CHENNAI: Security establishment in the city was kept on tenterhooks following an ‘alert’ from a suspected juvenile that bombs planted in two malls would explode shortly.
The Bomb Detection and Defusal Squads were pressed to sweep both Spencer Plaza on Anna Salai and Ampa Skywalk on Nelson Manickam Road for any explosives. Meanwhile, a special team from the Control Room was despatched to trace the caller, who had said that he overheard a duo in Kodambakkam talking about the bombs in the malls.
When the mobile number was traced to a young woman in Komaleeswaranpettai near Pudupet, she informed police that her mobile phone was stolen around 7.30 am and a complaint was lodged at Egmore Police Station. The team verified the details and found it to be true. She reportedly told the cops that it must have been stolen by a juvenile from her locality.
Then, it was found that the juvenile had been talking to the male contacts saved on that phone and was casting aspersions on that woman. Efforts were on to trace the suspect. The BDDS teams concluded the call to be a false alarm after a thorough sweep of both malls. However, the bomb scare had robbed the malls’ business, worth several lakhs.
Employees at Skywalk said it was around 11.30 am, just when business was picking up that a police team landed and asked them to vacate the shops. Employees and shop owners came to know about the bomb scare only after talking to people outside.
Raaj, floor in-charge of PVR Cinemas, said no films were screened till 3.30 pm when the police gave the go-ahead. Tickets for nearly all the shows were available as there was hardly any crowd at the cinemas.
Rather than panicking, most employees dismissed it as a rumour. “We thought it was rumour or just a drill to check the alertness of police. We did not take it seriously,” said K Hemanathan, manager of Samsung showroom in the mall.
The worst hit was the food court as well as the Games corner. While officials at food court refused to divulge information, it was learnt that the chain of restaurants suffered a total loss of about Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000. Similarly, the Games N More, a games corner for kids, which used to rake in Rs 1 lakh on week-ends between 11.30 to 3.30 pm, had hardly any business. Even outlets like KFC and McDonalds were hit. “We must have lost around Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000,” said an employee.