A high alert has been sounded in Odisha after four men, presenting themselves as Iraqi nationals, disappeared when asked to produce their identity proof at a hotel here last night, with police suspecting them to be terrorists.
The four men, with an estimated height of 6.5 feet and speaking in Hindi or English, came to the hotel in a car with a Delhi registration number which turned out to be fake, police said.
“The four persons who fled the hotel before the police reached there could be terrorists... The four suspected terrorists had claimed to be natives of Iraq,” said Director General of Police (DGP) K B Singh.
“They came in a car bearing Delhi number plate. However, verification of the car’s registration number showed that it was fake,” he added.
Siba Narayan Mohapatra, the hotel manager who interacted with one of the four men, said “While one of them came to the hotel reception desk, three others were inside the car parked outside. The CCTV has captured the picture of one suspected terrorist and the vehicle used by them.”
Commissioner of Police R P Sharma said they had come to stay in the hotel at about 9 pm last night but fled when they were asked to produce identity proof before being given rooms.
“The four persons wanted two rooms at the Hotel Arya Mahal,” Sharma said, adding the police got information from the hotel staff who suspected their movement. The police have seized the CCTV footage from the hotel.
“In the wake of the incident, the security of the Chief Minister’s carcade has been beefed up. We don’t want to take any chances and have heightened security and frisking,” Sharma said.
The Special Task Force (STF), led by IG Arun Bothra of Crime Branch of Police, has started investigation into the incident and launched an operation to trace the four men.
The team searched different hotels and lodges to locate the missing suspected terrorists.
“We are not sure whether the four persons are still in the state capital or not. Security personnel have been verifying CCTV installed at different places along Master canteen area,” said a senior police officer.
The police have also appealed to the public to inform them if they come across any suspected persons.