Lax security at Namma Metro

The security scare at Bengaluru’s Namma Metro station after a person who was suspected to be concealing a metal object inside his clothes made good his escape, is a sad commentary on the total unpreparedness to deal with such eventualities, even as the country is on high alert following the blasts in neighbouring Sri Lanka. With the daily peak ridership often crossing the four-lakh mark, Namma Metro with its lackadaisical attitude towards security is putting the lives of its commuters to great risk. The bombing of the Minsk Metro, Belarus, in 2011 and the terrorist attack on Saint Petersburg Metro, Russia, in 2017, which led to the loss of several lives, have not been forgotten, but the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) authorities are yet to wake up to the impending threat. The security apparatus comprising untrained private guards who do not even understand Kannada and two lathi-wielding police constables, inspires no confidence and could actually be an open invitation to terrorists. The suspicious person who escaped could have well been a suicide bomber who could have blown himself up, but there was no system in place to either apprehend or neutralise him if the situation arose.

This is not the first time that such an episode has occurred. In 2016, it was reported that an unidentified businessman had walked into the train at Bayapanahalli station with a gun, brushing aside a security guard who made a vain attempt to stop him. While thankfully, the breach did not result in any unfortunate incident, no lesson was learnt from it and security continues to be lax as ever. The BMRCL has for long been seeking deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel on the lines of airports and the Delhi Metro, but has not yet received a favourable response. This, however, does not mean it should not make interim arrangements to secure its stations.

Experts have suggested that BMRCL should raise its own security corps on the lines of Railway Protection Force (RPF), complete with well-trained personnel, bomb disposal squads and sniffer dogs. Until such an exclusive force is raised, Namma Metro should requisition the services of the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP), the City Armed Reserve (CAR) or any such unit which has men to spare. In addition, it is also imperative that modern security equipment including face recognition cameras are installed. Namma Metro is now a sitting duck and Bengaluru Development Minister G Parameshwara who is also in charge of BMRCL, should take personal interest in setting things right, for any delay in strengthening the security could have disastrous consequences.

 

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