Police detonate blast in city, create panic

A bomb squad personnel gets ready to detonate the tiffin box near the Deputy Commissioner’s office in city on Friday. (ST)

SHILLONG: Police have come under criticism for carrying out a blast in the middle of the city, near the officer of the East Khasi  Hillls  Deputy Commissioner  on Friday , creating panic among the people  instead of removing the suspected container (a  tiffin  box with edibles) to the outskirts to carry out the blast even though  police  justified their actions.
Police detected an unclaimed bag found in front of  the  Deputy Commissioner’s office after they received information in this regard at around 12. 30 pm.
Later, a tiffin box with edibles was found inside the bag.
When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner P S Dkhar said that if it was a mock drill, he would have known about it, but he was not aware about the action taken by the police about the unclaimed object. “You can ask the police for details”, he said.
However, in a statement issued to the media, the East Khasi Hills district police chief  M Kharkrang  said that after receiving information about the unclaimed bag, the place was cordoned off, traffic diverted, and fire service was put on stand-by. Bomb squad from police head quarters was also summoned.
” On scrutiny by experts from bomb squad they found that the bag contained a tiffin and as per the drill such containers should not be touched as it may trigger an explosion, if any explosive is inside”, Kharkrang said.
According to the SP, the explosive maybe triggered if it was a bomb/IED. “Hence they decided to neutralize the same by using a small amount of cordex for which a blast was necessitated”, the SP said. The same was done by the experts after all safety measures have been taken, he said.
“After the blast the container was found to contain nothing except eating items”, he added.
In this connection, the district police has urged the public that in such instances a specific drill has to be followed which may be inconvenient them for which they were requested to cooperate for their safety.
He also asked the public not to remain by standers  when police are on the job as splinters may  hit them during the process of blast.
The SP also asked the public to take care of their personal belongings as neglect of leaving baggage can create unnecessary panic and their personal belongings may also be destroyed in the process of neutralization.
However, an official familiar with bomb disposal methods said that robotic arms should have been used to pick up the suspected object or it should have been taken in bomb disposal containers which subsequently should have been transported to an isolated place instead of carrying out the blast on the spot. Moreover, X-ray imaging would have been also done to find out the nature of object inside the tiffin box.
Another point raised is that the Centre had provided sophisticated security related equipment including bomb disposal instruments at the cost of over Rs 7 crore during the  South Asian Games  which was meant to be used professionally  to clear the suspected object or bomb by wearing adequate bomb suits and not to detonate  blasts in public places.