The highest number of terror attacks in 2019 were on hotels, followed next by religious places, said Brigadier S Bubesh Kumar, director of the Centre for Counter-Terrorism (CCT). He was speaking on Friday at a workshop on anti-terrorism and security threats to the hospitality sector.
However, despite hotels being in the terrorist bullseye, the situation in the Karnataka hospitality trade is one of complacency, if not half-measures, the experts said, adding that the November 2008 attack in Mumbai had not sent up enough red flags for hotels to take note of.
An analysis by Garuda Force, the state’s elite counter-terrorism force which was created in 2012, to serve as the counter-terror first responder for Karnataka, found that many hotels not only lacked security precautions but that most were also disinterested in assessing and fixing security lapses.
Lt Colonel Rohit Nayak, deputy director (Training) of the CCT explained that hotels did not cooperate with security drills at their sites, did not train staff properly and were lackadaisical about their security protocols. “CCT mock drills are not given due importance by hotels and hotel security personnel do not actually participate in the drills,” he said.
He added that hotels do not also limit access to various floors which makes it easier for terrorists to move around, preventing mitigation of collateral damage. “Their CCTV control rooms are not located tactically. In many places, there was no pillar to which we could fix ropes for top-down entry. Hotels are also always hesitant to share their building plans with us and there is no formal procedure to train hotel staff to counter terrorists as they do in Israel,” he said.
The findings were accumulated over the course of 120 mock drills conducted by Garuda Force at various locations in the last eight years.