Bengaluru: Even as Bengaluru is on high-alert (but not according to the city cops) after the arrest of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the man behind the pro-ISIS Twitter handle @ShamiWitness, and especially after few intimidating tweets that stated there would be a hostage situation in the city, experts feel Bengaluru is certainly vulnerable for such hostage-like incidents highlighting that the city is not ‘well equipped’ to handle such crisis.
Deccan Chronicle did a reality check in few of the malls, cafes, and cinema halls in the central business district to find out if the security measures adopted for the safety of customers were adequate, but the result was a big NO.
Before all the malls it was common sight to see two cops, a head constable and constable, deputed for security. Senior police officers like ACP (L&O) Alok Kumar, and DCP Central Division Sandeep Patil visited few malls to monitor the security arrangements.
There were guards at every entries and exits of the mall, frisking the shoppers who walked into the mall through a door-frame metal detector. Their baggage was also checked. Every vehicle, including bikes and cars, were checked using belly mirrors, and their luggage compartments checked thoroughly before they drove into the mall’s parking lot, claimed the mall staffers.
Haider, General Manager of a reputed mall in Central Bengaluru said that security staff was even deployed in civil clothes.
A security officer of a mall in South Bengaluru said, “Our security guards are mostly ex-servicemen and we even have a well equipped Emergency Response Team (ERT), who can handle any security related crisis inside the mall premises.”
A mall that had 11 auditoriums screening 11 cinema shows had only 17 security personnel for checking its personnel. At cafés the stock reply by the staff was since CCTV cameras were installed, they would inform the police immediately in case of crisis. But the biggest question is will all these measures ever be sufficient to deter a highly-motivated terrorist, experts wondered.
“Though premier and elite organisations for safeguarding internal security such as National Investigation Agency (NIA), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) along with Intelligence Bureau understandably have a very important role to play in national security, strengthening the grass-root level policing has to become the priority as they are the first respondent which is the hub of all intelligence relating to minor crime to major terrorist activities,” said Dr S.T. Ramesh IPS (Retired) former DG & IGP.
“The resource position at the grass-root level of policing has not kept pace with the economic social and technological changes and changing security environment. This is true with the Indian police in general and state and city police in particular. We have neglected the first responder for too long, and without strengthening policing, NIA, IB and RAW will not be so effective. No matter they play a very important role, we are dealing with global terrorism here and no city is exempt from these kinds of acts. We don’t know which is the next target? How and when?” Mr Ramesh added.
Experts said the probability of predicting a terror attack lies well within the limits of premier organisations such as NIA, RAW and IB. They get reliable information from their informants, spies, and technologies and with the help of police sometimes successfully tackle them by nabbing the terrorists before they execute their mission.
To an extent, government is also to be blamed for such ‘ill-equipped’ state as the police department has to see a reorganisation on war-footing in all its dimensions. This is evident with the dearth in the strength of the police personnel in the state.
The city police, however, has not provided security to schools in the city.