Mumbai, Aug 20: For the second time in two days, Maharashtra security forces went into a tizzy after a dark threat to carry out a ’26/11-style’ terror strike was received via social media messages monitored by the Mumbai Traffic Police Control late on Friday night, officials said here on Saturday.
Taking serious note, the Mumbai Police immediately got cracking, formed three teams of Crime Branch to investigate while other state and central agencies are also being involved in the operations, said city Commissioner of Police Vivek Phansalkar.
The threats, warning of ‘explosions’ in the country’s commercial capital, exceeding the effect of 26/11 (2008), were received in a WhatsApp chat at the Mumbai Traffic Police Control Room around 11 p.m. on Friday, sending the city’s security apparatus into a state of high-alert early on Saturday morning.
“Mumbaikars should not panic. We are probing the issue from all angles and the Crime Branch is investigating it. Nothing will happen, we shall keep the city safe,” Phansalkar told the media.
He confirmed that one of the numbers in the WhatsApp chat messages seems to be from Pakistan while there are six other Indian numbers in the communication which are being tracked by the probe teams.
“We are examining it from all possible angles and the Anti-Terrorism Squad will also be roped in. We are on high alert. People of Mumbai need not worry,” Phansalkar assured.
The messages in Hindi claimed that the next strike would “revive the memories of the 26/11 (2008) terror attacks” in the city – which were carried out by 10 heavily armed Pakistani extremists.
‘Mubarak Ho… (Congratulations). There is going to be an attack on Mumbai. It will remind you of the 26/11 attacks. Everything is in place, only the timing is left to be decided… and it can be done anytime,” reads the chilling message – just 95 days before the Mumbai mayhem’s oncoming 14th anniversary.
The unknown sender added: “If the police try to trace my number, the location will show out of India. Six people will be executing this blast, and preparations are on to blow up Mumbai. This is not just a threat, it will be a reality.”
For further effect, the message said: “I am in Pakistan. Some Indians are with me who also want to blast Mumbai.. What if Osama Bin Laden, Ajmal Kasab or Ayman Al-Zawahiri was killed, there are many more..”
The message also has sentences like: “UP ATS wants to carry out the blasts”, “Udaipur-style beheading can also take place”, “This attack will be better than 26/11”, “We people have no fixed address”, “It can also be Punjab’s Sidhu Moosewala.”
Among the first to react, Nationalist Congress Party’s Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar said the state government must take the threat seriously and probe.
Ranked among the worst terror hits in the world, the 26/11, 2008 assault left 166 dead, over 300 injured when 10 desperadoes gunned down people at multiple locations and ended after a 60-hour mini-war with the capture of Ajmal Kasab, who was later tried and executed.
The latest threats came barely two days after the state experienced a major security hiccup when a yacht with three AK-47 guns and ammunition drifted to the Raigad coast and was stuck at Harihareshwar Beach.
Though a potential terror threat was tentatively ruled out in that incident, a detailed investigation is being carried out by the ATS and Raigad Police, amid possibility of the yacht’s owners, managers or security providers being summoned to join the probe here.