Around two kilometers ahead of Uran, in the middle of Uran-Mora road stands the Bhavra lake. On Friday, a woman spotted a black cloth fluttering up in the lush green hill that stands on the backdrop of the lake. Traffic on the road stopped, journalists turned around and everyone started pointing fingers at the “terrorist”. A police officer who was posted on duty to manage traffic nearby was informed. “People are seeing pieces of black cloth fluttering in the wind since yesterday and we are running everywhere, only to find nothing,” he said, before passing on this information to seniors. Usha Raul (86), a resident of Mori, said, “I have lived in Mori for 55 years now, but apart from petty thieves and smugglers, I never heard stories of terrorists before. It is really scary, especially at my age.” The anxiety of the residents of Uran and surrounding villages was visible everywhere on Friday. Ever since a high alert was declared after the reported sighting of four to five ‘terrorists’ in black Pathani kurtas, with covered faces and backpacks, the people are becoming increasingly worried, hoping that this is either a hoax or a false alarm. A total of 69 villages in the Uran taluka were subjected to a thorough search by the security forces since Thursday. The forces conducted searches at Mora, Nhava Sheva, Uran, Danda and other areas. “We had two closed factories in our village where now a dilapidated structure stands. I was taken by the police team to search these premises,” said Sudhakar Raut of Kharkhand village. Rajendra Raut, deputy sarpanch of Kegaon group grampanchayat said that the police searched all abandoned properties in and around his village in search of any trace of the alleged terrorists.
“As far as the Indian Navy is concerned, operations based on yesterday’s sightings of suspected terrorists are over. . The Navy is maintaining a close liaison with the local police and other agencies for further updates and developments,” a Defence spokesperson said, adding, “Insofar as the state of alertness is concerned, the Indian Navy maintains a high state of alert and a tight vigil at all times in consonance with the prevailing circumstances.” A high-level meeting between Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner and officials from other security forces was held earlier on Friday. The two students were questioned again jointly by Navi Mumbai Commissioner of Police Hemant Nagrale, Joint Commissioner of Police Madhukar Pandey and NSG IG Major General Dushyant Singh. Mr Pandey told , “There are some differences in the statements of the two students and they are being looked into.” “A skeletal team of NSG commandos were called in to assist in the operations as an emergency, otherwise the operations are being carried out by the Navi Mumbai police,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Dilip Sawant added. Rumours circulated in Mumbai in light of the alert in the city, including one about ‘suspicious activity’ in a building in Sewri.