Being cautious for a safer festival

policing measures

If you have seen your nearest flea market in Delhi swamped by police personnel every Diwali, expect to see a lot more boots on the ground this time around.

Following the bomb blasts in Patna, which have claimed six lives uptil now, the Central Government has issued an advisory to every State to beef up their security, and Delhi Police is taking no chances with the safety of Diwali revellers, especially in the crowded and ever-vulnerable market areas.

More door frame metal detectors have been set up with frisking tightened, watchtowers have been raised in every corner with policemen keeping vigil behind sandbags as well, patrolling has been increased and shop owners are not complaining of malfunctioning CCTVs this time. Security is a big concern this Diwali keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly elections too.

Sindhu Pillai, DCP, North Delhi, says, “The biggest challenge in policing markets of Old Delhi is the high-density crowd and traffic management. A unit of my team will be focusing on traffic regulation only so that immediate action can be taken if something suspicious is spotted. More police pickets have been set up and alertness messages are being issued. Random checking is also being done to curb untoward activities.” Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Lahori Gate and Kamla Nagar Markets fall in Sindhu’s jurisdiction.

The New Delhi district police - which mans five markets, namely, Connaught Place, Khan Market, Malcha Marg Market, Gol Market and Pandara Road Market – is relying on its ‘Eyes and Ears Scheme.’ “We have asked all shop owners and assistants, vendors, hawkers, parking attendants and even cobblers and rag pickers to stay alert. Police cannot be there every time and at every place. In such instances, these people prove to be extremely helpful,” says additional DCP, New Delhi, Madhur Verma.

Checking of cars parked in and around such markets has also been heightened to detect the possibility of explosives being carried in them. “For this, we have deputed police persons at every parking lot and barricades are being put up in and around them,” adds
Madhur.

Police officers at the senior most levels are getting down to the ground, conducting routine patrols of their areas and speaking to market associations. Gaurav Sharma, Additional DCP, South east, says, “I am personally visiting Lajpat Nagar Market, amongst other areas, on a daily basis. We are taking reports from the area SHOs and ACPs four times a day and the Anti-Terrorist Operations (ATO) inspector has been given round-the-clock charge. Our commandos are also patrolling frequently and bomb disposal squads are on standby.”

Loopholes, as shopkeepers point out to Metrolife, however, remain. Pramod Sharma, President, Sarojni Market Shopkeepers Association, says, “Unlike many other markets in the city, Sarojni is open from all sides. We have requested NDMC to erect a boundary wall several times but to no effect. In such a scenario putting up door frame metal detectors hardly makes a difference.”

Sarojini Nagar market witnessed a deadly bomb blast just before Diwali in 2005 in which 43 people perished. Memories of that incident are still fresh in his mind.  

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