Security at public places still dicey

June 30, 2016 12:00 am | Updated November 17, 2021 02:37 am IST - HYDERABAD:

Well-trained and equipped teams of the Organisation for Counter Terrorist Operations (OCTOPUS) and the National Security Guard (NSG) are deployed at centrally located places in the city. Yet, the city is not completely secure from terror attacks, because these elite commandos can take up rescue operations or neutralise terrorists only when the latter attack.

“These commandos cannot prevent a terror strike. A worrying point is the low consciousness of other stakeholders, like private establishments, in preventing such possible attacks,” admits a top city police officer unwilling to be quoted. Initiatives of the police to make the city secure — attempting to bring the entire city under surveillance of high-quality cameras — surely enhanced safety level vis-à-vis the situation a few years ago.

The government liberally releasing funds to purchase fleets of modern vehicles too improved their mobility and response time. “But, that alone cannot guarantee safety of citizens. At malls, multiplexes, and religious places, which witness huge congregations of people, security standards are abysmally low,” observe policemen at the field level.

Bus stands, malls, and theatre complexes are classic examples. The door frame metal detectors are namesake. The guard in uniform rarely bothers to keep an eye on suspects. Many of them are not adequately trained to identify suspects or keep tab on suspicious objects.

During random security checks, persons of the Hyderabad Police Commissioner’s Task Force managed to go inside malls and theatres freely while keeping firearms or explosive substances inside their clothes.

“We cannot poke them continuously to improve their alertness, as they accuse us of harassment,” a Task Force official says.

Small contingents of armed policemen with new vehicles were deployed at strategic points. Preparedness of these teams is generally not tested for various reasons.

Earlier, campaigns to enlighten citizens on the need to be vigilant were taken up on a massive scale with continuous announcements being made through public address systems at all junctions whenever the city witnessed terror attacks.

Slowly, the campaigns were withdrawn. At a broader level, the Telangana government is planning to make the city safe by building a state-of-the-art police command centre by synchronising communication systems with surveillance cameras.

Yet, not much has changed at places like Picket in Secunderabad — the second biggest bus-stand in city — where any person can simply walk in and out after planting explosives inside.

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