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Delhi Schools Evacuated After Hoax Bomb Threat

In an unprecedented event of alarm, more than 150 schools across Delhi-NCR received a uniform threatening email on Wednesday, alleging the presence of explosives on their premises. This led to widespread evacuations and searches as anxious parents hurried to retrieve their children. Authorities conducted searches but found nothing objectionable, ultimately declaring it a hoax. Officials suspect a broader conspiracy by a terrorist group, potentially linked to ISIS, particularly concerning the Lok Sabha elections. 

The Delhi Police's anti-terror unit has traced the email domain to Russia, indicating possible involvement with the dark web-an encrypted online platform facilitating anonymity. Law enforcement agencies are considering a pan-India investigation, with the National Investigation Agency potentially taking over due to suspicions of terrorist involvement. The situation prompted a rapid response from police and fire services, inundated with calls from schools early Wednesday. Several prominent schools, including Delhi Public School (Mathura Road), DPS (Saket), Sanskriti School, Amity School (Saket), DAV (Model Town), DPS (Dwarka) and St. Mary School (Mayur Vihar) were among those targeted. Parents received alarming messages from school authorities, prompting swift evacuations coordinated with police searches using sniffer dogs. Despite the scale of the threat affecting numerous schools, authorities remain vigilant, with investigations ongoing. Enhanced security measures have been implemented across transportation hubs and markets in the capital. Vivek Gupta, whose son studies in Class 12th in DPS-Dwarka, said, "My son had left for his extra classes at 6.30 am. Around 8 am, we received a message about a threat e-mail.” Anita Aggarwal, a parent provided, "The school authorities asked the parents whose children travel by private taxis to get them picked while those who come in school buses were being sent back." Saurabh Tiwari, whose daughters study in two different schools in Dwarka, said students were evacuated by teachers. Several schools said they were able to carry out a swift evacuation of the students and staff, but dealing with the parents was a challenge. Some schools also said they plan to issue a circular for parents, outlining the standard operating procedure to guide them on how to react in adverse situations like these. 
The incident has spurred schools to reassess their emergency protocols, considering issuing guidelines to parents for responding to similar threats in the future. While no suspicious objects were found, the ordeal underscores the need for robust preparedness and coordination among stakeholders. In response to the threat, the Delhi government issued an advisory to schools, urging timely monitoring of official email communications. Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena has assured strict punishment for those responsible, as the investigation progresses.

A day etched in the memories of schools across the National Capital Region (NCR), May 1st witnessed a hoax threatening email received by 200-300 schools. The news spread like wildfire, dominating headlines and social media feeds. Parents, gripped by fear, rushed to their wards’ schools, regardless of whether the school had indeed received the ominous message.
At the helm of school leadership, my primary concern was the safety and security of each individual within the premises of DIS Edge. The panic that permeated the public compelled us to take immediate action, initiating evacuation and early dispersal of children. In this critical moment, we owe the smooth execution of our emergency protocols to the prompt action and seamless coordination of our disaster management team.
1. Preparedness Pays Off: Our mock drills, conducted diligently in the past, ensured that all children moved out swiftly and without chaos. The disciplined manner in which they exited the premises reflected the effectiveness of our preparedness measures.
2. Parent Cooperation: We extend our heartfelt gratitude to parents who cooperated with the school during this crisis. They entered the premises in small batches, allowing for proper verification and the safe handover of their children. Their calm demeanor contributed significantly to maintaining order.
3. Unsung Heroes: From the Didis and Bhaiyas  to the security staff, teachers and administrative team, every member played a crucial role. Their dedication ensured that our evacuation process remained efficient and organized.
4. Civil Agencies and Law Enforcement: The swift action of civil agencies and law enforcement personnel deserves commendation. Police officers visited multiple times, ensuring a smooth process. The bomb squad meticulously frisked the school, doubly ensuring safety. Their professionalism prevented chaos and potential harm.
5. Media Responsibility: In such situations, the role of the media is pivotal. Responsible reporting helps prevent unnecessary panic. We appreciate the media’s efforts to disseminate accurate information and maintain calm.
6. Mass Sensitization: This incident underscores the need for mass sensitization. All stakeholders-students, schools, parents, and authorities-must be aware of clear dos and don’ts during emergencies. Preparedness and a sturdy system are fundamental to judicious actions.
Together, we can and we will ensure the safety of our educational institutions. Let this serve as a reminder that crisis management is a life skill and a collective effort-one that transcends panic and fosters resilience.
Ms. Anubha Srivastava, Principal
Delhi International School Edge, Sector 18

