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Fear factor

Hoax calls post 11/7 are working upon public psyche, write Anamika Chatterjee and Sonal Srivastava.
None | By Anamika Chatterjee and Sonal Srivastava
PUBLISHED ON JUL 26, 2006 03:23 PM IST

There’s more to a bomb than a blast, at least for the security agencies. A hoax call, for instance. Post 7/11, the security agencies seem to be living a nightmare dealing with the hoax calls. Beginning with the one at India Gate, there have been prank calls for bombs at Akshardham and Satyam Cineplex too. More recently, there was a hoax call for the Red Fort. Obviously, the pranksters are working overtime, keeping the security agencies on their toes and fanning fear.

Fear psychosis: While the security agencies stay on high alert anyways after a blast, it is the public psyche that gets damaged at the prospect of facing death. Says Jitendra Nagpal of Vimhans, “Fear psychosis works among those who have seen tragedies like Uphaar. More than the actual tragedy, it’s the panic that creates injuries. The police should be allowed to investigate peacefully, maintaining the sanity of the environment.” Ajay Chaudhary, ADCP, East Delhi, says, “Those who spread rumours cause a lot of problems and create panic unnecessarily. The hoax call messages are also picked up by the TV channels which spread fear among the people.”A 21-yearold student, Hansa Makhijani, who was at the Satyam Cineplex, Patel Nagar on Sunday when the bomb hoax broke out, recalls: “Around 1 pm, people were asked to vacate the auditorium and there was rigorous checking by cops following a phone call, which said there was a bomb inside. We were really scared, wondering what will happen now.”

Side effects: While some don’t care about hoax calls, others take it quite seriously. Says Rahul Singh of Satyam, “The hoax call has affected sales not only at our auditorium in Patel Nagar but also at Janak Place.” Saurab Verma, VP (Marketing), PVR Cinemas, says: “These hoax calls have been happening in Delhi for some time now. To ensure safety, we’ve CCTVs in place and employees are trained in handling emergency situations. Nothing has changed as far as the occupancy level is concerned.” Obviously, cineplexes and security agencies are at their guard.

Rajat Kumar, VP (Marketing), DT Cinemas, says, “It’s not just about technology. One has to ensure apt deployment of resources to avert crisis.” Adds Chaudhary, “After the blasts, we are going in for tenant verification and increased vigil on the cyber cafes and the kind of people using those cafés.” But the big question is how useful will be the safety measures in case of an actual threat? Well, in that case we can only hope that the security systems come in handy in case of real danger.

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