Youth carrying backpacks, lunch boxes under scanner; malls, theatres under constant vigil

Youngsters carrying backpacks or lunch boxes are on the crosshairs of the police who continued searches at all public places in the State capital for the fourth consecutive day on Saturday.

On inputs that an unidentified terror operative was moving in the city carrying ammonium nitrate based explosive substances, hunt was intensified across the city and surrounding localities. Except women, children and senior citizens, every person carrying backpacks, boxes, suitcases, or airbags was subjected to frisking.

Increasing alert levels

The suicide bomber, who blew himself inside Hyderabad Police Commissioner's Task Force at Greenlands in 2005, walked in with a backpack, the police recall focussing on youths carrying backpacks. “Let them off only after making sure what is inside the bags or boxes they are carrying”, the higher-ups directed the policemen.

Aimed at increasing alert levels among people and preventing a possible terror strike, the police top brass decided not to leave anything to chance. “We're not sure to which outfit the operative belonged but have information that he is trying to target a public or private place causing human and property loss,” an officer said.

Two-pronged strategy

Adopting a two-pronged strategy of increasing terror alert levels among the public and hunt for terror suspects, Hyderabad police teams started tenant verifications on Saturday. Teams of local police are knocking on the doors of houses in areas where terror suspects could be hiding in disguise.

In another move, Commissioner's Task Force teams are mixing with the crowds at public places keeping tab on suspects. “The armed teams would be away while our men in plainclothes will round up the suspect and frisk the suspect at the spot,” an officer said.

Lax security

Having found serious security lapses at many private places on Friday during inspections, the Task Force teams focussed on cinema theatres and malls by sending decoys carrying firearms and dummy bombs on Saturday. To their dismay, similar lacunae were found again.

A decision was taken not to disclose names of the places since they might become vulnerable for attack and the visitors too get panicked, the TF DCP, V.B. Kamalasan Reddy, said.

He, however, felt there was perceivable change in security consciousness among the managements and people due to the incessant searches.

In case of railway and bus stations, local Inspectors were directed to carry out day-long intensive checking and frisking.

Meanwhile, DGP, R.R. Girish Kumar, along with other top officials, discussed security-related issues with the Union Minister for Home, P. Chidambaram, when the latter halted for an hour at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad, on his way from Coimabatore to New Delhi.

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