Sunday , 24 February 2019

Sham of Private Security In Crowded Places

In a week from now the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa would assemble in the state for BRICS Summit. The central and state forces are supposed to have taken all security measures, especially in view of the India-Pakistan tensions, and the announcements by certain Pakistan-based terror groups to avenge India’s surgical strikes. Terrorists are often equipped with technologies that can mislead or blunt the counter-attack of the state forces; so, the security forces have to be equipped with better technologies.  There is need to maintain surveillance not only over the sites where the leaders stay and meet, but also at crowded places such as cinemas, malls, hotels, restaurants, stadia and exhibition centres. Ever since the first mega international event in the form of Commonwealth Heads of Government Retreat after Meeting (CHOGRAM) was held in the state in 1983, Goa has played host to a number of national and international events. While security personnel are deployed at places where major events are held, the security at cinema theatres, malls, stadia, hotels, restaurants, auditoria and exhibitions is handled by private security personnel, most of whom have hardly any training or latest equipment to carry out thorough body and baggage checks. There is every possibility of terrorist elements sneaking in through their perfunctory screening. Terrorists all over the world seek crowded places as targets to send out their message, in their own crooked reasoning, to the government. The authorities cannot therefore afford to lower guard on the security in public places as any terror attack in the state could have a telling effect on the tourism sector, one of the main components of the revenue to the state. As the Goa police would be concentrating on deployment at the BRICS sites, the state authorities need to ensure that private security forces were equipped to detect any threat and deal with it.

The owners of cinema theatres, malls, stadia, hotels, restaurants and auditoria must be directed by government to make security at their entry points tight and strong. Only persons especially trained in screening body and baggage should be deployed at the entrances. The owners and operators of the private security agencies should also be made responsible for providing only trained and qualified security personnel for screening jobs. The private security personnel have to be sensitized to ensure that their job was not only to safeguard the owners’ property but also to prevent crime and violence against the people visiting those establishments. The presence of security personnel should serve as a deterrent to potential lawbreakers. The Goa police must be given authority by the state government to drive the managements of cinema theatres, malls, stadia, hotels, restaurants and auditoria and exhibitions to deploy only specially trained personnel for security. The Goa police should also monitor if the private security agencies and the managements have provided the latest equipment to the security personnel to make a foolproof check.

The utter lack of sound security check at these establishments has been noticed all these years, though the BRICS summit has brought their weakness in focus. The Goa police have issued an advisory to cinemas, malls, hotels and restaurants to maintain strict vigilance in view of the BRICS summit. However, perhaps the time is too short for the owners to put reliable security in place. The Goa police should therefore pursue the matter with them even after BRICS summit is over. For, Goa is seen as a soft target and crowded places could be the softest. The owners of cinema theatres, malls, stadia, hotels, restaurants and auditoria and organizers of exhibitions should be asked to acquire body scanner machines that can detect hidden objects with extremely high frequency radiation known as millimetre waves that can find concealed weapons at a distance of up to 15 metres. The private security men need to be trained to respond in seconds to prevent any attack in case any weapon is detected by these gadgets. It is a common knowledge that private security guards are poorly paid and made to put in long hours which is not only exhausting but also can discourage them from effectively carrying out their duties. Owing to their low income, they could be prone to temptations and collaborate with the law-breakers. The antecedents of private security guards should be checked before they are taken on screening jobs. As the number of cinema theatres, malls, stadia, hotels, restaurants and auditoria increases in the state, the extent of risk to human life increases. People go with families to these places. The owners of cinema theatres, malls, stadia, hotels, restaurants and auditoria must prove themselves to be socially responsible by putting unbreachable security in place in order to prevent a human tragedy.

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