No one to bank Upon

It could have happened to anyone. A 45-year-old man, who arrived at the Corporation bank in Chikkabannavara on Monday, was robbed of the Rs 10 lakh that he had come to deposit by a 25-year-old thief, who shot him in the hand and fled. The victim of the robbery later died of profuse bleeding from his gun wound. The shocking robbery which saw high drama with the thief whipping out a gun and threatening staff and customers in true filmi style, could not have
better demonstrated how ineffective the private security system around banks and other institutions in the city, is.

Other recent robberies at banks, jewellery showrooms and financial institutions in the city
too have been an eyeopener about their inadequate security as the guards employed are usually too old to take on armed robbers or even defend themselves against them, let alone others who may need their assistance. If armed, these guards are usually reluctant to open fire as they don’t want to lose their gun licences, admit representatives of private security agencies.While the police is
quick to blame the managements of the banks and showrooms for not paying enough attention to their security, it is silent on the role of its own Internal Security Division (ISD), which is expected to keep tabs on the functioning of security agencies across the state. In the absence of strict monitoring nearly half of the over 800 security agencies lack valid licenses, say sources.

The director of a leading security agency in the city, which has nearly 1200 security guards on call, says most agencies get away with flouting the rules as their enforcement is very lax. On paper the state is covered by the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005, which calls for 100 hours of classroom instruction and 60 hours of field training for security guards, who are expected to be physically fit, capable of fighting fire, controlling crowds, administering first aid and using security equipment. But in reality the Act may as well be non-existent as although an officer of the rank of a deputy inspector general of police of the ISD is supposed to inspect the functioning of the agencies' training facilities and make sure that they are properly staffed before issuing them a licence, such inspections are rare. Consequently many agencies blatantly rely on old, weak guards to man all sorts of facilities.

While the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act provides for imprisonment or a fine of upto Rs 25,000 or both for agencies operating without licence, the police does not care to take action against them, say sources, pointing out that unless the ISD cracks the whip, private security agencies are unlikely to fall in line.

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