In the wake of two low-intensity bomb blasts in Bangalore-Guwahati Express in Chennai station on Thursday, the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) heightened the security at Visakhapatnam Railway Station, a key station on the Kolkata-Chennai route. But the security personnel appear to fight against the odds, especially when technology has taken the driver’s seat in surveillance and providing assistance to security.
Visakhpatnam Railway Station has no security cameras installed inside the platform or the outside. This has become a major hurdle for the security personnel. “Security cameras play an important role not only for surveillance but also for identifying the perpetrators after a mishap. Fortunately, no untoward incident occurred so far, otherwise we will be caught on the wrong foot,” said Superintendent of Police Ch. Syam Prasad.Staff shortage
The RPF is short-staffed, and in combination with the GRP the total force hardly make up to 150 personnel who have to man the entire division. The proposal for installation of at least 36 CC cameras was made in 2006 and so far none has been set up. “Things have changed since 2006, now we have eight platforms and another two are in the making. We need at least 100 cameras both inside and outside to cover the entire station, along with the monitor room,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police (GRP) S. Venkat Rao.
Visakhapatnam station has four legal entry and exit points and over a dozen unauthorised points, which makes the station more vulnerable. And there are only two DFMD (door frame metal detectors) to scan the commuters. There are no luggage scanners and the RPF and the GRP officials have to manage with a couple of hand-held metal detectors, by conducting random checks.
It is surprising that Waltair Division of the East Coast Railway, which is one among the highest revenue grossing divisions in the country, has not taken security aspects seriously. “We have about 150 trains passing through on a daily basis,” said a GRP officer.
As part of beefing up of security after the Chennai incident, the staff of both the security agencies have been put on red alert and they are managing with two dog squads and random checks both inside trains and on the platforms. “We have also intensified our checks outside the station, especially at parking lots, as it is believed that in Chennai the miscreant came from outside and placed the bomb,” said Dr. Syam Prasad.