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Refresher Training of CERT by FOCUS

Sunday, May 13, 2012

26/11: This time, a mock drill

Those awaiting long-distance trains at CST early on Sunday froze as a group of young men dressed like terrorist Ajmal Qasab stormed in around 2 am; until the Railways announced that it not a terror attack

    It was a déjà vu for many people at Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Passengers waiting at the terminus to catch outstation trains early on Sunday thought, for a few moments, that it was another 26/11 kind of attack as they watched around 10 to 12 young men – dressed in clothes similar to the ones that terrorist Ajmal Qasab had worn that day in 2008 – and carrying assault rifles, 'stormed' into the station around 2 am. 
    Minutes later, another group – this one wearing battle fatigues of the state's newly formed elite counter-terror outfit, Force One, took up strategic positions. 
    It took an announcement on the railway public address system, that every bit of action at the station was part of a mock drill, to calm the passengers who, by then, had begun to panic, mistaking the action to be a real terror attack. 
    According to officials, it was not a very coordinated effort. The plan to carry out a mock drill in the suburban section of the stations – the first seven platforms – fell flat when the Force One teams were confronted with the sight of scores of photojournalists running around to take vantage positions to click from. 
    The mock drill had to be confined to the Main Line section – on platform No 10 – though officials later said that it would have been far better if mock drills could have been carried out on both suburban and Main Line sections of the sprawling terminus. 
    Senior railway officials, who were unaware of the mock drill, rushed within almost half an hour into the drill to ensure that panic on part of the passengers did not escalate into something drastic. 
    Several constables of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and officials took up the job of controlling the crowd of commuters. This, even as a few officials of the RPF and the Force One monitored the mock drill on the closed-circuit television system that covers the 18 platforms at CST. 
    The drill lasted for almost a couple of hours, from around 2 am to 4 am. 
    Force One officials refused to comment on the drill, saying it was a routine one to ensure that newer methods of counter-terror could de devised in real time.

Above: Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Qasab at CST on November 26, 2008 Left: One of the mock attackers at CST on Sunday

One of the mock terrorists scouts for possible 'targets'

A man hurriedly drags his son away from the 'terror' scene. It was at this spot that scores fell to terrorists' bullets over three years ago

A commuter at CST informs securitymen at the station about the presence of 'terrorists'

A Railway official, who by now has learnt that it is a mock drill, downs his office shutter

A staffer announces that it's a mock drill. On Nov 26, 2008, the presence of mind of a railway announcer helped save many lives

Horrified commuters look on as a gunman points to people around

Senior railway officials rushed to CST to ensure the mock drill does not result in any tragedy


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