Combing operations end, but mystery over Raigad sightings continues

Raigad (Maharashtra), Sep 23 (IANS) The Indian Navy ended its security operations on the sightings of suspected elements on Friday, but the Maharashtra police and other agencies continue their vigil in the region.

Mystery continues over the sightings on Thursday of around five-six suspected terrorists, who were described by local school students as masked, wearing Pathani suits and carrying weapons, sending the entire security apparatus in a tizzy.

“Sanitisation of the naval areas has been undertaken. Indian Navy is maintaining close liaison with local police, other agencies for further updates, developments,” a Defence Spokesperson said here this evening.

About the state of alertness, he said the Indian Navy maintains “a high state of alert/tight vigil at all times in consonance with the prevailing circumstances.”

Since Thursday, multiple security agencies continued their hawk-eyed vigil on Friday to apprehend the unknown persons sighted in Uran town, and police later released sketches of two suspects.

Official sources in the state government said that the combing operations by the local authorities are in the final stages and nothing worthwhile has been found so far.

However, the police will continue to remain in a state of alertness in Uran town, which has a population of around 31,000, and the Uran sub-district has around 140,000 people spread in 53 villages and four small towns, on the mainland around 50 km from Mumbai.

Security at all critical installations and sensitive locations in Mumbai and adjoining Raigad, Navi Mumbai, has been beefed up with police road blocks and vehicle searches, fishermen were on the lookout in Arabian Sea and aerial-surface combing operations were taken up in different parts.

At least two to four schoolchildren had reported spotting some unidentified persons – ranging from one to five – wearing masks, Pathani suits and carrying weapons around 7 a.m. on Thursday.

They informed their teacher, who in turn alerted the police and the entire security apparatus swung into action within hours.

Schools, colleges, shops and establishments in Uran and surroundings remained shut for two days as security officials searched the area.

Returning from a trip to the US late on Thursday night, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis appealed to the people not to panic as adequate security arrangements were in place in Uran.

Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale said that police and other security agencies have launched operations to trace the suspects.

“Till now, the version of two witnesses (students) could not be confirmed, efforts are on,” Nagrale said.

Meanwhile, huge deployment of police was witnessed in parts of south Mumbai, road blocks and checking of select vehicles continued overnight in an efforts to detect the missing suspects.

Security has been intensified at Raj Bhavan, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, the BARC, DAE, Mantralaya and surrounding VVIP areas, key railway terminus and stations, prominent beaches like Girgaum Chowpatty and Juhu, various oil and fertilizer companies’ installations on the eastern coast of Mumbai, the naval harbour, JNPT and MbPT, etc.

The two-day operations were described by security personnel as the highest ever state of alert after the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror strikes.

–IANS

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