For more than a fortnight, Mumbai residents have been seeing heavy police presence across the city. By Wednesday, the police and security agencies stepped up security measures even further after receiving two threats.
Security agencies were rattled after a housekeeping staff at the Mumbai airport noticed some words scribbled in the men’s toilet at Terminal 2 on Tuesday evening.
The staff member informed the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) official on duty, which led to the agency to put the airport under high alert.
The message threatened of a terror strike by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Saturday.
The airport was already on alert following ‘hijack’ threats to Air India flights in New Delhi last week.
Also, a general alert was issued across all police stations in Mumbai to maintain vigil in their respective areas for any suspicious movements or persons.
Investigators, who registered an FIR at Sahar police station, are finding it difficult to ascertain the identity of the man who may have written the message. “Whoever has written it knew that he would not be under surveillance of the closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs), which otherwise cover almost all entry and exit points at the airport,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity.
Sources in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) said the agencies guarding the airport spent the day scanning CCTV camera footage of the airport’s arrival plaza, looking for leads. “It is a difficult nut to crack, as the area sees thousands of people including passengers, airport staff, crew and personnel from other departments,” said a senior security official.
Sahar police said have started recording the statements of staff members and others working at the airport.
“We have not registered a case against any one yet. We do not want to take any chance, hence security has been increased,” said Virendra Mishra, deputy commissioner of police, zone 8.
Later on Tuesday the night, the Air India’s call centre in Thane received an anonymous call warning an explosion in one of the airline’s flights. “It was a non-specific alert. We are doing requisite preventive checks,” said an Air India spokesperson.
CISF sources, however, said the mystery caller called back and admitted that he was ‘joking’.
The Thane office had received a similar call on Monday, where a caller had threated to hijack one of the AI planes.
The security alerts started on December 23, 2014, when a conversation between alleged terrorists was intercepted. “It seemed from their conversations that the ‘terrorists’ were to conduct a reconnaissance, but we could not take any chances and an alert was issued across the city,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity.
After a low-intensity blast in Bangalore, and a threat to hijack an aircraft flying from India to Kabul, the Mumbai police have pressed more personnel to man vital installations.