Bengaluru: It's been a tense weekend for Bengalureans as the city resembled a warzone with several prime locations clamped with tight security by the police and paramilitary forces. But what spread the panic was the leaked classified information by policemen themselves through WhatsApp that a high alert had been sounded across the city, suspecting a terror attack, police sources said.
Sour with the snowball effect the message had, City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao gave an earful to his top officers for spreading panic among Bengalureans, sources said. But the information from the central intelligence agencies about the alleged infiltration of terrorists into the state through Kerala was indeed ominous. The police took up positions across the city on Friday evening, only confirming the news that Bengalureans already knew.
The impact was almost immediate and malls, shopping hubs, pubs and bars, which teem with people during weekends, saw a reduced footfall and many shopping centres did not see 50,000 visits, which is the norm for a Saturday.
Central intelligence agencies sounded the alert on Friday evening, as sabotage was feared after the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech pushing for a strong policy to counter terror.
On Saturday, security was further beefed up across Bengaluru with additional paramilitary forces and armed men in uniform being deployed at the city's Metro stations, who stood behind sandbag embankments holding automatic weapons. Security forces were also out in big numbers at key locations, like Majestic, K.R. Market, Vidhana Soudha, Sangolli Rayanna Railway Station, temples and various public venues. The malls, where there is a rush during weekends too saw policemen being deployed. Any person or vehicle moving around in a suspicious manner was stopped and searched. At Metro stations, some people were asked to open their wallets and show mobile phones too.
Additional forces from KSRP, CAR, bomb disposal squad, dog squad and paramilitary forces have been deployed at various parts of the city as part of the alert. The security men carried handheld metal detectors at all these places to frisk people. Once the WhatsApp message did the rounds, the police control room was flooded with calls from people reporting suspicious activity from across the city. On Friday night, the police received a call from HSR Layout that a bag had been abandoned in a residential locality. A police team rushed to the spot, checked the bag and declared the area safe.
Don’t panic: Top cop
City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao appealed to the people not to panic, saying the police were well equipped to prevent any untoward incident. He urged people not pay heed to any rumours or crank messages and to verify information before reacting to them.
“Though there is high alert, the exercise is also to understand how efficiently the various wings of the police departments need to function in such times. We are discussing how KSRP, CAR and various wings of the department need to coordinate. Otherwise, there is no threat to the regular life in Bengaluru and people can have peaceful weekend," he said.