Bomb hoax at Elante triggers panic

CHANDIGARH: A call that a bomb has been planted at Elante Mall in the Industrial Area sent UT cops into a tizzy this afternoon. The police swung into action and got the mall evacuated, leading to panic among thousands of visitors who had thronged the mall as it was a holiday today on account of Eid. It was after a search of over four hours and a half that cops realised it to be a hoax.

editorial@tribune.com

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12

A call that a bomb has been planted at Elante Mall in the Industrial Area sent UT cops into a tizzy this afternoon. 

The police swung into action and got the mall evacuated, leading to panic among thousands of visitors who had thronged the mall as it was a holiday today on account of Eid. It was after a search of over four hours and a half that cops realised it to be a hoax.

The police control room (PCR) received an internet voice call around 1:06 pm. The caller, who refused to identify himself, stated that a bomb had been placed at Elante Mall. An alert was sounded and several police teams were rushed to the spot. The mall authorities were also informed about the call and asked to get the shopping place evacuated. 

Thousands of people, who didn’t have any clue about what had happened, started rushing out of the mall. 

After visitors were asked to leave the mall, police teams, including units from the operation cell and bomb disposal squad, cordoned off the area and conducted a search operation. 

Anti-sabotage, operation cell, crime branch and local police teams also conducted intensive searches of the area around the mall. The mall’s security team joined the search operation.

The building adjoining the mall that houses various offices was also evacuated as a precautionary measure. 

The visitors whose vehicles were parked at the mall’s parking kept waiting outside for around three hours as the police didn’t allow anyone to enter the place.

The bomb disposal squad carried out search at all outlets, restaurants, clubs and the movie halls before concluding that it was a hoax call. The search started around 1.15 am and continued till around 5.40 pm. 

Confirming that there was no bomb at the mall, SSP Nilambari Jagdale said the caller who gave false information to the PCR had been booked. “The police are close to identifying the person who made the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) call to give false information,” she added.

Besides SSP Nilambari Jagdale, SP (Crime) Vineet Kumar, five DSPs, ten inspectors and other police and CRPF personnel reached the mall to ensure no untoward incident took place. Civil Defence team and medical teams were also present.


Save everyone if you can, said the Caller

  • Sources said the caller made two calls to the PCR. He didn’t speak during the first call. In the next call, which was recorded, he claimed that “a bomb has been planted at Elante Mall, save everyone if you can”.
  • The UT police have traced a few people to whom the unknown caller had made calls. The information was shared with the Delhi Police so that those persons are verified and the caller’s identity is established. 
  • A case under Sections 182 (false information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person), 268 (public nuisance), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication) of the IPC has been registered at Industrial Area police station on the complaint of Inspector Jasbir Singh, SHO of the police station.

Traffic jams in & around Ind’l Area 

  • Soon after people were evacuated from Elante Mall, the visitors who had parked their vehicles outside started leaving. Unaware of bomb threat, there were others who were heading to the mall. This led to chaos on the roads near the mall. Traffic on the road between the Transport light point and Tribune Chowk was also affected. 
  • Earlier, a few bus conductors were seen regulating traffic near the CTU office and the Sector 28 light point. Later, traffic cops reached there. The road towards the Industrial Area from the Centra Mall side was closed for traffic till the mall was reopened for visitors.

Everyone safe: Mall

  • There was a report of an unclaimed object, which turned out to be a bomb hoax, at our mall. It was a hoax call in view of the heightened security alert across the country. All people, including the shoppers and staff members, are absolutely safe. The entire mall was evacuated in less than 20 minutes. The mall operations were restored after four hours.

Visitors rush outside

  • Mallvika Singh, who had arrived at the mall with her friends, was left scared after the bomb hoax. “We were supposed to watch a movie. However, when we came to know that there was a bomb at the mall, we decided to leave without any delay,” she said.
  • Bhupinder Bhandari, a resident of Sector 30 who had come to the mall along with his family, said everyone panicked and rushed outside the mall. “My car was parked in the mall’s parking. However, for several hours we could not o inside,” he said.

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