Cops lose briefcase in mock drill

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 06 Desember 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The intention might have been good but the execution was pathetic, turning a police mock drill into a mockery.

A briefcase worth around Rs 1,000, which our cops planted in front of a scrap dealer's shop in Cheeta Camp to test the public's response, was stolen right under their noses.

In a standard drill, the police fill a bag or briefcase with clothes and dump it by the roadside, near a shop, a bus-stand or a railway station to gauge the alertness of citizens. In this case, the police purchased a briefcase, stuffed it with old clothes and kept it outside a shop in Trombay. The briefcase had 'Explosive' written on it.

The scrap dealer's assistant initially confessed to having given it to his employer. However, he soon changed his tune and said that one of the thousands of people who passed by the shop could have picked it up.

The police team eventually had to return empty-handed and with egg on its face.

"Our teams were monitoring the activities of locals. Surprisingly, nobody came forward to inform the police. Instead, the shop assistant noticed the bag and took it inside. When our team quizzed him later, he denied having seen it. We searched the premises but could not find it. We suspect the shop-owner surreptitiously transferred it to another place using the back door."

A police officer told TOI that educating people about unclaimed objects, which could even be explosives or bombs, was difficult. "We want people to be more forthcoming and they must alert the police if they spot unclaimed items," he said. Another officer added, "The situation has changed post-26/11. We are now more sophisticated and sensitive about alerts and conducting anti-terror operations. We have been carrying out mock drills regularly with the help of National Security Guard ( NSG) and Force Once commandos at malls, cinema halls, crowded places, schools and even in residential colonies. We want to sensitize people about the gravity of such situations," said a police officer.

In the last one year, the city police have conducted more than 200 mock drills. "We are getting a good response from the public but the Cheeta Camp case shows that we must renew our efforts to educate people," the officer said.

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