The attack on 44-year-old bank manager Jyothi Uday in an ATM kiosk in the city drew attention to the lack of adequate security at money vending machines. More than 1,100 ATMs were shut down by the police when banks failed to comply with their security directives.
The Hindu recently visited some ATMs across the city to check the security measures that have been put in place and spoke to the guards on duty. When we asked a guard whether he had been imparted training before being deployed, he replied that he had been taught basic defence techniques. This was the case with most of the guards. Some had been given sticks. A few said they would call the police rather than put up a fight.
One of them said, “I have not been trained but I am expected to fend off attacks. All I can do is help customers who don’t know how to use the ATM.”
Some were confident of defending themselves. A guard in an ATM on Bannerghatta Road said, “In case of an attack, I will use the stick to hit the attacker or attackers and will chase him or them away the help of stray dogs nearby.”
Working conditions While there is a rule that security guards must work in eight-hour shifts, most work for 12 hours.
In-between, some wandered off to nearby shops or tea stalls to talk to the shop-keepers, leaving the ATMs unguarded.
A security guard, on the condition of anonymity, said, “I work for eight hours a day. I was not given a weapon. I don’t have a chair to sit on. I had to borrow one from the neighbouring shop.”
Ganesh S.H, a guard posted at an ATM kiosk on Bannerghatta Road, said, “I have only five minutes to use the washroom. I either use public toilets or relieve myself in an isolated place. I am paid Rs. 6,500 rupees a month. The only instruction I have been given is to observe customers, and monitor what they do.”