NEW DELHI, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Following massive sanitization and searches in and outside India's iconic tourist destination Taj Mahal, police in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday said the bomb scare there turned out to be a hoax.
Authorities on Thursday morning asked visitors to vacate the premises of Taj Mahal and sounded an alert after it received a phone call saying a bomb was planted at the tourist destination.
The mausoleum was briefly shut and over 1,000 tourists there were evacuated.
According to police, the call was made to the police helpline following which Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel deployed at the monument were informed.
The CISF personnel swung into action and asked the visitors to vacate the premises immediately.
The moves triggered panic in the area, especially among the tourists.
"Today morning a man called on police helpline number from his mobile phone saying his recruitment in the army has been cancelled and therefore he has planted a bomb near Taj Mahal," senior police official Babloo Kumar said.
"The CISF team along with a team from Archeological Survey of India (ASI), local police and a bomb disposal squad sanitized the area and thoroughly checked it, during which nothing unusual has been found," he said.
Kumar said the monument has been declared safe and reopened to visitors.
Meanwhile, the hoax call was traced to the Firozabad area in Uttar Pradesh.
"Location of the person, who had made the call has been traced. Police teams have been rushed to Firozabad to arrest him," Kumar said.
Taj Mahal was reopened to tourists in September last year with strict COVID-19 safety guidelines after being shut for over six months. The monument was closed on March 17 last year over the coronavirus epidemic.
The ivory-white marble mausoleum was built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. It is a UNESCO listed world heritage site and one of the world's leading tourist attractions. Indian media reports said prior to COVID-19 Taj Mahal attracted seven million visitors each year including a large number of foreign tourists.