CHANDIGARH: An anonymous call to police claiming that a bomb had been planted in a popular mall here sent security agencies into a tizzy on Monday as people were swiftly evacuated and extensive searches carried out in the building, but it turned out to be hoax.
"Chandigarh Police control room received a call on Monday afternoon that a bomb could have been placed in the Elante Mall premises.
A four-hour search was conducted on each of the four floors and every shop inside was checked, but no explosive was found," Deputy Superintendent of Police (East) Dilsher Singh said.
Earlier, panic gripped the people and many started rushing out of the premises, leading to chaos for a while, after mall authorities and the police used loudspeakers to ask them to leave the shopping complex.
After the people were swiftly evacuated, local police units, anti-sabotage check team along with bomb disposal squad carried out searches in the mall, which had been teeming with shoppers on account of Eid holiday.
Police said that efforts were on to trace the caller, who had used voice over internet protocol.
The DSP said Chandigarh Police's Cyber Cell was investigating the case.
A case has been registered under relevant provisions of the law, he said.
"Search operation ended in the evening and the mall was thrown open to public, he said.
Besides the mall, the adjoining buildings too were searched.
Authorities have been on high alert across the country ahead of Independence Day and in view of developments related to Jammu and Kashmir.
"Initially, I thought it was a mock drill by security personnel as Independence Day was near, but soon I realised that something serious had happened.
I along with my family members, who had come to watch a movie, rushed out in panic," said Ajay Kumar, a local resident.
Senior police officials reached the site and appealed to people to stay calm.
Elante Mall has more than 220 shops with a mix of domestic and international brands, besides restaurants.
It also has an entertainment zone with a multiplex and a food court.