Mumbai police prepared to tackle Sydney-like hostage crisis

  • Rahul Mahajani, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 15, 2014 20:59 IST

A team of 17 police officials has been trained in hostage negotiation, if a situation like Sydney, where a gunman took several people hostage, arises in Mumbai. The team was formed in the wake of the 26/11 terror attacks and goes through regular refresher courses and mock drills.

According to an official, who is part of the team, the officers are posted strategically in various parts of Mumbai. They are now focusing on improving the response time.

The need for such a team was realized after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks, where 10 Pakistan-trained terrorists held hostages at various targets in the city.

After getting clearance from the top officials of the Mumbai police and the home department in May 2012, crime branch inspector Shalini Sharma got training from the Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom (UK). In November 2012, a team from Scotland Yard trained 16 more officials at Bandra-Kurla Complex and Sahyadri guesthouse.

The officers were trained to deal with situations where many citizens or high-profile people are taken hostage, as there have been threats to ministers and consulate officials, among others, in the past.

Apart from terror cases, the team also helped foil suicide bids in the city. In March 2013, when a 17-year old girl threatened to jump from the sixth floor of the building, one of the officers dissuaded her from taking the step. Many such cases were handled discreetly by officials from the team.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai police officials are being briefed about an alert, after the Sydney incident.

Dhananjay Kulkarni, spokesperson for Mumbai police, said preventive action was being taken and checks and combing operations were being conducted. He said the central agencies had sounded an alert a few days ago, following the threat by 5 SIMI operatives.

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