The Uran schoolgirl who claimed to have seen armed men in masks on Thursday morning stood by her statement on Friday, while the police intensified search operations along the coast. The police control room also received half a dozen phone calls from people in around Uran, who also claimed to have seen armed men at various places.
A source in the Navi Mumbai police told HT that the girl was called in for a second time on Friday. “We did so to see if there would be any discrepancies in her statement. However, she repeated exactly what she had told us the day before,” said the source, who was present during the girl’s questioning.
The girl told the police she had seen five masked men in black Pathani suits in Kumbharwada while she was on her way to school early on Thursday morning. All of them were carrying backpacks, with the barrel of a gun protruding from each, she said. Though she couldn’t understand exactly what they were saying, she said they talked about attacking her school and an ONGC plant in the area before splitting into two groups.
The police however, did not call in the schoolboy who claimed to have seen an armed man on Thursday. “Half an hour after the girl saw the five masked men, the boy claimed he saw an armed man running down a hillock and climbing back up it immediately. The distance between the two sightings is no more than 70 metres. However, the girl said the men wore masks, while the boy said the man he saw wasn’t wearing one,” the source said.
Another source said hours after the alleged sightings, the Navi Mumbai control room received six calls from members of the public who also claimed to have seen armed men in and around Uran. “An elderly woman claimed that she saw an armed man lying in wait behind some bushes along the Uran-JNPT road. Another person claimed he bumped into a stranger while walking down the road towards Mora jetty. He said the man pulled out a gun and put it on his head, telling him to run away,” the source said.
Navi Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale said that the state of high alert will continue until the police complete their search and combing operations to sanitise the entire coastline, which houses several vital installations, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Port and a naval base.
Early in the day, senior officials from the National Security Guard held discussions with top officials from the Navi Mumbai police at Uran and also questioned the girl. The Quick Response Team, Force One and the local police conducted a joint combing operation of residential areas and hotels along the coast.