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2 phones, 10 calls, 0 clues

The two pay phones from where the 10 calls were made to the police control room are located barely five metres away from a police booth in Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital. See map

delhi Updated: Sep 09, 2009 00:35 IST
Vijaita Singh

The two pay phones from where the 10 calls were made to the police control room are located barely five metres away from a police booth in Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital.

Yet, while the unidentified man kept calling through the morning and the afternoon, the police could not track down and arrest him.

Plain clothesmen could have been easily deployed near the pay phones and the hoax caller could have been arrested.

“All the calls were traced to the same phone booths in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. We traced the calls received at the police control room and found that all of them have been made from the two numbers,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity. See map

More than 200 policemen, 20 fire service vans, 30 police control room vans, 16 sniffer dogs and 10 quick reaction teams (QRT) and 40 members of the bomb disposal squad (BDS) were rushed to the eight places — RML Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital, Vikas Minar, NDMC building, Town Hall, Rajiv Chowk Metro Station, New Delhi Railway Station and Old Delhi Railway Station — where bombs were allegedly planted.

“There are no closed circuit television cameras (in the hospital), or the person could have been caught easily,” said Shankar Dash, additional commissioner of police (New Delhi).

Police said after the first four calls were received between 10.08 am and 10.40 am, they mounted surveillance in the premises.

“We searched the entire premises till 1 pm. When all the calls were declared to be hoaxes, the police teams dispersed from the site, and the man made the calls again 2 pm onwards,” said the officer.

Police said they had not registered a case yet but were looking for the person behind the spate of hoax calls.

NDMC building

Police got a call that a bomb was kept in the basement of New Delhi Municipal Corporation’s (NDMC) head office in Connaught Place.

The building was evacuated by 11 am. Bomb squad teams and sniffer dogs sanitised the area and by 12.30 pm employees were allowed to go back in.

“This is the first bomb scare in 20-25 years, but there was no panic,” a spokesperson said.

An education department employee said the evacuation announcement was made on the loudspeaker.

“This time, people were taken outside the gate,” said another employee, adding that normally during mock drills, they are kept inside the NDMC gates.

Vikas Minar

Around 10 am, as babus started trudging in to Vikas Minar — the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) office at ITO — they were stopped by police at the entry gates and asked to wait.

Those already inside were first brought to the ground floor.

“There was a sense of fear but no panic as such. The entire building was evacuated within minutes,” said R M Lal, a senior DDA official.

The bomb squad and sniffer dogs combed the building before declaring it safe at 11 am. “The police for once was very swift,” said an employee.

“It was a good half-hour break for us,” said another employee who didn’t want to be named.

Safdarjung hospital

Instead of doctors and nurses, sniffer dogs and armed policemen did the rounds of wards at Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday morning.

For about two hours, the hospital remained paralysed as out patient services were called off at 9. 45 am after Delhi Police received call warning them of a bomb in the hospital.

“The OPD and casualty services departments were evacuated and no visitors were allowed in,” said Dr Jagdish Prasad, medical superintendent.

“Ask the police to look into the green dustbins,” said Rahim Khan (82), who was stopped at the gates when he came to visit his wife, who is battling for life in the cardiac ICU.

Metro stations

Already grappling with disruption of services on the Indraprastha-Dwarka line, Delhi Metro officials went into a tizzy when Delhi Police informed them at 2.17 pm about a threat to blow up Rajiv Chowk Metro station within an hour.

Four minutes later, they were informed about a bomb planted at Chandni Chowk station.

No announcement was made to alert passengers. “A number of khaki-clad men and Metro officials were on the platform and near token counters. Staff at shops inside the station were also alerted,” said Deepak Kain, a passenger at Rajiv Chowk.

The stations were declared safe at 4 pm.

Town hall

Saroj Sharma from Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s (MCD) health department had resumed work after lunch when civil defence personnel asked everybody leave the Town Hall “as there was a bomb call at around 2.15 pm”.

“We gathered in the park in front. (But) though we were told there was a bomb, there was no panic,” he said. Town Hall houses around 4,000 people.

Police put up barricades on parallel roads north and south of the Town Hall.

MCD Director (Press and Information) Deep Mathur said, “The place was declared safe at 4.15 pm.”
But most staff had left for the day by then.

RML hospital

While sniffer dogs and bomb disposal squads searched Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital for bombs, there was little panic. RML was turned into a fortress, but no major problem was reported.

“We were asked to vacate the operation theatre. We were told it was a bomb call only after the search was over,” said a doctor.

“I didn’t see any patient running,” said Sunil Roy, a shopkeeper at the hospital.