“Our job is to inform police and not fight terrorists. We are unarmed. We will run away,” says Manish, a private security guard deployed at Bahu Plaza commercial complex of Jammu Development Authority (JDA), when asked about the standard security drill for a terror attack.
Several private security firms operate in the capital, which is on the high alert after the Dhaka attacks. They guard places with large public footfalls like malls, hotels, markets, bus and railway stations. The Newspoint reality check throws up horrifying results. Informal Standing Operating Procedure (SoP) of private guards deployed outside most high-end restaurants is ‘Dial 100 and flee.’
They have undergone just 45 days of mandatory training by the state government. Owner of a private security agency says the guards are required to inform the police during a terror attack or after spotting the bad guy with a gun. Wave mall, a favourite hangout spot among the trendy that has several shops has only one checking point. Most shops do not even have a private security guard. And this is the condition of the Capital’s upscale shopping and hangout zone.
Ashok Kumar, who guards the entrance of a wave mall, says: “If someone comes in with a gun my only option is to run. I have is no insurance, and with a salary of Rs. 5,000 do they expect me to jump in front of a gun?” he asks. Traders Association says that CCTV cameras capture every movement and are monitored by the Jammu Police.
“But if someone comes out of a car and starts shooting then what can anyone do?” he asks. Ranjay Rana, a restaurateur says markets are the most vulnerable since it’s easy to plant a bomb anywhere. Old City has no particular entry and exit point. Even with security, it is impossible to keep a track on all visitors. “We have introduced metal detectors but to be honest, I still don’t feel it is 100 per cent safe. We cannot rigorously frisk guests, who may take offence,” Ranjay said.
Security guard Rajesh said; “We are overworked, and sometimes are on daily duty 14 hours a day for just Rs 4000 a month. We cannot even handle local goons since we have no batons or fiber sticks.” The single private guard meant to guard was found sitting under the shade of a tree; no metal detector, no security check. Malls have more security guards. Metal detectors are working and every visitor is frisked. But they posses no weapons or the training needed to tackle terror attacks.
Anupam Sharma, Mall Manager said he has two tiers of private security guards conducting regular drills to deal with emergencies. “Our X-ray machines are regularly serviced and there is always enough manpower to check each bag. We have also ensured there are enough relievers,” he said. A senior police officer said hotels have been asked to deploy at least four security guards at the main gate. Big hotels have been instructed to install wheeled bollards at the gates.
“All the hotel managers have been asked to install close-circuit television cameras on their premises and share the footage with the local police on a day to day basis,” he said. “Many security agencies openly flout the norms. No strong mechanism exists to monitor the negligence of security agency owners,” says Dalip Gupta, who runs the Private Security institute.
The security guards at banks and ATMs are mostly retired ex-servicemen who carry outdated two bore shotguns to counter the sophisticated AK series rifles of terrorists. A senior retired police officer said that 4,000 plus security guards deployed outside Delhi government buildings, schools and hospitals are untrained, though the agencies possess training certificates.