Security will be beefed up near the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, which bore the brunt of the 26/11 terror strikes, and the area will be closed to vehicular traffic from Thursday, police said ahead of the festive season. “All roads that touch the Taj Mahal hotel shall be closed for vehicular traffic from Thursday. Vehicles belonging to residents of the area will be provided with stickers just like the ones we had issued during US President Barack Obama’s visit,” Additional Commissioner of Police Nawal Bajaj told reporters in Mumbai. “Vehicles belonging to the hotel will be screened thoroughly,” he said.
Bajaj said these restrictions would be in place for the next 15 days and reviewed thereafter. Five jetties with police personnel will be posted near the Gateway of India to monitor and screen vessels coming in from Mandwa and Alibaug. The entire Colaba region of south Mumbai, where the five star hotel and several popular pubs are located, will be put under CCTV surveillance from Dec 29.
“This surveillance shall not only be extended to the Gateway (of India) and Taj area but also on Colaba Causeway and the various lanes of Colaba where pubs or restaurants are located as people gather here in large numbers to celebrate the New Year,” said Bajaj. “We are planning to install around 15-20 such high resolution cameras to track public movement so that any suspicious activity can be detected and prompt action taken,” he added.
Another police official said that nearly 1,000 police recruits in plainclothes will mingle with crowds in the area to check incidents of molestation and harassment of women. Five watch-towers will also be installed near the Gateway of India to monitor crowds during the New Year celebrations. Bomb technicians and Quick Response Team personnel will also be deployed to secure the area, the official said.
The Taj hotel was under siege for 60 hours as security forces battled Pakistani terrorists during the Nov 26-29, 2008 terror strikes.