Lack of surveillance systems in many hotels in the city is hampering investigations, writes MARRI RAMU

When the police took up investigation into the mysterious quadruple killings in RAK Royal lodge near Secunderabad railway station a few days ago, they believed that the visuals recorded by hidden cameras in the lodge would be the main clue. To their surprise, they found the lodge management did not install cameras at all.

They went to Parklane hotel in Secunderabad on learning that the victim and his family members stayed there for two days earlier. Being a bigger hotel, they hoped this hotel would surely have secret cameras and the pictures would help them zero in on the prime suspects. Even Parklane hotel did not have any camera surveillance which the police had been insisting at all public, private places following terror attacks.

Though the investigators eventually caught the accused pursuing other leads, serious questions remain about the security lapses at lodgesin the State capital. It is not the first homicide case where such lapses had come to the fore. A junior artiste, Arzoo Ali, was found murdered in Sindhuri lodge in Ramgopalpet two months ago. Here too, there were no hidden cameras. Even the address of the person who reserved the room turned out to be fictitious.

Earlier security at lodges meant only ensuring that offenders did not take shelter there in the guise of guests. But the terror attacks in 2007 prompted the law-enforcing agencies to come out with security advisory for the owners of lodges and hotels. The lapses in the present two cases indicate that the managements did not take the security campaign undertaken by the police seriously.

Hidden cameras, police believe, would not only help detect crime but deter the offenders for fear of being identified. But most of the lodges are not even collecting correct details of the customers.

In the Arzoo Ali murder case, police reportedly stumbled upon evidence that one lodge employee was collecting commission from the customers and reserving rooms with fictitious names and addresses.

The two offenders from Mumbai, who were caught in the sensational heist of Joy Alukkas jewellery shop, admitted to police that they stayed in a lodge in the city for a fortnight for doing reconnaissance of the building. In RAK Royal lodge case, rooms were booked in the name of the victim without his knowledge. The police maintain they cannot compel managements to install security gadgets.