Police to blame for complacency in blast

Each time Bengaluru and its police force seem to turn complacent, along comes a blast that shakes the city from its ennui. While ordinary citizens can be excused as they are caught up in the rough and tumble of day-to-day life, the same cannot be extended to the police whose raison d’être is to provide security to one and all.

It is bewildering but, more than that, scary, when the police is caught napping in a blast like that on Church Street. Considering that the city has been a target since 1999, one would have expected the police to be better prepared. Instead, they seem as

flat-footed as they were the first time. The next terror strike was in 2005 at the Indian Institute of Science. The main culprits were never caught. Then came the 2008 serial blasts.
Kerala politician Abdul Nasar Madani is an accused in the case. The 2010 Chinnaswamy Stadium blast was another warning that terror lurked around the corner.  The 2013 blast near the BJP office in Malleswaram too surprised the police.

It is hugely unfortunate that an innocent bystander was killed and several were injured on Church Street in the blast on Sunday. While every life is invaluable, one shudders to think of the consequences if the blast had been of a higher magnitude.

If City Police Commissioner M N Reddi’s statement that the force was on alert is taken at face value, the question is: how could a blast occur in the heart of the city when the police is on alert? Similarly, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, at a review meeting, said there was no intelligence failure. This is not corroborated by events on the ground.

The government and the police should rethink security strategies. The usual knee-jerk response is to come up with a series of sledge-hammer measures like banning movement, restricting festivities and prohibiting businesses from extended working hours. These reactions have limited impact on security.

Instead, we need to see more innovative security solutions, use of the latest technologies to monitor and make it difficult for someone to shove a bomb inside a bush as in the Church Street instance.

The most effective security is one which is discreet and leaves no area uncovered in its sweep, as is the case in some of the top cities in the world. In today’s scenario, the terrorist threat is omnipresent.

The police would do well to adapt themselves to the situation and be effective rather than follow outdated methods and make statements that carry no conviction.

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