Mumbai on high alert after school children claim to spot armed men in Uran

High alert was issued along the Mumbai coast and adjoining areas after a group of armed men were allegedly spotted by a few school children in Uran on Thursday leading to a massive search operation launched by multiple agencies.

Few children from Uran Education Society's school have reportedly first spotted the suspects, and their teacher informed the police. However, according to IANS, Maharashtra Director-General of Police Satish Mathur said, "One student has claimed spotting one person, the other has claimed to have seen five. After this information, multiple agencies launched the probe."

"Search operation is still on. Navi Mumbai police and coastal police along with the Navy are involved in a search operation which will be carried out throughout night. We have stationed one NSG platoon and 70 commandos of Force One (a state government force) in Navi Mumbai," Mathur told PTI.

The Western Naval Command (WNC) later issued a "highest state of alert" along the Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Raigad coasts where several sensitive establishments and assets are located. Indian Navy's Chief PRO Captain DK Sharma said the search operation was launched along with Maharashtra Police and other agencies.

Mumbai police check passengers at a checkpost after a high alert was issued. PTI

Mumbai police check passengers at a checkpost after a high alert was issued. PTI

The National Security Guard (NSG), state police's specialised commandos Force One and ATS, apart form the Mumbai police and Coast Guard have been roped in for the search operation. The Mumbai Police, however, said that none of the suspects have been been traced yet.

The NSG teams, drawn from its Mumbai hub, have been deployed at three locations in Mumbai and another team is on alert at NSG base in IGI airport in Delhi, official sources said, reported PTI.

As the news spread, conflicting reports emerged on whether the suspects were sighted in Pathan suits or in army fatigues. According to some reports, the children also said that they overheard the men conversing in an unfamiliar language, but could make out words like 'ONGC' and 'school,' which were reportedly being used repeatedly, according to ANI.  

The Defence PRO later said that though the situation is being monitored, no person has been located or apprehended.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted later in the evening that his government is taking all precautions and the state and central forces are keeping a close vigil. He also appealed to people to remain calm.

According to Times Now, Maharashtra Additional Home Secretary KP Bakshi has briefed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs about the situation in Uran. He told the news channel that the probe is being supervised by the DGP, Navi Mumbai and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is keeping a close eye on the developments.

Advising the people to maintain calm, Bakshi claimed that the forces deployed on the ground are fully equipped to handle all terror threats. He has also asked the deputy general of police of Maharashtra to file a report on the terror alert by Friday.

The Navy pressed its choppers for aerial surveillance and heightened patrolling in the sea by its vessels and high-speed boats.

Security was also beefed up in parts of Mumbai and Raigad district following the terror alert. According to All India Radio, Mumbai police check-posts are scanning all vehicles around Girgaum Chowpati area while CNN-News18 reported that heavy security has been deployed in Uran.

Moreover, Colaba police station has sent out an alert to fishermen asking them to report any suspicious persons, or movement of unfamiliar boats around the Mumbai coast, according to a Firstpost correspondent.

Maharashtra Minister of State for Home (Rural) Deepak Kesarkar said that the government has taken the incident very seriously and urged people to remain calm. "There is no reason to doubt the information provided by the students. But it needs to be cross-checked. We already have the experience of (tackling) terror attacks in Mumbai," Kesarkar told PTI.

Meanwhile, Gujarat was also put on alert and security agencies have been asked to keep a close vigil on the coastline, officials said. Additional DGP, Law and Order, Tirth Raj, said the Superintendents of Police (SPs) of coastal districts of Gujarat, along with officials handling the coastal security, have been asked to keep a tab on the activities.

"After a high alert sounded along the Mumbai coast today, we have also issued an alert along the Gujarat coast. All the district SPs of coastal areas have been asked to remain alert and step up security along the coast through continuous patrolling," he said.

Coastal security has been a top priority after the 26/11 attacks, in which multiple locations in Mumbai were targeted by Pakistani terrorists who landed using the sea route. The fishing town of Uran is located across the eastern water front of the financial capital. The base located close to the town also houses units of MARCOS, the Navy's elite strike force.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 22, 2016 22:32 PM

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