Do more ATMs spell more trouble?

MANY KIOSKS

Do more ATMs spell  more trouble?

It’s been three months since the alarming attack on a woman in an ATM centre in the City.

However, ATM centres without security guards or proper CCTV cameras continue to exist. While people seem to adjust, they fear going to an ATM centre with two or more counters as they feel there are more chances of untoward incidents happening here.

   Many voice that ATM centres give them the jitters and that they are extra careful around them. Anagha Mokhasi, an HR executive in the City, doesn’t go alone to an ATM centre which has more than one counter.

   “I always make it a point to go with someone I know when I’m going to an ATM centre with more machines. One can never judge a person by his or her looks. So I try my best to wait till the person before me is done,” she says.

Anagha says that the CCTV cameras give a very blurry image of the people inside, which was seen during the ATM attack in November. She adds, “Also in a centre with more counters, if you swipe the card and it doesn’t work, there are higher chances of you asking a stranger for help, which can lead to anything. Since one can’t trust anyone these days, it’s best that such centres are more guarded or done away with altogether.”

Faiza Begum, a post-graduate student, agrees that such counters should be closed down and more standalone ATM centres should be constructed. “It might be a costlier procedure but it’s definitely a safer option. At most centres, the cameras still don’t work. Centres, with an influx of people, should either have a live video monitoring or more security guards. There is no point regretting later,” voices Faiza.

A call-centre executive who works in the late night shift, Deepak Sreeraj is wary of ATM centres with more counters. “Most security guards at the ATMs are middle-aged and cannot run after a criminal or manhandle them in times of crisis. Adding to that, the thought of anyone entering an ATM centre when your back is facing the door is scary,” he says.

Deepak adds that like many of his friends, he also makes it a point to go to ATM centres located near a bank as their safety system is more efficient. There are others who feel that being alert is the only way out. “Most ATM centres have guards now. But in centres with more counters, there is always a fear of someone else seeing your password. Being alert and making an eye contact to deter the other person is the best way out during such instances,” she says.

Officials say that there is no need to fear as the ATMs are closely monitored now. A private bank official in JP Nagar says that most banks are extra careful after the ATM incident and that there are no additional problems in centres with two or more counters. “We have installed the best cameras and appointed guards at these centres. Many people are still seen in ATM centres with more counters,” says the banker.

So is extra care taken around these centres? Kamal Pant, additional commissioner of police (law and order), says that there are no specifications for ATM centres with more counters.

   “Every ATM centre in the City should have the necessary safety features which include security guard, alarm bell and CCTV coverage from both inside and outside. The deadline for this, which was mid-January, wasn’t met.

So a proposal for the extension of this deadline is in process,” he says. “But as far as ATM centres with more counters are concerned, the requirements are the same as they have a single entrance,” he wraps up.

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