Patrolling was found wanting on Church St

Patrolling was found wanting on Church St

The City police were on extra alert ever since IS sympathiser Mehdi Masroor Biswas was arrested a couple of weeks ago. There was also the general alert from the intelligence agencies.

This is not all. Church Street was a sensitive zone for the Bengaluru Central division police in view of the New Year, just two days away.

But on Sunday, it was basic policing - particularly patrolling - that was missing. For over an hour, no beat constable spotted the “suspicious object” on the pavement, leading to the blast.

Church Street, with several restaurants on the stretch, makes it vulnerable considering the crowd on any given day, especially weekends. At any given time on weekend, Church Street will have a cosmopolitan crowd, including people from abroad.

“Church Street is an important stretch from the point of view of bandobast during weekends. As the New Year’s Eve nears, the Church Street, along with MG Road, Brigade Road and Rest House Road, becomes more vulnerable. There have been cases of molestation during New Year revelry in the past. The jurisdictional police have time and again analysed footage from available CCTV cameras. Yet, it is a matter of concern that explosives went unnoticed even by beat constables who would have walked past the pavement at some point of time before the blast,” a retired police officer said.

After the arrest of Mehdi, there were tweets threatening revenge. The City police brushed aside the threat perception, but intensified security drills at sensitive places such as railway stations, bus terminuses and crowded market areas. In fact, the security arrangements are reviewed systematically only during such drills. But the high alert eased after two weeks.

The Cubbon Park police station, despite being an important police station with several vital installations in its jurisdiction, is yet to be revamped, said another officer. “The police officials who are deployed during protests are also expected to crack crime incidents. The beat system should be revamped so that the responsibility for a particular stretch can be fixed without any room for excuses,” another officer said.

A senior police official said that police will have numerous CCTV footage to analyse on Church Street, since every establishment on the stretch is fitted with cameras. The stretch was also well lit in view of the festive season, the officer said. 

On Thursday, police beefed up security cover around MG Road. More number of policemen were deployed at some of these roads anticipating large crowds in the build-up to Christmas.
DH News Service

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