Panic gripped students, parents, and the staff and management of as many as 48 schools in and around Bengaluru on Friday after they received email threats warning of “explosive devices on the school grounds”.
The school authorities alerted the police before sending out alerts to parents about the emergency situation, requesting them to take back their children. The police, along with the bomb disposal squad, rushed to the schools and conducted search.
“Certain schools in Bengaluru city received emails in the morning indicating ‘bomb threat’. Anti-sabotage and bomb detection squads have been pressed into service to verify and ascertain. The calls seem to be a hoax. Even then all efforts will be made to trace the culprits,” Bengaluru Police Commissioner B. Dayananda said in the morning. A special cybercrime team was also pressed in to track down the culprits using records of the masked IP address.
Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly R. Ashok visited the schools and pacified the parents, assuring them of action.
“The school authorities informed us on the WhatsApp group about receiving an email about a device (bomb) in the school building. They also asked parents to not panic and that they would take care of the situation systematically. They also informed us that buses will leave the campus around 12 noon. I was anxious. However, within a few minutes the authorities said that it was a hoax and that school activities would go on as per normal schedule,” said a parent whose child’s school was among those in Banashankari that received the bomb threat.
Another parent from Vyalikaval said, “We got information from the school authorities about a bomb threat around 11 a.m. We were scared about the safety of our children and immediately rushed to the school. When we reached the school, the police were conducting the search. Later, it was confirmed that the threat was a hoax. In recent years, many schools in the city have been getting such hoax threats and creating unnecessary tension among students and parents. The government should take stern action against the guilty.”
Many schools which did not receive any threat mails also sent children back home due to pressure from anxious parents.
Threat email generated from Cyprus
Meanwhile, in swift action, the city police managed to track down the source of the threat emails to schools. Terming the act as cyber terrorism, the city police cybercrime division tracked down the source of the mail to Cyprus from where the mail was sent. The accused had used a private domain to send the mail. The police are trying to get the details of the accused. The accused had also sent similar emails to Germany in May this year, the Caribbean islands in October, and Malaysia in November before targeting the city on Friday, sources said.
The city police are communicating with their counterparts in other countries seeking coordination for further investigations. Similar threat mail was sent to some schools in the city in 2022 and the police felt that going by the modus operandi, it could be the same person. The accused in the case is yet to be arrested.
‘Strengthen security in city’
In light of the security threat to schools, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has instructed the Police Department to tighten security in Bengaluru. He also requested the parents to not worry. “After speaking to the police, I have instructed them to provide security everywhere in the city and be alert to track down the culprits,” he said.
Home Minister G. Parameshwara held a meeting with senior police officials, including Director-General and Inspector-General of Police Alok Mohan, Police Commissioner B. Dayananda, and Additional Commissioner of Police Satish Kumar to get an update on the case. Mr. Parameshwara asked the police to take steps to prevent such incidents in future. The police are contemplating stepping up security measures at schools and colleges.