One week on, Mumbai Police has no clue about ‘suspicious’ paragliders

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jan 21, 2016 16:22 IST
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Mumbai Police is yet to find anything about the six paragliders who were spotted by a pilot about 1.5 to 2 nautical miles away from the city’s coast on January 13.

Sources in Mumbai Police said multiple agencies have probed the alert but have not found anything significant in their inquiry. The local police conducted combing operations in the area and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) also launched an extensive inquiry but could not find anything relevant.

“Paragliding is not allowed within the city limits. There are no proper take-off points or the kind of wind you need. The ATS and the local police have been in touch regarding this incident to understand the technicality of paragliding,” Astrid Rao, co-owner of Nirvana Adventures which organises paragliding activities in Kamshet in Pune district, said.

While there is no specific intelligence, every alert is being taken seriously with Republic Day round the corner.

Captain RS Nandal of the Pawan Hans told officers at the Santacruz police station that he had spotted the six men flying white and blue paragliders about 1000 to 1600 feet above ground level near the JW Mariott Hotel in Juhu while flying his helicopter at 9.10am. ( Read more here )

After the captain reported the incident, senior police inspector Shantanu Pawar wrote a letter alerting all the agencies including the ATS, crime branch, special branch and the Mumbai Police’s control room.

Authorities have taken the incident seriously after a 2010 intelligence report that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had procured 50 paragliders from Europe and was conducting a training in Pakistan to launch an aerial attack. The intelligence bureau had asked state police agencies across the country to remain vigilant.

This was corroborated after the arrest and interrogation of Syed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, an alleged mastermind of the 26/11 terror attacks. In 2012, Jundal had informed investigators that he had seen about 150 paragliders in a room, which the LeT called the ‘Jumbo Room’, in Karachi and that the terrorist outfit had plans to attack using both the aerial and sea routes.

Soon after the pilot’s alert about the six paragliders, another message threatening an attack on Mumbai suburban trains has kept the city police on its toes. However, Mumbai Police has dismissed the threat as a rumour.

“Rumour Alert - Please do not believe in rumours about a threat to the local trains,” it said on its Twitter account.

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