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Mock drill at Phoenix sparks rumours

At 10 pm today, National Security Guards and policemen surrounded the High Street Phoenix Mills in Lower Parel. HT reports

mumbai Updated: Jul 23, 2010 00:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

At 10 pm on Wednesday, National Security Guards (NSG) and policemen surrounded the High Street Phoenix Mills in Lower Parel.

Gun totting commandos in black uniforms stormed into shops, clubs and restaurants. Visitors panicked, and within minutes rumours of a bomb scare and another terror attack spread in the city through text messages and social networking sites.

“We are under attack again, police in action,” said a message from a friend to 21 year old Suchi.

It was just a mock drill by the NSG to gauge their preparedness in case of an attack, which the police told the visitors later. The drill went on till 3 am.

The city, however, was in a tizzy. “I was not at Phoenix, but I got scared as I have friends who work there. Many people messaged me saying there was a bomb scare first and then that a bomb was found,” said Yashraj Akashi (24), a brand management professional.

Traffic outside Phoenix came to a standstill as the NSG and police blocked the road. Commuters stuck on the road too mistook the drill for an attack.

The situation was getting out of hand when the police decided to intervene and send out a message to citizens. Using the traffic police’s SMS service, it assured Mumbaiites that it was a mock drill.

On March 8, the NM Joshi Marg police and fire control officers had held a mock drill at Phoenix Mills among other places.

“It was a smooth operation. Around 15 policemen were stationed outside Phoenix to control visitors and make sure there was no panic,” said Vasant Tajne, senior police inspector, NM Joshi Marg police station.

“We thought there was a bomb scare but then the police explained that it was only a mock drill,” said Jessica Mathew, a US national who was at a nightclub in Phoenix.

First Published: Jul 23, 2010 00:49 IST