The recent incidents of robbery at two adjoining houses in the Capital's Kalkaji Extension area in which a senior citizen was murdered and another seriously injured have once again brought to the fore the issue of safety and security in Delhi.

Both the victims lived on the ground floor of buildings located inside a gated colony. Despite the fact that private security guards had been deployed for night patrolling, the robbers managed to sneak into the colony, enter the houses by removing iron grills, and decamped with the loot after overpowering the elderly residents. All this while, the security guards did not notice any suspicious activity, which indicates sheer lack of training and orientation on their part.

“At the core of the problem today is the increasing floating population. Almost all such crimes are committed by those who have no permanent addresses in the Capital and therefore they take advantage of the anonymity factor. They may be illegal Bangladeshi migrants, criminal elements from neighbouring States and also from far-off places in Bihar. We have no institutionalised mechanism to gather and supply information on those entering the city,” says a police officer.

As it now turns out, all those allegedly involved in the Kalkaji case were vagabonds.

Given the fact that the police do not have enough manpower to provide a blanket security cover to the city, private security agencies can play a vital role. “Over 1,000 big and small security agencies are presently operating in and around Delhi. The collective manpower of these agencies can help provide a much better security cover to residential colonies, big markets and business centres. What they lack is proper training,” said a police officer.

Recognising the need to integrate these agencies into the city's security apparatus, the authorities have taken steps to regulate them. In fact, it has now been made mandatory for all private security agencies to get a licence from the government under the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005, and the Delhi Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Rules, 2009.

While all agencies are required to maintain a register of their employees, issue identity cards and ensure that their security guards wear uniforms and badges, they also have to get them trained by Delhi Home Guards.

“The 24-day training module for each batch will focus mainly on security aspects. The participants will be trained in fire-fighting, rescue operations, first-aid and other allied subjects,” said Home Guards Commandant Ram Niwas Meena, adding that in keeping with future possibilities the trainees will also be taught to handle wireless communication equipments. They will also be trained in conducting intelligent checks and develop recall skills.

“A security guard is expected to recognise each resident of the area by face and name. He should also know whom to contact and how to react to any eventuality,” he said. The Central Training Institute of the Home Guards will charge Rs.2,000 per candidate from the interested security agencies.

The Delhi Home Guards have also taken a novel initiative of getting home guard and civil defence personnel who have completed their five-year tenure employed with private security agencies. “Two batches, each containing 50 personnel, have so far been rehabilitated with a premier security agency,” said Mr. Meena, expressing hope that the deployment of trained and people-friendly guards would eventually instil a sense of security among the public.

Devesh K. Pandey