Mumbai, Dec. 3: Hoax bomb calls flooded police control rooms across this metropolis today after a powerful bomb, planted in a parked bus at Ghatkopar, killed three persons yesterday and wounded 38 others, 15 of them critically.
“The police force is already stretched and these hoaxes don’t help matters at all,” a senior police official said. “But no one can afford to take any chances. People are genuinely scared of travelling by buses and trains.”
The calls came from all over a jittery Mumbai, including Andheri, Borivli, Dadar and Nariman Point. There were numerous hoax alerts from Ghatkopar.
Bomb disposal squads came up with an empty box at Makers Chamber on Nariman Point this morning, while the “bomb” in Ghatkopar turned out to be a bag full of old clothes.
The Maharashtra government plans to set up a Quick Response Team of police commandos on the lines of the elite National Security Guards (NSG), said deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who also holds the home portfolio.
The “highly-trained, highly-motivated and highly-competent” squad will initially have 56 members, who would be trained to deal with terrorist and hostage crises, he added.
Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the blast and the police are reluctant to attribute it to any particular individual or militant group, Bhujbal said. The explosive device was not RDX but made of “gelatine sticks” set off by a timer, the minister added.
Union minister of state for home I.D. Swamy arrived here today to take stock of the situation and visit the blast site.
An NSG team arrived in the morning to study the nature of the explosion and visited the injured at Rajawadi Hospital to analyse their wounds. It will submit a detailed report later.
Facing allegations that the blast was a failure of police intelligence, Bhujbal said: “No amount of police bandobast has been able to stop terrorist acts in Jammu and Kashmir or even in Delhi. We can’t blame the local police, who are already under heavy pressure. Every citizen now needs to be an alert policeman. It’s impossible for the police to check every individual.”
A red alert has been issued in the state, particularly in Mumbai.
Central and Western Railway have intensified their security detail. Railway vigilance has been stepped up. Checking has also been intensified in all suburban trains and rail yards, said Western Railway spokesman Shailendra Kumar.