Islamabad: Bomb scare grips Supreme Court
ISLAMABAD: A poorly written bomb threat found lying in the grounds of the Supreme Court on Thursday sent security agencies into combing the entire area, only to dismiss the threat at the end as a hoax.
Still, not prepared to take any chances, the security apparatus is keeping the Red Zone area under surveillance. A senior police officer said a TV channel’s cameraman spotted the two-page, hand written note in Urdu in the parking lot of the Supreme Court which separates it from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.
As the channel broke the news, the media corps went into a frenzy because the note said the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and President Asif Ali Zardari, who resides next door to the court, would be bombed “on 26th or 27th August”. It was signed by two persons – Samundar Khan and Usman Khan – who claimed a bomb had already been planted with police support, bought for Rs2.5 million.
That brought scores of security personnel to the Supreme Court grounds, with bomb disposal squad, sniffer dogs and the Quick Response Unit snooping around all over the place for almost two hours.
But the search turned up nothing sinister and the site was declared safe. Throughout the flurry of activities, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry remained inside the Supreme Court with some brother judges.
Court officials refrained from commenting on the scary drama. But some circles noted that it was played on the day before the court starts its suo motu hearing of the blood-drenched situation in Karachi.
Major Tabassum Zaheer, who supervised the search operation and later declared the area safe, was however not certain whether the incident was just a prank played to create panic or something that should be taken very seriously.
“We will analyse the note and the writing first,” he said. Police also wanted the original threat note for the same purpose but said the television channel won’t part with it.
Meanwhile, the Secretariat police station has registered a case under PPC 506 against unidentified persons. Fear of a lingering threat made authorities strengthen security around the Supreme Court by sealing all openings meant for pedestrians by barbed wire and concrete barricades. Vehicular traffic too was made to manoeuvre more tightly by erecting extra barricades.
“This hoax makes our already miserable life more miserable,” muttered a police officer on security duty at the Supreme Court.
A general alert has been declared in Islamabad, said a senior police officer disclosing that the threat was being taken seriously in view of the coming sensitive events of Al-Quds Day, Jumatul Wida and Eid celebrations.
Security at the entry points, sensitive installations and places of worship has been beefed up and patrolling increased in the city, the officer said.
Orders have also gone out to comb hotels, inns, motels, bus terminals, slum and rural areas for suspicious characters.
Authors of the bomb threat claimed to be ‘mujahedin’ and had paid a reconnaissance visit to the court premises in a car whose registration number began with alphabets BLC.
They also announced their next target would be Lahore and ended their note by thanking the police for their assistance.
At the end of the high drama, Major Tabassum Zaheer told media that his team had cleared the area after searching all the probable hiding places where the bomb could be planted by terrorists.
The physical search was carried out at the parking area, the green area between the Supreme Court and the Presidency, inside the building that include toilets and flower pots, garbage cans etc. Though quite confident that the area was clear now, he left behind one of his team members on a vigil at a nearby position.