New Delhi: A little after 10 pm on Tuesday, commandos trooped into two prominent South Delhi malls, a crowded basement shopping complex in the heart of the city and a five-star hotel, causing some moments of panic. Until it turned out to be a security drill, codenamed "Operation Black Rose".
At least four locations, the Promenade and Ambience malls in Vasant Kunj, Palika Bazar in Connaught Place and the Hotel Eros International in Nehru Place were evacuated in the anti-terror exercise.
Commandos, police, fire department and other essential services moved into spots that are usually crowded, swiftly evacuating people as part of a choreographed plan.
At the Ambience mall, most of the shops were shut, but diners were asked to leave the food court, which led to some alarm, an eyewitness told NDTV.
Sources said the drill was "routine" and the authorities were trying to access the security arrangements ahead of New Year's Eve. This, they said, is done to check preparedness ahead of any major celebration.
Security agencies are also on alert days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to Pakistan and made a surprise stop at Lahore to greet Nawaz Sharif on his way home from Afghanistan.
"In the past, whenever India has reached out to Pakistan, a section in Pakistan that is against peace has hit back," a senior security official said, explaining the bigger canvas.
A routine security alert has been sent out earlier warning all states to be more vigilant. Similar exercises are expected to happen in other metros like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata as well.
Sources said the mock drills were planned late in the night as it would inconvenience fewer people. Besides, the troops will get a proper ground feel and at the same time, all emergency systems -- from fire department, medics to evacuation systems in the malls -- can be tested.