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Foreigner takes photos of Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium days before match, sparks terror alert

Stadium officials were reminded of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, which were facilitated by the reconnaissance carried out by LeT mole David Coleman Headley

mumbai Updated: Oct 22, 2017 00:45 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Wankhede stadium,David Coleman Headley,26/11 terror attacks
Sources said snipers will be deployed in the nearby buildings to keep an eye on the crowds in and outside the stadium during the match.(HT File)

The Mumbai police and other security agencies were on high alert after CCTV cameras captured a foreign national taking photographs of Wankhede stadium from multiple angles, ahead of the first one-day match between India and New Zealand, which is slated for Sunday.

Reason: Stadium officials were reminded of the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks, which was facilitated by the reconnaissance carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) mole David Coleman Headley.

Headley aka Dawood Sayyed Gilani adopted a false identity and lived in Mumbai for more than a year-and-a-half.He scouted landmark locations that were to be attacked by Pakistani terrorists. He surveyed these targets, shot hours of videos and made note of their GPS coordinates.

Now, highly-placed sources in the Mumbai police told HT that CCTV cameras filmed a foreign national, who appeared to be a tourist, outside the stadium.

Officials were alerted to his presence during a routine check of the CCTV camera system earlier this week.

It is customary for stadium security officials to run a check on more than 300 cameras installed inside and outside the stadium, including washrooms, a week before scheduled matches.

Security officials analysing the footage said the man took photographs from various angles, including the access points on the western flank.Officials immediately informed the Marine Drive police about their suspicions, said sources.

They also handed over the CCTV camera footage to the police to aid their investigation, said sources. The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and central intelligence agencies were also roped in and a massive hunt was launched to trace the man.

Mumbai police commissioner Dattatreya Padsalgikar confirmed the development, but refused to divulge details, saying “nothing incriminating was found”.

A senior police official told HT that the man, who is from a western European country, was tracked down to a hotel in Colaba and questioned about the purpose of his multiple visits to the stadium. “He said he was fond of photography and was searching for the perfect angle. This is why he clicked photographs at different points,” said the officer.

The police checked his antecedents with the concerned embassy in New Delhi and let him off, the official added. Security arrangements have been scaled up following the incident.

Sources said snipers will be deployed in the nearby buildings to keep an eye on the crowds in and outside the stadium during the match.

First Published: Oct 22, 2017 00:44 IST