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‘It’s common sense to keep the safety catch on’

Special Correspondent
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Lack of training leads to such close calls, security service providers say

“It’s common sense that the safety catch has to be on while carrying the weapon. It is utter negligence on the part of the private security officer if the gun goes off accidentally,” according to K.P. Nagesh, president, Karnataka State Private Security Service Association.

Pinning down the reason for the two recent instances of accidental firing in Bangalore over the last three days, Mr. Nagesh, a retired flight lieutenant, pointed out 90 per cent of the armed private security officers in the State are ex-servicemen, who should know the basics. “Such lapses cannot be tolerated,” he said.

Flt. Lieut. Nagesh said the root of the problem is the absence of regular training for the armed guards, which private security agencies cannot provide unless the Union Ministry of Home Affairs clears their proposal in this regard.

The safety catch should be unlocked only during emergency when they need to open fire, and absence of regular training is leading to such negligent situations.

The 937 licensed private security agencies in Karnataka — with about 4 lakh guards and 400 armed officers — are bound by the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act 2005 and monitored by the State Internal Security Division of the State Police.

‘No experience’

Meanwhile, Bhaskar Rao, Inspector-General of Police and head of the Internal Security Division, told The Hindu majority of the armed private guards don’t have experience in handling weapons. “They would not have had practice or training in handling weapons. They would have done it long ago while in service (if they are ex-servicemen), and have borrowed the weapon from someone to secure a job. Such indiscipline among the private security guards endangers the life and property of others.”

Local police investigating the case have to verify the licence and the source of the weapon. “If it is a personal weapon, the guard should be booked for negligence and his licence impounded. However if the weapon belongs to someone else, the owner should also be booked for negligence,” Mr. Rao said.

With several private security firms deploying security officers to ferry cash to banks and ATMs, adequate and regular training is a must. Internal Security officials, who issue weapons licences to private security agencies, said if it is reported to them that the agencies are not following the appropriate guidelines, they can conduct an inquiry and take appropriate action.

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