Bomb hoax at Khan Market puts security in a tizzy, businesses suffers
Nearly 200 police personnel conducted a 8-hour-long search operation in Khan Market on Friday after a man called the police control room to warn about a bomb planted in the market. Though police called off the search operations by around 3 pm and gave a clean chit to the caller, till late Friday night there was heavy security in the market. The caller told police he had received a whatsapp message about a bomb planted at the market.
Traders later said that nothing suspicious was found in the market but footfall and business dipped considerably as shoppers stayed away due to the threat.
The police searched the market thoroughly before declaring the call a hoax in the evening. The police tracked down the caller to Punjabi Bagh, who told them that he had received a WhatsApp message from an unknown foreign number saying that a bomb had allegedly been placed in Khan Market. He then informed the police.
The caller, identified as Deepak Verma, has been prima facie given a clean chit by the investigators.
A police officer from Tughlaq Road police station said the call was received at 6.46am. “A man called us to say that a bomb has been planted in Khan Market and hung up immediately,” the officer said.
Delhi Police PRO Madhur Verma said that they had so far found that the message was sent from the US and were trying to track its sender. The caller, Deepak Verma was also questioned by sleuths of Delhi Police’s special cell, who too gave him a clean chit and said the message appeared to be a prank.
Sources said police swung into action immediately after receiving the call with multiple security teams, assisted by personnel from New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Fire Services, scanning the entire Khan Market area along with nearby Prithviraj Market and Lok Nayak Bhawan.
Bomb Disposal Squads (BDS) from at least eight of the 14 police districts and sniffers dogs were pressed into action.
“We scanned the whole area. The shops were closed when we began our search, so we scanned the exterior of all the outlets but found nothing. The message was also shared with the Khan Market Traders’ Association and relayed to all the shopkeepers ,” said a police officer.
The police also removed a handful of vehicles parked in the market and placed entry restrictions on all vehicles.
“Until 2pm, no vehicles were not allowed in the market. Since many of our shoppers use private vehicles, they were forced to turn back,” said Harish Goyal, who runs a popular grocery shop in Khan Market.
Ram Kumar, who runs an optical centre at Khan Market, added that barring a few pedestrians strolling around, the market wore a deserted look . “Trade suffered, but security was tight,” he added.
Khan Market Traders’ Association President Sanjiv Mehra told HT that some cafes and showrooms in the market opened as early as 8.30 am. Once the police shared the bomb threat with the traders body, the owners of these shops were told to push back the opening time.
“ All 25 parking attendants working in the market helped the police in their search,” said Mehra.
Business in the market resumed after 2pm, but with fire tenders and other large vehicles, such as police truck and buses parked in the area, traffic movement remained slow.