When Mumbai steps out to bring in the New Year, more than 50,000 police personnel will patrol the streets to keep party-goers safe.
Between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, security personnel, including members of the state reserve police force (SRPF) and the riot control police, will be posted on roads, railway stations and at popular New Year’s Eve spots.
Sources said all weekly offs and holidays have been cancelled to have all hands on deck — from senior police officers to the constabulary, all officials will be on bandobast duty.
While there is no specific terror threat, officials said they will check people who have come from outside Mumbai, especially after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) busted ISIS modules across India and arrested several people from Mumbai.
“We will verify records of people who have come from outside and are staying in hotels or guest houses. The Anti-Terrorism Cell (ATC) and police personnel of every police station will keep an eye on suspicious movements and people in their areas. Anti-Sabotage measures are in place, while Quick Response Teams (QRT) units will be stationed strategically for immediate response,” an officer told HT.
“We have called 13 companies of the state reserve police force (SRPF) to help the city police during nakabandi. We will keep a watch on crowded places like beaches and promenades. Permissions have not been given for boat parties owing to security concerns,” said Ashok Dudhe, the Deputy Commissioner of police and Mumbai police spokesperson.
The crime branch will also be on duty on the night of December 31 and officers in plain clothes will be posted at party places. Sources said the police are following a four-point strategy — a drive against drink driving, anti-terror measures, anti-eve teasing and focussing on bikers riding without helmets.
Customs officials up security at airport
Smuggling syndicates that use the festive season, when passenger traffic is at its peak, are being watched as New Year’s Eve approaches.
The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Mumbai customs has beefed up vigilance to check smuggling, especially of narcotics and gold, and flights in and out of the city will be closely monitored all week.
“Drugs such as heroin and other synthetic drugs are in demand in African countries. We are keeping a watch on flights flying to African countries,” said a high-ranking officer.
A special watch is also being kept on departures, after flyers were caught taking Indian currency out of the country, following the demonetisation announcement.
“We have a strike unit and an investigation cell. Strike units are deployed round-the-clock at the airport. The investigation wing interrogates those who have been caught with undeclared gold or currency,” said the officer.
Investigators said smugglers are coming with new ways to dodge customs. A growing trend is that of exploiting youngsters or airport staffers — lured by easy money — as carriers or mules .
Authorities said the holiday season rush was an ideal time for black money hoarders trying to bring back their money from abroad into the country and convert it into white. To stop this, the AIU has been scanning fliers to check if any excess money is being brought in.
Officials are focusing on passenger profiling to detect more smuggling cases. The suspects are quizzed for their purpose of visit and if there are inconclusive replies, they resort to further investigation.
(With inputs from Pratik Salunke)