We live in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Adapting to the new situation swiftly and effectively is the key but it comes with a bunch of challenges. The schools in Delhi witnessed one such incident of hoax bomb threat on Wednesday morning that created absolute pandemonium disrupting the functioning of the schools. After the news was out, many parents started making random calls and flocking outside the school gates in large numbers. They created utter chaos displaying zero patience and tolerance. Moreover, the dispersal of the students became a real challenge as the parents had blocked the entrances demanding their children. It is understood their concern was genuine but such emergencies can be dealt effectively only when adults behave responsibly without causing panic and fear among themselves. The parents must understand that the schools will make best efforts to ensure the safety of all students. In these testing times, we expect full cooperation from the parents as working in tandem will be in the best interest of the students. Indulging in unnecessary confrontations with the teachers and administrative authorities will only make the situation worse. One wrong step could lead to many untoward situations. In addition to this, the turmoil created could jeopardize the emotional and mental well-being of the children. It is imperative to understand that preparedness for emergencies in school is very different from other locations. Collaboration and cooperation is the key as it goes a long way in dealing with any urgency. This unfortunate incident must serve as a lesson to all the stakeholders to be better prepared for any unanticipated emergency in future. The police squads reached school only to instruct without much preparation themselves. There were neither bomb diffusing squads nor trained sniffer dogs accompanying them.
Such unforeseen incidents need extraordinary measures. Along with fire and earthquake drills, schools must organize drills for emergencies like this. A proper plan should be charted out to not only evacuate the students from the school building but also ensure their swift dispersal from different exit points. The plan should be shared with parents giving them specific instructions to avoid any confusion. Workshops, orientations and counselling sessions should be organized for the parents to instill in them the desired behaviour in these dire circumstances.
Ms. Sheelu Mathew, St. Mary's School

As caregivers and educators, ensuring the safety and security of our children is our utmost priority. In the light of yesterday's event, we want to reassure you that we have robust protocols and measures in place to safeguard our children while they are in school. Our staff is well-trained to handle various emergency situations, including threats and natural disasters. We conduct regular drills to prepare students and staff for such scenarios, ensuring everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in times of crisis. Additionally, we maintain open communication channels with other local authorities (Police, Directorate of Education) to stay updated on any potential threats or hazards in the school premises. In the event of an emergency, please be rest assured that we have designated school playground as safe zone within the school premises where students assemble and are accounted for. Today, our peer educators took the onus of leadership and visited classes III-XII. They not only brought assurance on safety norms but also reiterated on the evacuation procedure to be followed in case of any emergency. At the same time the little ones were comforted by their teachers. Our school buses are thoroughly checked before boarding and after completion of the route. This handholding has helped in building trust which is part of the deeply embedded safety culture in our school. We understand the importance of transparency and communication, and we will keep you informed promptly in the event of any emergency situation. Please ensure that your contact information is up-to-date so that we can reach you effectively when needed. Your trust in us is invaluable, and we are committed to maintaining a safe and happy place for our children to learn. Thank you for your continued support and partnership in keeping our school community safe.
Dr. Sudha Acharya, Principal, ITL Public School

Bomb scare in schools created panic in the minds of some of the parents of the school going kids. Kids were however ignorant and carried on with their schooling normally. In fact, one student of Grade 8 Kuval Anand refused to go back home when the parents came to collect him earlier. He, in fact, calmed them down. We are grateful to other parents who trusted us. Many parents volunteered to help the school in managing the handover to anxious parents.
The response of the crime branch, Delhi police and intelligence agencies is also appreciated. They acted as per the situation.  The human mind is probably attuned to imagining the worst. This trait probably helps in taking all situations seriously and being ready with the required response. But it can also lead to negative thoughts clouding our judgement. Mahatma Buddha also said that we should have a time lag between a stimulus and its response. Reactions are instant like a reflex action.
However, psychologists say that analysing a situation calmly and then responding is the essence of maintaining good mental health. Thus parents who acted calmly realised that the threat seems to be fake and did not rush to schools. They also trusted the schools. Most schools have a disaster management response team that helps in being prepared for emergencies and helps in mitigating suffering in trying times. Sri Venkateshwar International School had organised two first aid and CPR trainings and an evacuation drill in April. The National Disaster Management team also trained students and staff of Senior Wing in meeting emergencies. We at SVIS feel that real education is providing life skills to children and through them reach out to the community.
Ms. Nita Arora, Director
Sri Venkateshwar International School, Sector-18

1 May. 2024 was a day of panic, fear, chaos and utmost concern for the majority of Delhi schools including ours. Thousands of parents rushed to our school to pick up their wards and the urgency was so intense that it was a massive challenge to hand over each child to his/her parents safely. Evacuating thousands of students all of a sudden put the entire machinery of school into a frenzy. But, sensing the gravity of the situation, The Management, Teachers and Helping Staff immediately geared up and got into action for streamlining the swift evacuation of the building, keeping the chaos and panic in control, attending to non-stop phone calls of parents and trying to assure the parent that their child was safe. But in reality, it was not as easy as it seems! However, our students are well educated and trained towards such unprecedented dangers. Students are regularly instructed to be alert about their surroundings. They are taught not to touch any strange, suspicious or unidentified object. Rather, they must inform any trusted person or adult available. Students must be reminded about the safety measures to be taken at home, school or any other place if they come across such emergencies. Students and the staff must be given the confidence that if they use their presence of mind and seek immediate assistance from reliable sources, they will be safe. They should also be advised that they must not panic and run around. The school regularly conducts Mock Drills and Special Assemblies on such incidents to make the students aware, alert and confident and to guide them on how to react in adverse situations. In order to ensure fool proof security in the school, the entire building was thoroughly checked and sanitised by The Bomb Squad Team of Delhi Police today afternoon.
Ms. R. L. Saroha, MD, Paramount International School, Sector 23


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