After railway stations, airports and malls, hoax callers are now targeting schools. On Wednesday afternoon, police received a call that three bombs had been planted at Modern School, Vasant Vihar. The call was declared a hoax after a detailed search operation.
The number of hoax calls is only growing with each passing year. Last year, the Delhi Police Control Room received 6,668 bogus calls, which means an average of 18 calls a day. There were 119 bomb hoax calls last year.
“A hoax call means a criminal waste of resources. It takes anywhere between two to four hours to carry out a search operation,” a senior police officer said.
Hoax calls in schools means panic among parents and children. It could well start a dangerous precedent.
“We did not tell the children there was a bomb call. Bomb disposal squads and sniffer dogs were pressed into action. We told the children a mock drill was in progress and we carried on the search operations smoothly,” said a senior police officer.
The call was later traced to a PCO near St Stephen’s Hospital in north Delhi. A case has been registered at Vasant Vihar but till late on Thursday no arrests were made.
Security at schools has been stepped up since August 1.
Police said school buses are being parked at a distance from the school buildings and patrolling has been intensified during school hours. Even the traffic police have been pressed into action and they are streamlining the movement of vehicles around schools.
“We have passed strict instructions that school buses be parked at a considerable distance from the schools. We have asked the children to report any suspicious activity and even asked the school staff to be more vigilant,” said H.G.S Dhaliwal, DCP (south).
The bomb call on Wednesday sent parents into a tizzy, with them calling schools to know whether they should send their children to schools or not.
“I decided not to send my children to school on Thursday. I know there was no need to panic but I did not want to take any chances,” said a parent whose children study at Modern School, Vasant Vihar.
Though the police did not receive any fresh call on Thursday, there was panic among parents.
Police said they have started imparting training to children to combat any kind of attack in schools. “Though it is an annual affair, policemen are visiting the schools and sensitizing children. There is no need to panic,” said Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson, Delhi Police.