Private security guards in Uttar Pradesh may soon starting looking more professional and confident as the state Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) is all set to train them to combat terror strikes.

“The move aims to engage private security agencies in our fight against terrorism,” a senior official with the Uttar Pradesh ATS said.

“Deployment of only those private security guards will be allowed at multiplexes, cinema halls, banks and other prominent private establishments, who have successfully completed the training programme,” he added.

According to an estimate, there are nearly 125,000 private security guards from about 300 security agencies operating in the state.

Presently, there exists no rule that governs the deployment of security guards at private places.

“The training programme primarily aims to equip private security guards in tackling crime,” Additional Director General (Law and Order) A.K. Jain said.

“It (training programme) would definitely enable them (private security personnel) to assist police in tackling terror,” he added.

Highlighting the core contents of the training programme, the official said it would broadly comprise training the security guards on how to pick up early warning signs of terror strikes, how to handle a terror situation and how to act after terror strikes, officials said.

Another important part of the training programme would focus on enabling security guards to engage terrorists before the arrival of police and law enforcement agencies, they added.

Most private security guards do not undergo any specific training to control terror activities and are deployed merely on the basis of their physical fitness, the official said.

Private security agencies have hailed the ATS decision taken in consultation with the state’s home department.

“We welcome the decision. The initiative by the Uttar Pradesh ATS will keep a check on terror activities to a considerable extent,” Armaan Khan of Federal Securities, a prominent private security agency of Uttar Pradesh, said.

“The move will enhance the government’s human resource capacity to deal with terror strikes,” he added.

Even as no deadline has been fixed for launching the 60—hour training programme, sources in ATS said that the home department has directed them to initiate the programme “at the earliest”.

Sources said that the 60—hour training programme would be launched in a phased manner in parts of Uttar Pradesh.

At the time of its launch, the training will cover security guards of Lucknow and several districts of western Uttar Pradesh, they added.

Reacting to the decision taken by the ATS, retired inspector—general of state police S.R. Darapuri told IANS: “It seems that after undergoing the course, security guards will become more vigilant and aware to check crime.”