhibited by them,” Joshi said. 

He said based on the recent terrorist attacks and the constant inputs from intelligence agencies, the police department was spreading awareness about terrorism by putting up public messages and warning them to stay away from unidentified or abandoned objects spotted at public places.

“Despite awareness programmes, such incidences really makes us think about how much prepared we are and how much alert we are while dealing with such cases,” Joshi said. 

Mock drill turns terror tourism
AGAINST the backdrop of the recent execution of 26/11 Mumbai attack terrorist Ajmal Qasab and the serial blasts on the JM Road on August 1, the city police yesterday conducted a mock drill on the crowded Fergusson College Road to check citizens’ alertness in handling untoward situations.
A large number of students, passers-by and locals gather o check the drill and failed to disperse despite repeated warnings issued by the police personnel.

“A bag was kept at the bus stop near Ranade Institute and as expected the control room received a call informing about the abandoned bag. Within ten minutes, the Bomb Detention and Disposal Squad (BDDS) personnel rushed to the spot and traffic from both sides of the road was blocked,” BDDS Police Inspector Madhav Shinde said.

He said while the drill was on, several BDDS personnel doubled as traffic police, to control traffic, and police officials, to control the ever-increasing crowd.
He claimed that instead of acting sensibly, the crowd was trying to come closer to the spot where the bag was kept and despite repeated warnings kept on clicking pictures.

Police Inspector Manohar Joshi said soon after the control room was informed about the bag, a couple of beat marshals were rushed to the spot. Joshi said it were the marshals who informed the BDDS. And while the BDDS personnel were on their way, the marshals stopped the traffic and were controlling the crowd. 

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