In Mumbai, a Security Drill to Prevent Attacks on Mass Transit

Drill during Monday rush hour tested Mumbai's ability to deal with terror threats


Police with sniffer dogs searched hundreds of thousands of Mumbai train commuters on their way back home from work during rush hour Monday as part of a security drill to monitor the city's ability to deal with terror threats.

Mumbai's train network was targeted on July 11 when seven bombs exploded on crowded commuter trains killing more than 200 people.

Thirteen men have since been arrested for involvement in the bombings. Police suspect the bombs were planted in overhead luggage racks inside the coaches.

The mammoth security drill covered downtown Mumbai's Churchgate rail station, one of the city's busiest.

"It will help us test if train commuters and baggage can be checked during the rush hour," said Pranai Prabhakar, spokesman for the Western Railway. "We are using door-frame metal detectors and hand-held detectors for the drill to check our level of preparedness."

Commuters waiting to be screened stood in long queues that snaked outside the Churchgate Railway building located in downtown Mumbai's business hub.

"This is a nightmare. If this becomes a daily affair it will be senseless to travel by train," said Gauri Sethi, an insurance officer who faces a two-hour rail commute everyday.

More than 6 million ride the crowded rail network daily into the city. The security drill is part of several safety measures to gauge the ability of officials to mobilize resources and prevent another terrorist attack.

Within a week after the July 11 bombings, authorities randomly frisked commuters and installed closed-circuit television cameras at more than half a dozen busy train stations.

The drill at Churchgate began over the weekend as police and railway officials warmed up to tackle Monday's evening rush hour.

Security was also tightened at airports across India on Sunday after officials received a threat against planes flying to the U.S. and Europe.

Last week airports in southern India were put on alert after the airport director in the city of Trichy received a letter warning of imminent attacks at airports or on planes.


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